There was plenty of excitement at the Fontana A.B. Miller High School Stadium on April 27, and no student was more excited than Julio Cortez-Barajas.
The Fontana Unified School District conducted its seventh annual Perfect Attendance Spells Success (P.A.S.S.) program, rewarding numerous students from all five of the city's high schools for their academic excellence, and Cortez-Barajas received the biggest prize of all -- a new car.
When his name was chosen in a random drawing, Cortez-Barajas, a junior at Miller, was happily mobbed by his friends and rushed out of the bleachers to accept the keys to a 2017 Chevrolet Sonic which had been donated by Rotolo Chevrolet, including tax and license.
"I was joking with my friends about winning, but I didn't think I was going to get it," Cortez-Barajas said. "I can't put the feeling into words. It's such a blessing."
The program, coordinated by Inland Valley Educators Insurance, seeks to motivate and inspire FUSD students to pursue scholastic success. All 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students with at least a 98 percent perfect attendance, no out-of-school suspensions, and a minimum 2.7 GPA during the 2016-17 school year were eligible to participate, and hundreds of them showed up hoping to be a winner.
Cortez-Barajas has not missed any days of school this year and has achieved a 3.7 grade point average.
"I'm really happy to be part of Rebel Nation," he said. "This really isn't my car -- it's the whole school's car. I want to thank everyone who was involved in this program."
With political leaders and FUSD officials cheering them on, more than two dozen students received prizes, such as $250 scholarships.
"Just as most adults need to show up at work to earn their pay, the P.A.S.S. program teaches students that their participation makes a difference. By being in the classroom and listening to the teacher’s instruction, students will better grasp concepts, which will make it easier when it is time to study for tests and quizzes," said Rosa Dominguez of Inland Valley Educators Insurance. "We want to formally recognize those students who strive to be in the classroom every day of the school year."
Daniel Robles and Danielle York of Rotolo Chevrolet were on hand to make the presentation of the car.