Peabody student wins ‘Keys to Success’ car; Buick’s 110th birthday

Peabody High School senior Joseph Borgatti is a young man who’s very good with numbers. After all, he’s a member of his school’s prize-winning math team and an outstanding student.

But it was his lucky number that helped him win a used car this month in the school’s Keys to Success program.

Borgatti was one of 300 Peabody High students who received “key cards”this year—gift cards redeemable for food, merchandise, and services at several dozen local businesses.

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From that 300, the school selected 50 finalists to advance to the“Key Off”and receive an actual car key— one of which would start the reconditioned 2000 Honda Civic donated to the program by Village Hyundai of Danvers.

As the students lined up to receive their keys, Borgatti asked for No. 7.

There wasn’t any formula involved. “Just thought it might be a lucky number,” he said.

It was.

Village Hyundai GM Les Hefler made it a point to select a good used car well ahead of time.

“We went through it completely,” he said. “It’s even got a new set of tires. It should be a good, economical car for its new owner.”

Hefler also made sure to pick a vehicle with a common key. Last year, the company donated a used Volvo. However, it required a special (read expensive) ignition key and theVillage Auto folks resorted to using a lock box instead of having ignition keys.

When Borgatti’s key started the Civic, confetti rained over the car, the Peabody High band played, and students cheered from the filled field house stands.

Borgatti emerged from his new car with a stunned look.“I didn’t really expect to win,” he’d say later. “He’s a great kid,” says Peabody High principal Ed Sapienza.“He’s very smart but very quiet.”

“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid,” was the reaction of the crowd of students who made a point of congratulating him.

Now he’s got a ride when he heads to Merrimack College next year.

The number seven was on display elsewhere at the school that day. A banner was raised in the main entryway celebrating the school’s recognition by the Washington Post as being in the top seven percent of the nation’s high schools—an award the school also won in 2011.

Sapienza calls the Keys to Success program a contributing factor to the school’s success and credits teacher Rosemary Slattery for running the program. Indeed the students gave her a spontaneous round of applause during a well-organized ceremony.

“It’s a program that recognizes our students for good deeds,”she says.“It’s not always the top kids academically, but those who did the right thing. Of course we expect them to do the right thing, but this helps out.”

In addition to a car giveaway, Hyundai’s Sarah Stiefel raffled off some remaining gift cards, and senior Alexandra D’Orsi received a $1,000 scholarship check from her next school—Salem State.

Village Auto group president Ray Ciccolo brought the program to Boston six years ago after hearing about it at a national dealers meeting.

“Since the beginning, Keys to Success has been one of our most rewarding community programs,” he says.“To see the excitement and surprise in the eyes of each deserving teen when they win is an incredibly gratifying experience for everyone involved.”

Three of his dealerships—Honda Village of Newton, Hyundai Village of Danvers, and Volvo Village of Danvers—are sponsors of the program.

Additional drawings will be held at Danvers High this Thursday, *May 16* Waltham High this Friday, and Newton North High next Friday. *May 24* As more than one parent and teacher noted while watching the proceedings.“Wow. I wish they had this program when I was in high school.”

Buick’s Birthday (110)

Buick turns 110 this year. Through the end of 2012, Buick had sold more than 43 million vehicles—roughly the same number of total cars sold in the United States over the last three years. Several highlights: Buick’s traditional‘waterfall’grille originated with a 1938 concept car—said to be the first concept car—built by the legendary Harley Earl. The car featured power windows and was driven by Earl for more than a decade.This is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Buick Riviera, one of the company’s most beautiful cars. It’s said the design was inspired when designer Bill Mitchell spotted a Rolls-Royce through a London Fog.The Buick Electra 225 was introduced in 1959 with the 225 representing the vehicle’s length in inches.

Etc.

Speaking of milestones, Ford is looking forward to celebrating Mustang’s 50th anniversary next year. Since the Mustang’s introduction in 1964 the company has built more than 8.5 million of the now-iconic vehicles. That leads into a Tip for the Week: Next Saturday (May 18), the Mustang Club of New England sponsors a cruise for “American Iron” at Solomon Pond Mall in Marlborough from 3-8 p.m. Admission is free but a charitable donation to Autism Speaks is requested. All show cars must have fire extinguishers aboard … How ubiquitous is the iPhone? VW showed an iBeetle at the Shanghai Auto Show. It features a docking station in the dashboard. Snap the phone into the holder and the phone can be used for hands-free calls, navigation, and music and to run other apps and features.