Danvers High junior Kelsey O’Brien sat in the driver’s seat of a red 2005 Hyundai Elantra and turned her key in the ignition just like the six others before her, but for lucky number seven, the car started up.
O’Brien was one of 50 randomly chosen finalists in The Village Automotive Groups Keys to Success program and came away last Thursday as the grand prize winner of the certified pre-owned Elantra donated to the program from .
O’Brien was picked as a finalist for her efforts assisting special needs students.
Twenty-five students each from Peabody Veterans Memorial High School and were given a chance to win the car, which was parked at the Peabody field house for the contest.
Keys to Success was created as an incentive-based program to help keep students on track and provide administrators with inventive tools to motivate students to achieve academic success.
The program offers students the opportunity to qualify for a key card, which entitles them to incentive awards from several sponsors, based on qualifications established by their high school administration. Qualifications, which may include excellence in any of the following areas: grade point average, improvement in class attendance, involvement in visual or performing arts, tutoring or volunteer work earned the students a key card.
“Many teachers tell us the program gives the students an extra boost. If they realize a student is having trouble they can offer a key card to help get them motivated; it shows them someone cares and believes in them,” said Michelle Roselli, Keys to Success Coordinator. “The simple reward helps motivate students who need a little extra push; it is a great tool.”
Teachers, administrators and counselors could nominate recipients throughout the school year. The recipient of a key card could then access a Web site and choose from a myriad of tickets or vouchers for participation in any number of events.
During the last two months of school, administrators, teachers and counselors select 10 students from the pool of key card recipients at that school. The selected students then randomly compete for a chance to win a car, valued at $4,000 to $5,000, at a Keys to Success year-end assembly with the other schools involved.
The key card winner will also have the opportunity to select a “qualifying prize” via the Village Automotive Keys to Success Web site.
This is the fourth year Village Automotive Group has done the program, which originated on a larger scale at an automotive group in Utah, Roselli said.
She said Ray Ciccolo, the company president, believes in supporting local education and wanted a way to give back to the community and help students achieve their highest potential.
“The program is really a way to pay-it-forward and have the kids succeed or reach for something they didn’t think was attainable,” Roselli added.
Typically there are about 10 schools that participate in the program — this year they had six, with about 300 Key Cards given out throughout the year per school. Traditionally, one grand prize between all the schools was offered from Honda Village in Newton, but with Hyundai Village now in the program, two cars were given away — a Honda and a Hyundai. Key Card students in the two neighboring North Shore communities just competed against each other.
Students can earn up to two Key Cards per year to obtain prizes online and qualify for the car. The chance to win a new car is only available for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Roselli said that oftentimes in high school, kids can get lost in the shuffle. This program is geared to help those struggling students and the middle-of-the-road students, [to] let them know that if they focus there could be a big reward.
“I think that it’s not so much for the prize or winning the car. What we are trying to do is help kids realize you can be successful,” Roselli said. “Not to motivate them to come to school or bring up grades for a car, but as extra encouragement to show someone cares about their success.”