When Ryan Sweeny, 17, turned the key in the ignition and heard the 2018 Hyundai Elantra’s engine purr, he could hardly process that he had just won the new car.
Ten minutes later, Principal Michael Short had to remind him to turn his car off before walking off the stage.
“My mom’s going to go crazy,” Ryan said.
He is the ninth Perrysburg senior to win a free car, courtesy of Steve Taylor of local dealership Taylor Hyundai.
For the past eight years, Mr. Taylor has gifted a brand-new car to the senior whose name is drawn in a classwide lottery. Ten names were drawn — from 2,000 entries this year — and the students called lined up on the stage to receive envelopes, three of which contained keys to the cars parked behind them. The students with keys tried starting the cars, and the one whose car started was the winner.
“I love seeing the look on the kids’ faces,” Mr. Taylor said.
All seniors are eligible for the lottery, and students earn additional entries for every “A” on their report cards, for every extracurricular activity or sport they participated in, and for every teacher recommendation they receive. The system is designed to reward students with excellent academic, extracurricular, and attendance records.
Mr. Short said the tradition has the added benefit of strengthening the school’s connection with local business.
“We think [Mr. Taylor] gets a bigger kick out of it than the kids who win the car,” Mr. Short said.
Ryan, who will attend the University of Cincinnati next year, plans to use his car to drive to and from college, which is three hours away. With all expenses paid on the new car, except for insurance, Ryan is glad to be free of the monthly payments he was shouldering for his old car, which he will either give to his sister or sell.
“I’ll be able to save a lot more for college,” Ryan said with a smile.
Contact Lily Moore-Eissenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6368, or on Twitter @LilyM_E.
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