Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Education

Plant City student with perfect attendance wins car

TAMPA — These high school students are the high achievers who rarely, if ever, miss school. They are the problem solvers, the future engineers or doctors with the smarts to do anything.

But do they know how to open a car door?

Toyota of Tampa Bay wasn't planning on giving away two cars again this year.

More than 350 Hillsborough graduates participated in the fourth annual "Perfect Car for Perfect Attendance" giveaway at the Fletcher Avenue dealership. All qualified to win a 2014 Scion XB worth nearly $19,000 by having had perfect attendance in the first or second semester of the last school year.

Hillsborough school officials say the contest promotes better attendance among seniors, who are prone to miss classes as their high school careers close.

"You know that disease that hits everyone once in a while called senioritis," schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia told students.

The rules are simple enough.

Twelve car keys are put in a bowl. Only one will unlock and open the Scion's door. Up to 12 students selected randomly are called up one at a time to pick a key and try to open the door.

Open the door, win a car. Easy as pie, right?

But last year, a nervous senior put the key in the door and heard a click after she turned it. But she only halfheartedly pulled on the door, and it did not open.

Confused, she sat down thinking she had lost. But after all the keys had been tried without a winner, she realized she might have won after all.

The dealership immediately redid the contest. Another student won. Tears welled in the eyes of the girl who should have won the first time.

So Toyota of Tampa Bay decided to give her a car, too.

This year, general sales manager Farouk Hosein gave seniors what may have been their first lesson in the mechanics of opening a car door.

"Put the key in," Hosein said. "Turn the key, hold the handle. The door will open, okay?"

A person dubbed the "door monitor" would watch each attempted key turn closely.

The contest opened. The first nine students called picked their keys but did not budge the door.

Then Jose Sanchez-Flores, 19, a Plant City student from Strawberry Crest High School, took a key and inserted it into the Scion's lock.

He turned it. Click. The door opened. The car was his.

Sanchez-Flores, who moved to the United States from El Salvador in 2009, will attend Hillsborough Community College to become a nutritionist.

It's been two years since he last missed a day of school.

"I didn't have a car, and now I do," Sanchez-Flores said. "Everything is going to be perfect now."

William R. Levesque can be reached at (813) 226-3432.

Comments

Five Hernando County educators nominated for LifeChanger of the Year Awards

Hernando County Public Schools has five educators in the running for prizes ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 in the 2017-2018 national LifeChanger of the Year awards. The program will give out 17 awards.Travis Bruns and Doug Poteet of Pine Grove Elemen...
Updated: 1 hour ago
More teacher protests and another charter school approval expected at the Hillsborough County School Board meeting

More teacher protests and another charter school approval expected at the Hillsborough County School Board meeting

TAMPA — This will seem familiar: Teachers are mobilizing to protest outside Tuesday’s Hillsborough County School Board meeting about their frozen pay rates.And this too: A vote is expected on a new charter school.Florida Connections Academy is a virt...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Romano: Once again, state education leaders fail this simple test

Romano: Once again, state education leaders fail this simple test

Want to annoy an education leader in Florida?Tell them they’ve turned your child’s school into an assembly line of tiny test takers. Tell them innovation and imagination and excitement are rapidly disappearing in favor of teaching to the test.And whe...
Published: 01/23/18
Pinellas to look at high school start times today

Pinellas to look at high school start times today

Pinellas County school district officials have spent weeks analyzing bus routes and brainstorming ideas to see if later high school start times could be a reality this August.Today will tell how far they have come.Clint Herbic, associate superintende...
Published: 01/23/18

Class Notes for Jan. 26

Theatre/Art/MusicCenter for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (727) 774-7382.• The center’s Learn it Live! series presents The Three Little Pigs, at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 24- 25. Pre-K – grade 4. Public show at 11 a.m. Jan. ...
Published: 01/23/18
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Published: 01/19/18

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Published: 01/19/18
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

Tampa Bay schools warn parents about flu activity, dangers

The Florida Department of Health has reported a sharp increase in flu activity in the last several weeks, prompting area schools to send out letters warning parents about the virus. At least two districts, however, say that flu activity in their scho...
Published: 01/19/18

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Published: 01/18/18