She’s 16 years old, in the 10th grade, has no driver’s license and had just won a car. Amanda Mathew, a student of Lucerne Valley High School, was eligible to win a car because she had perfect attendance for the entire school year.
Mathew’s turn came to try out her personal key in the Dodge Dart donated by Victorville Motors. Two others had failed. If her key started the car, it would be hers. She sat down, inserted the key and turned it. The crowd of ten photographers and Victorville Motors representatives all asked the same question Mathew was asking–”Did the car start?” No one could hear over the noise of the large crowd and the strong desert wind. Mathew turned the key again. The quiet purr of a new Dart was evident.
An announcer barked, the crowd roared and Amanda’s face went through a series of expressions as cameras madly clicked. The car was hers!
“I felt (the car) before I heard it,” said the 10th grader who said she had a feeling she was going to win this day.
Her principal, Patricia Courtney, noted that Amanda had “really turned it around this year.” Turning it around meant, in part, being in school everyday. Courtney had the definite impression that many of her students were trying to have perfect attendance in order to have a chance to win a car in Victorville Motors’ third “It’s a Gas to Go to Class” contest.
The fact is that students in 13 High Desert schools were striving for perfect attendance in droves. The first year’s contest saw 963 eligible, the second 1425, and this year saw 1531 eligible. The year before the contest started saw only 200 with perfect attendance.
Two more Dodge Darts were given out later on the day of May 17. Sabrina Tuell, a student at Granite Hills High School and Ailene Weaver, a 2nd grade teacher with perfect attendance at Lewis Elementary School at Fort Irwin, also picked keys that started a Dodge Dart.
Victorville Motors, with 124 employees and 44 years in the High Desert, took care of all the costs the contestants assume by winning the car.
Asked if she texted her friends when she won the car, Mathew said, “I don’t have a phone. I don’t need a phone. I have a car.”