Driven to Stay in School

Tyler students say instead of being driven to succeed, they are succeeding so they can drive. With just over a month left in the school year, thoughts for seniors are turning to a shinny new SUV.

In Kelvin Branch's class Tuesday morning, the subject was value. What's the value of owning a car. What if it were a free car? For one student, maybe one of the students in Branch's class, the dream of a free car may become reality. It's part of the Driven to Excellence program. Students who keep their grades up and come to school regularly will be entered into a drawing for a new Isuzu Rodeo SUV.

"Basically, you just do what you're supposed to every day and your name gets put in the drawing and out pops a brand new car!" said Senior, Miki Brady.  She, like many other John Tyler students says the deal sounds almost too good to be true "We've already learned in economics that nothing's free. I figured that there had to be a catch somewhere. But, I was interested."

Deeann Roberson agrees with Brady. "A lot of people think that there's probably some kind of catch to it. In the back of my mind, I kind of think that there is too. It's kind of hard to believe that just for coming to school they're going to give you a new car."

TISD hopes the lure of luxury on the highway keeps these students on the right path.  Senior Ashley Wabbington says she believes the idea is working.  "It has kids motivated to come to school and a reason to come, not just to come and be coming every day. I think it's a good program."

While a free car is valuable, the education they're getting while trying to win the Rodeo is worth a whole lot more. So far, 15 hundred students at John Tyler, Robert E. Lee and Pace Alternative high schools have qualified for the drawing. 12 finalists will be announced May 22.

Stephen Parr, reporting.