Perfect attendance helps high school senior unlock the doors to a free car

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For a group of recent Hillsborough County high school graduates, the secret to unlocking success begins by being present -- every day. 

Twenty-one graduating seniors woke up Tuesday with an opportunity to take a brand new car, for free. Ten of them did not miss a single day of school, from kindergarten through their senior year of high school. The others had at least a year of perfect attendance while in high school. 

One of them would be lucky enough to drive away in a brand new 2019 Toyota Yaris from Toyota of Tampa Bay. 

One by one, they picked a key at random, hoping to pick the key that would unlock the car's door. It only took five students before that key was selected and Bloomingdale High School senior Megan Graves opened up the door to her new ride. 

“I said ‘No,’ I didn’t know I did it,” she recalled “Until he said there was a winner, I was like, 'nuh-uh.' I didn’t believe it at first!”

Her mother, Tammy Fallin was right there, beaming with pride. Her daughter went to school 2,340 days without missing a single one.

“This is a reward for her doing what she’s done in school,” Fallin said. “That’s the main reason I wanted her to win.” 

“We remind students, we're in the business of preparing you for life,” he said. “Sometimes that’s not always about the A, B and Cs. Sometimes it’s about work ethic, character, and other things. Today was just another example of how some of those other things that prepare you to be successful in life, paid off for Megan.”

Megan’s perseverance started when she got sick during pre-kindergarten. 

“I got taken to the nurse, and I cried at the fact that they called my mom to pick me up,” Megan recalled. “I’ve just always had the dedication to show up to school and stuff.” 

Her perfect attendance has taken her places: In grade 3, Megan won a bicycle for not missing a day of school, and today, she’s driving home a new car.