To even qualify for the event, Blakley said he had to work hard to keep his grades up - one of the prerequisites for getting a ticket into the drawing for a new Honda HR-V, donated by the dealership. So when he heard his name called, he almost didn't believe it. "My heart was just pounding," said the Carl Wunsche Sr. High School senior. "This completely surprised me."
Created in 2016 in conjunction with Honda of Spring, the Smart Kid Cool Car program is a way to recognize Spring ISD students who are motivated academically and also dedicated to community service. Only students who maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA; pass all required End of Course exams; keep a 95 percent attendance rate; complete at least 25 hours of community service; have no out-of-school discipline infractions; and do required college planning, are eligible to take part.
This year, more than 160 students got invited to the event, and nearly as many showed up on Sunday for a drawing where they had to be present to win. Besides the grand car giveaway, students had the opportunity to win donated gift cards and a back-to-school supply bin, as well as play games and snack on treats.
"This afternoon is just as exciting for our team as it is for the seniors present today," said Jason Jackson, the general manager of Honda of Spring. "We are glad to continue this program with Spring ISD in showing commitment to supporting students."
The new HR-V was like a beacon of light for Miriam Pereira of Spring Early College Academy. She said the thought of getting her name into the drawing and possibly even winning the vehicle, served as motivation over the past year. Pereira plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin, where she'll study biology in hopes of going to medical school and becoming a pediatrician.
"It's pretty generous," she said of the donated car, "and something to look forward to."
During remarks before the announcement, Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson said that in years past winners have talked about the importance of their new car as they and their families embark on their college journeys. "This vehicle will make a big difference in the life of one of our students, and we're grateful for the generosity of Honda of Spring for donating such a beautiful car," he said.
Blakley's mother said the new HR-V will make a huge impact on the lives of their family, especially since they were already debating the logistics of who would get the only vehicle available for college - Walker who is going to Prairie View A & M or his twin brother Riley who is going to the University of Houston.
"I'm very excited," said April Lozano, who admittedly cheered the loudest in audience when she heard her son's name called. "It takes a big relief off some financial things."
Wunsche Principal Andria Schur said it was fitting that a Wunsche senior won the Smart Kid Cool Car giveaway considering 2019 is the first year the school has its own graduating class.
"I couldn't be more proud," Schur said. "There's no one more deserving."