GCS Graduate Wins New Car at Cool to Be Smart

Student with GCS staff at new car High Point Central High graduate Daniel Horschler unlocked the door to a brand new car on Sunday at the 10th annual Rice Toyota/Scion Cool to Be Smart. He was among more than 580 outstanding Guilford County Schools (GCS) graduates who were eligible to win a 2012 Toyota Prius C and other high-tech prizes.

Horschler and his mother attended Cool to Be Smart with the hopes that he would win an Apple iPad to take with him to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he plans to study computer science. Instead, he left the event with a new car, something he never expected.

"I thought I was going to walk away without winning anything," he said. "It's amazing. This hasn't even sunk in yet. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have won."

Now that he has a new car, with taxes, tags and fees included thanks to Rice Toyota/Scion, Horschler will need to check one more thing off his to-do list before driving off to college: get a license. He says he was planning to get one within the next few weeks. He had a car that is about 11 years old, so getting a new car was a nice surprise. The Prius C is a hybrid that boasts about 50 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency.

About 70 other graduates walked away with Apple iPod Shuffles, iPod Nanos, iPod Touches and iPads. All attendees were presented with a special diploma and a $15 iTunes gift card.

It was no easy feat for students to earn an invitation to the event. Cool to Be Smart rewards students who challenged themselves during high school by taking rigorous courses and passing nationally administered exams. To qualify, students had to earn a passing score on at least five Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams during high school. A passing score is three, four or five for AP and four through seven for IB. New this year, students could also qualify by passing at least five qualifying college courses with a B or above. Students could qualify with a combination of the three.

"We are always so proud to be able to recognize the students who have stretched themselves academically and who have achieved such amazing results," said Dibrelle Tourret, interim executive director of academically gifted. "Based on these new criteria, we are excited to also be able to include many of our students from our Early and Middle Colleges in this recognition."

This year's Cool to Be Smart attendees passed a total of 3,748 AP and IB exams during high school, topping last year's class by 541. They also passed 1,025 qualifying college courses, which include courses such as anatomy and physiology, college economics, college philosophy, college theatre and literature and writing.

While attendees were only required to pass five college courses or exams, Horschler passed seven AP exams to qualify. Forty students passed an impressive 10 or more AP exams and 52 students passed 10 or more college courses. Horschler and many of the graduates will earn class credit for their scores at the colleges and universities they attend this fall.

Thanks to the generosity of the business community, this was the second car GCS gave away this year. On June 24, Grimsley graduate Sarah Aboeid was the lucky winner of a new car at the district's inaugural Cool to Serve event, which honored students who made a commitment to service-learning.

Businesses for Excellence in Education, which made the event possible, is a frequent supporter of GCS programs, including Cool to Serve, Guilford Parent Academy and the district's annual Celebrating Excellence in Education event. The group has particularly been supportive of the district's efforts to encourage student participation in rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes.