Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Student Displays Drive Orange Park High Senior Wins a Cavalier

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Student Displays Drive Orange Park High Senior Wins a Cavalier

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

At 10:45 a.m. Monday, Melanie Jones was sitting in the Orange Park High School stadium, surrounded by the rest of the student body, mentally preparing for her upcoming graduation and for going off to college in the fall.

She was certainly not mentally preparing to win a car.

But she did.

Melanie, an 18-year-old senior, became the owner of a 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier when Clay County School Superintendent David Owens read her name as the first winner of Orange Park High's "Got the Drive?" student achievement campaign, sponsored by Garber Automall in Green Cove Springs.

"I am just really, really surprised," said a clearly stunned Melanie. "It's great . . . It's just amazing."

It also had a manual transmission, which Melanie cannot drive. So her father, Larry Jones, drove her around the stadium's track in a victory lap after her name was announced. Garber officials said they can trade the car for one with an automatic transmission. Garber said the car cost $13,965.

The contest got under way in September as a new kind of incentive for students to show up for class every day and excel academically. Students who had perfect attendance and made A's and B's on their report cards every nine weeks got to register for the drawing -- the better the grades and attendance, the more times they got to register.

Garber donated the car as part of its ongoing community involvement, a way to play a part in helping students achieve excellence and be prepared for college or the work force, company officials said. The campaign will be continued for the next school year.

The prospect of winning a new car helped motivate students, school officials said.

The barrels into which they dropped their registrations for the drawing were constantly full. And one indicator that students are focusing more on their studies -- the school's assessment test scores -- are up this year, said Principal Sam Ward.

The campaign will likely draw more participation next year, now that students have seen one of their own actually win a car, a new one at that, free and clear, he said. …

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