Megan Graves stands with her mother, Tammi Fallin, in front of her brand-new 2019 Toyota Yaris at the Hillsborough County School Headquarters.

By Nur Suleiman

Every year Toyota of Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County Public schools partner up to hold the Perfect Car for Perfect Attendance event. To be eligible, students have to be a graduating senior with perfect attendance from Kindergarten through 12th grade or be randomly selected as one of eleven seniors who had perfect attendance for at least one academic school year.

The students selected one out of 21 keys and then had the chance to try the key to open the driver’s side door of the car.

This year, Bloomingdale High School graduate Megan Graves choose the correct key and was rewarded with a 2019 Toyota Yaris. Graves was the fifth participant to try the key out of the 16 who attended. Graves has not missed a single school day for 13 years, which adds up to 2,340 days with no absences.

When asked what her secret was, Graves said, “I don’t think there was a secret for having perfect attendance. I was just dedicated, and I always wanted to go to school.”

Graves’ mother, Tammy Fallin, said, “There was never a choice not to go to school. We always knew that. It’s just who Megan is.”

Perfect attendance was not always easy for Graves after moving to Ruskin and having to travel almost an hour to school each way, she still never missed a day.

Graves could hardly believe it when her key turned the door lock. “I had butterflies in my stomach when I walked over to the car. However when I was choosing the keys, I picked up this one and I was going to put it back. But then I had a feeling that it was the one and it was.”

Hillsborough County Schools and Toyota of Tampa Bay have been holding this event for nine years. The competition was started as a way for Toyota of Tampa Bay to give back to the community.

General Manager of Toyota of Tampa Bay Mark Schols said, “It is really amazing that over the years of watching this, it is almost like the person that is supposed to win the car, wins it.”

Graves plans to use her car to take her into her next phase in life which is college at Hillsborough Community College. She wants to be either a neonatal nurse or a wildlife veterinarian.

For more information on the Perfect Attendance Program, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.