By CARL E. FEATHER - firstname.lastname@example.org
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Sarah McKinney felt lucky when she arrived at Lakeside High School Friday morning.
“I just had a feeling when I got to school,” said the senior. “Before my name was called, I told my friend that ‘I think it’s going to be me.’”
McKinney, who also told her friend that she’d never won anything in her life, was right on the money Friday. Her ticket was one of the 10 pulled that made her a finalist in the Lakeside High School Drive for Success contest. Each finalist had to select an envelope containing a car key. One of the 10 keys was a perfect fit for the silver 2006 Chevy Cobalt that had been parked at the school since September, when the contest was rolled out.
Each one of the first eight contestants to try a key got only as far as the “ding, ding, ding” of the seat-belt warning. But McKinney’s key made the engine start and purr.
McKinney smiled at her good fortune, but the win presents a dilemma. She already has a 2006 Honda Civic, and no one in her immediate family needs a car. McKinney said she’s unsure what she’ll do with the prize, which was donated to by Steven and Jennifer Bartone of Skufca’s on State, Ashtabula. The car came from his rental car business.
“Mr. (Don) Rapose and (Andrew) Kiphart approached me,” Steven Bartone said. “I thought it was a great idea for the students... This was a chance to help somebody else.”
Rapose said Lakeside’s staff had talked about this kind of incentive program every year, but never took the next step to find a business willing to donate a car. With Bartone on board, they enlisted the help of the teaching staff to develop the criteria.
Students earned entry tickets in the drawing by getting good grades (an “A” was worth three tickets), showing up for school on time and staying out of trouble. Participation in parent-teacher conferences also earned tickets.
McKinney said she probably earned 120 tickets during the school year. Rapose estimated that there were 75,000 tickets in the drawing.
“They were excited about it all year long,” Rapose said. “A lot of them would pass me in the hall and say ‘I’m going to win the car this year.’”
The entire student body, including students who participate in the post-secondary and vocational school programs, participated. A game-show atmosphere was created in the stadium Friday morning to generate enthusiasm and suspense as Rapose served as master of ceremonies.
Rapose said that Busy Beaver Building Center provided the nonfunctioning keys and other materials for the presentation. Brent Bunnell of Ashtabula Insurance Center provided the consolation prizes.
“How can you have 10 kids and only one winner?” Bunnell said, explaining his reason for coming up with consolation prizes. A year of free insurance would have seemed like the logical donation, Bunnell said that offer would be illegal in Ohio, so he went with gift cards.
“We have to support our local schools and we have to keep our community going,” Bunnell said.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” Jennifer Bartone said. “There’s no better way to show our support for students than to give them an incentive.”
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