Vanessa Battista wins car through Keys to Success

by Samantha Libraty

Today, junior Vanessa Battista won a used car through Honda Village Automotive Group’s Keys to Success program at this school.

Fifty students, who were nominated for Keys to Success throughout the year, were randomly chosen as finalists.

The finalists were seniors Alison Berkowitz, Kristine Cheung, Caroline Ellison, Juliana Farina, Samuel Green, Paige Grody, Abigail Hewett, Abigail Holtzman, Rebecca Jereza, Claudel Laurent, Melissa Levy, Swardiq Mayanja, Alyssa Nugent, Emily Paley, Natalie Polonsky, Marlon Rainville, Karina Reyes, Miguel Rivera, Barry Santana, Ivan Wolyniec, Clarence Wong and Calvin Zhao; juniors Vanessa Battista, Carissa Cedrone, Christopher D’Agostino, Malini Gandhi, Inijah Germain, Amelia Goldstein, Devon Lamm, Amelia Lomer, Nicole McMillen, Eden Medin, Michael Safran, Kristian Sumner and Amalia Sweet; and sophomores Anthony Alecseenko, Samuel Atkins, Madeline Bledsoe, Avery Cain, Christian Fanning, Riley Heiman, Sheela Jacobson, Christopher Lewis, Kristen McMillen, Brianna Richardson, Alexander Shames, Abigail Thomas, Danielle Tibetts and Liana Visco.

Each finalist was given a key and tried to use his or her key to start the car. If the key fit and the car started, he or she won.

The winner could also choose a $5,000 scholarship instead of the used car.

Battista said, “As each person tried their key, I stood in line and waited, while a knot started to form in my stomach. I sat in the car, and the first time I turned the key, the car didn’t start. But, I tried again, and it started.

“I was shaking, and I started to cry. My mind was racing with so many emotions.”

Battista only recently got her driver’s license. “I wasn’t looking for a car, but I do need a car to go to work,” she said. “A huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, because now I don’t have to go look for one.”

Principal Jennifer Price said, “I think it is great that Vanessa won. She is an excellent representation of what this school is all about and very deserving of the car.”

She said, “I am so happy that so many students were nominated and were able to be recognized for the great things they do. They all make this school a better place,” she added.

The Keys to Success program will continue next year, Price said.

Keys to Success is an ongoing incentive program created by Honda Village Automotive Group. Teachers nominate students for an unexpected good deed or an academic achievement. Nominated students choose prizes, including gift certificates and restaurant certificates.

Vice principal Deborah Holman said, “Keys to Success is a fun way to connect the business community with students at this school. It is a great way to acknowledge cool things that students do.”

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