Davis High School graduate Marisol Lara, who came by bus with her family amid the stormy weather, left the Second Annual Cool to Be Smart celebration on Sunday with a brand new Dodge Caliber donated by Helfman River Oaks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.
“I can’t believe I won this car! This is a dream come true for me and my entire family,” said Lara whose family does not own a car and uses public transportation on a daily basis. “This car will help me get to school every day, and it will inspire my younger siblings to work hard to pursue their dreams too.”
Lara was still in shock as she walked up the stage to greet Helfman River Oaks Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram President Alan Helfman who handed the keys to her brand new car.
“This is a poignant example of how being benevolent is worthwhile. This graduate just won a brand new car by studying and working hard,” said Helfman. “I’m thrilled to be part of such an amazing celebration that recognizes their accomplishments.”
Lara will be attending the University of Houston main campus to double major in accounting and education. She was counting on public transportation to get to college every day. Now she’s thrilled to be able to take her own car to college and help her family too.
“Thank you to HISD for this amazing opportunity! I’m ready for college, and it’s thanks to all the AP classes I took,” said Lara who took five AP courses during her senior year alone. “Yes, the classes are very hard but they are worth it. I hope other students will be motivated to do the same.”
Along with Lara, hundreds of recent HISD graduates and their parents attended Sunday’s event. Many scholars left the Bayou City Event Center with scholarships, laptops, an iPad, autographed sports memorabilia and many other great prizes thanks to the event’s generous sponsors, including the HISD Foundation.
“This is a fantastic event! I was honored to be here to share the excitement with all the scholars today,” said HISD Board of Education President Michael Lunceford. “As freshmen students see how these scholars are rewarded, I’m confident they will be highly motivated to challenge themselves as well.”
The purpose of this annual event is to encourage and recognize recent graduates who enrolled in five or more Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses or a combination of both and took the corresponding exams. Students who score high enough on these exams are eligible to earn college credits. More than HISD 1,100 students who graduated in 2012 qualified for this drawing.
“This was an incredible event! I am amazed to see hundreds of students who will now go off to college highly prepared for success thanks to all the effort they put into their advanced courses in high school,” said HISD Chief of High School Orlando Riddick. “The Cool to Be Smart celebration shows how hard work does pay off and in this case, it paid off with amazing prizes, including a brand new car.”
This year HISD students took 23,227 AP exams, double the number of AP exams taken in 2009. In addition, this year HISD students scored a 3 or higher on 7,106 AP exams, which is a 45 percent increase from 2009. A score of 3 or higher is required for college credit at most universities.
“HISD is really motivating their students to take more AP courses and in turn, they will be better prepared for college,” said Westside High School graduate Angelo Consuelo who won one of the $1,000 scholarships provided by the HISD Foundation. “I’m very excited to get to use my scholarship to pay for my books.”
Aside from the grand prize, the graduates also won eight scholarships provided by the HISD Foundation along with five laptops provided by the Microsoft Store at the Galleria and an iPad 3 provided by Cell Phone Repair.