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Academics, luck put student in the driver's seat

June 07, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Ryan Deneen expected to hone his trade skills and earn a diploma at the Washington County Career Studies Center in Hagerstown.

But the senior Electrical Construction program student said he never expected to graduate with a four-wheeled bonus.

Deneen on June 2 won a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme through an incentive program designed to increase attendance and academic performance. The car is worth about $3,000, according to the Kelley Blue Book.

"I never thought I'd be that lucky," said Deneen, 17, of Clear Spring. "I just wanted to learn the trade."

It takes more than luck to win the car, said cosmetology teacher Marie Bikle, who spearheaded the four-year-old program.

"It's not a chance. It's an opportunity," Bikle said. "You have to earn the right to have your name in there."

During their junior and senior years, students can earn one chance per semester if they achieve honor roll status or two chances if they make distinguished honor roll. They can earn either one chance if they're absent two days or less or two chances if they have perfect attendance, Bikle said.

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Deneen, who is the son of Doug and Krista Deneen, said he had about six of the 378 chances in the pot.

The vehicle incentive program and other variables have positively affected attendance rates, which have jumped from about 90 percent to 94 percent, and honor roll rates, which have also increased, said Principal Arnold Hammann.

Bikle credited Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades with making the program happen.

Mades each year provides a vehicle to be given to a Career Studies Center student at the end of the school year. The vehicle is one that his department or the Narcotics Task Force has seized in a drug arrest

"I think it's a good public relations tool and it sends a good message," Mades said. "It seems to be a win-win situation."

The car that Deneen won was seized locally and used by the members of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force as a "jump car" to apprehend drug dealers, he said.

The seized cars are often painted and repaired by students in the Automotive Technology and Collision Repair programs at the Career Studies Center, then legally processed through the school's licensed Mini Dealership, Bikle said.

Deneen said he will use the Oldsmobile to travel to and from his job at Clear Spring Elementary School, where he is installing wiring for Crum Electric Co. Inc. of Frederick, Md.

Crum Electric Project Manager Estimator Kent Reid said Deneen is a "wonderful employee" who didn't want to miss work to attend the drawing.

"It was a mystery to him, winning that car," Reid said.

Deneen said the surprise was well worth the trip. The Oldsmobile will cut down on wear and tear on the 2001 Jeep Silverado he plans to purchase when he turns 18 in December, he said.

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