Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Perfect attendance key to new car for two Hillsborough grads

TAMPA — Shaking with nerves, Monica Tromer slipped a key into the driver's door of a new Scion XD. She twisted it one way, then the other and felt a click.

But there was no fanfare, no loud horns, no instant celebration announcing her as the winner. Assuming the quiet meant she hadn't won, the recent Gaither High graduate walked back to her seat after only half-heartedly testing the door handle.

Tromer, 18, was one of more than 100 Hillsborough County high school graduates who participated in the Perfect Car for Perfect Attendance event Saturday at Toyota of Tampa Bay. Students qualified for a chance to win a car by not missing a day of school during the last semester.

On Saturday, names were drawn one by one to choose from the 10 keys in a bowl. But when the last key failed to open the car's door, Tromer realized something had gone wrong.

Maybe that click had meant something, she thought.

As organizers scrambled, Tromer rushed to the stage.

The keys had been returned to a pile. There was no way to know which key she had used. It only seemed fair to start again, organizers said, giving each of the 10 students another shot.

Key No. 1 did the trick.

As television cameras descended upon Davie Chen, a fellow Gaither High graduate, Tromer stepped aside.

"I felt a click, but I was so nervous," she said as her eyes welled with tears. "I thought a horn was supposed to go off."

She was told she would get a consolation prize, but it didn't make the situation any better.

"It's just so unfair," she said. "They should have let us keep our keys longer so we could have retried."

She didn't realize the event's organizers had overheard her pain.

"We're sorry we put you through all this," said Brett Morgan, operations director for the Morgan Auto Group, which owns Toyota of Tampa Bay. "We didn't set out to give two cars away today, but we feel it is the right thing to do."

With a smile on her face, the tears finally came.

She hugged her mom and she hugged Chen. They're both headed to the University of Florida this fall. She plans to major in pre-medicine while he studies molecular biology.

Still, only one of their new cars may make it to Gainesville.

"I don't have my driver's license, yet," Chen, 17, admitted. "Now I have the motivation to get one."

Tromer, who didn't have a car before, plans to get a lot of use out of hers.

"Now I get to come home from college more often to see my parents," she said.

Together the two called their principal to share the good news. They left a voice mail.

"We won a car," they said in unison.

"Gaither!" Chen added with a fist pump.

Perfect attendance key to new car for two Hillsborough grads 06/08/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 8, 2013 8:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?


    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  2. What ever happened to the Zika epidemic?


    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting Zika. Cases of the virus are down dramatically in Florida.
  3. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]