On a clear Saturday morning, Harlingen High School student Mario De Leon celebrated a year of perfect attendance by putting the keys to his brand new 2014 Chevy Sonic from Gillman Chevrolet of Harlingen in the ignition and smiling from ear-to-ear.
The Chevy Sonic was presented to De Leon after he was randomly selected to receive the grand prize in the Drive for the Perfect Attendance Awards program, which was sponsored by the Gillman Auto Group of the Rio Grande Valley. With almost 200 students from 11th and 12th grade qualifying for the final awards ceremony on May 17, perfect attendance paid off for De Leon as he considered the prize to the cherry on top for his senior year, he said.
“I was amazed,” said De Leon. “I’ve never won something so big in my life, and as soon as I heard my name, I ran up the stairs in disbelief. This is an amazing end to my senior year. It’s given me the opportunity to be able to get to and from my college classes next year.”
To qualify, students had to maintain perfect attendance throughout the school year. For De Leon, it was not easy feat but he wanted to thank his parents and the dealership for getting him to the state to receive the coveted prize.
“I want to thank my parents for waking me up at 6:30 a.m. every morning,” said De Leon. “They kept pushing me to go to school each day. I also want to thank Gillman for providing me the opportunity to receive this award and sponsoring this program that gives us recognition for going to school everyday.”
Other prize winners included Harlingen High School South students Jahdiel Navarro and Israel Guerrero who received a 13 inch MacBook Pro and an iPad Mini, respectively. HHS student Cassie Gracia was also selected to receive a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Keeping all students in mind as well, 50 American Express gift cards were raffled off throughout the event.
“Perfect attendance paid off in a big way,” said Navarro. “I was able to win a $50 gift card and not only that but a MacBook Pro too! I would like to thank my parents for always reinforcing the importance of staying in school. I also want to thank Gillman for giving me the opportunity to win these awards.
The Drive for the Perfect Attendance Awards Program was created as a partnership between Gillman Chevrolet and the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District to reward students for their daily attendance and improve academic performance. The program included over $100,000 in prizes for students at all grade levels for reaching attendance goals throughout the year,
“Our partnership with Gillman Chevrolet is another example of Heroes for Harlingen [an initiative designed to create connections between the business community and school district],” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “They are exactly that, they are heroes to our kids in our public school system. Today we celebrate their work, along with the work of our students that received perfect attendance this year. We thank them for their commitment to attending school and their understanding of the importance of staying dedicated to their education.”
“This community is our home,” said Scott Dupons, Vice President and Managing Partner of Gillman Autogroup of the RGV. “We are investing in the future success of these young men and women. They’re going to be productive citizens. They’re going to be here long after I’m gone, and it’s a big part of our future to make sure that our community has those values.”
Helping students succeed through attendance was a focus throughout the year. In addition to the prizes from Gillman, HCISD raffled 72 iPad minis at all high schools and middle schools after each academic quarter for students who had perfect attendance in the quarter, allowing students who miss for illness during one quarter to be eligible for a reward in a subsequent quarter.