For seven years, Dieffenbach GM Superstore has handed over the keys to a brand new car to a deserving student at Richmond Senior High School near the end of the school year.
On Thursday, 1,340 students had the opportunity to get their names in the drawing for a vehicle, along with four other prizes.
“To have the chance to win, students must meet three criteria,” said Principal Cory Satterfield. “They must have an average of 85 or higher, they must have no more than one absence per six weeks and they must have no Saturday detentions, time-outs or out-of-school suspensions.”
The names were written on pink slips and piled into an enormous spinning bucket, like lottery tickets.
Drums rolled with each turn of the bucket, and silence weighed heavy in the gymnasium before each name was called. Then, cheers and roars erupted as students and faculty looked for winners to make their way forward.
Give-aways started with two $100 checks, from RSHS. Next, a $100 check from “Rockin’ for a Reason” was awarded.
Winners of the checks were: Shana Chavis, a senior; Ashten Locklear, a sophomore; and Lacy Steele, a junior.
Next, a drawing was held for an HTC Desire touch-screen smart phone, which included $100 carrier switch credit and a free activation from Alltel Wireless. Carlos Toomer, a senior, won the phone.
Tension increased as the drawing for the car grew closer. When the winner’s name was pulled, her records were first verified to ensure that a student meeting all the necessary criteria was getting the car.
With that out of the way, Satterfield dropped a couple of clues.
“She got a 95 in chemistry,” he announced, and people began looking around.
“She’s a junior,” he continued, and all the seniors groaned.
“The winner of the new, 2012 Chevy Sonic is Claire Crump,” Satterfield boomed.
The room exploded into cheers, as Crump made her way down row after row of bleachers.
Wide-eyed and stunned, she finally managed to stammer, “I didn’t expect to win this. I never win stuff.”
Seemingly in a daze, she followed Jeff Dieffenbach, Principal Satterfield and WPDE News Channel 15 out to see her new car.
Too nervous to be taped for television, Crump shied away into the back of the growing crowd — anxious to call her parents, Judson and Kim Crump, of Rockingham.
“I won a car,” she said softly into the phone. “No, really I won a car — at school.”
This was her lucky day, because her parents had been considering buying her a car soon.
“I don’t have a car yet,” she said. “I don’t drive to school, and when I do drive I take my mom’s car.”
She had the choice of choosing between a silver car and an orange one, both had identical features. She chose the silver.
The Chevy Sonic is valued at $16,095.
“I give away a new vehicle every year to a deserving student as an incentive — to try and keep them interested in school,” said Dieffenbach owner, Jeff Dieffenbach. “You need an education these days, and it’s important to try and motivate students any way possible.”
“This is one of very few high schools in the country that does this,” said Satterfield, who thanked Dieffenbach for his continued support of the students.
“Everybody who qualified for the drawing is a winner,” said Dieffenbach.
“This is the seventh year in a row that a great kid has won, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Satterfield.
“I’ve taught Claire for two years, and she is well deserving of this car,” said teacher Meredith McInnis. “She is here every day, she makes great grades and she works at night and on the weekends. She’s a really good girl.”
After meeting her parents at the Dieffenbach dealership located at 1209 East Broad Avenue in Rockingham, to fill out paperwork, Crump drove off the lot in her shiny new car.
She hopes her parents will let her drive it to the beach.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.