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New program aims to ‘drive’ students toward success

Antioch car dealership to award new car to 1 lucky student in District 117

Antioch Community High School

LAKE VILLA – One lucky senior in District 117 will be driving away from high school with a new car, courtesy of a new program created in cooperation with an area auto dealer.

The Drive for Education program was something that Mark Scarpelli, owner of Raymond Chevrolet Kia in Antioch, had been thinking about for some time.

Scarpelli, who is a second-generation owner of the dealership that has been in Antioch for 65 years, himself is a graduate of Antioch High School.

He already donates to Antioch Community High School and Lakes Community High School through the Big Play program, which awards $25 for each home run, touchdown and 3-pointer made by the school’s athletes. The money goes to the athletic departments at the schools, but it creates a lot of excitement among students.

“They’ve made Raymond pay over the years,” Scarpelli said with a chuckle, adding that he has contributed $250,000 over the 25 years the program has been in place.

The new program, in which one student from the district will receive a new car with a cash value up to $25,000, aims to do the same for the rest of the student body.

To be eligible, students must meet criteria that has been set up by the district, District 117 Superintendent Jeff Feucht said.

The criteria go beyond grade-point average, allowing more students to be eligible. Feucht said it was based on the district’s cum laude program.

“It opens the door to any student working hard,” Feucht said.

The requirements are that a student earn 26 academic credits; show exemplary character by not being suspended at any point; serve the community through 40 hours of volunteer service; achieve three capstone credits over four years; and participate in four extracurricular activities.

In this inaugural year, 110 students are eligible to win the car, 55 students from each high school. Students had to opt in to the program, as they will be responsible for all taxes and license plate fees for the new vehicle, Feucht said.

The winner will be chosen via a drawing at 10 a.m. May 17 at the dealership.

Since both schools will be having their graduation walk-throughs at that time, the drawing will be live-streamed to each school as well as online for anyone who wants to see it. This year, there are 261 graduating seniors at Antioch High and 298 at Lakes, Feucht said.

“We’re super grateful to Raymond Kia,” Feucht said about the program, which he said has been building excitement among students since it was announced.

“It’s been great for the principals,” Feucht said in explaining how the school leaders have been able to use the program as an incentive for the students. “There’s a lot of excitement in the schools.”

Scarpelli related a story of one mother who recently stopped by the dealership to look at the vehicles.

“‘I’m here to pick out the car my son is going to win,’” Scarpelli said he was told.

Scarpelli hopes to be able to continue this program for many years to come.

“We’re thrilled to be involved,” he said.

To watch the livestream at 10 a.m. May 17, visit youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=XW6zLuObqbQ

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.