High Point — More than 100 students lined up and tried to turn a key in the lock of the gleaming, royal-blue Dodge Dart.
One after another, their shoulders slumped, their smiles fell. They walked away disappointed.
But not Lindsay James.
Some in the crowd cheered for her as she walked up to the car. Then the crowd erupted into cheers and applause when she turned key No. 114, setting off the car’s alarm.
“I’m excited, but I can’t show it like I want to,” James later said with a big grin.
“I can’t. I’m too excited.”
The new car was the biggest prize Sunday at Guilford County Schools’ Cool to Serve event, which celebrates students who completed a significant number of service learning hours. Hundreds of students and their families gathered at the High Point Theatre in hopes of winning iPads,
iPods or the car.
Guilford students have completed more than 1 million service learning hours since 2010.
This year, 1,137 recent graduates earned a service learning diploma or a service learning exemplary award for completing at least 100 hours of service.
Of those, 599 completed 250 or more hours of service, making them eligible to win the new car.
“One of the things I think gets left out a lot of times in business schools and leadership courses and management curriculums is the fact that you can’t lead until you learn to serve,” said Brian DeFord, general manager of Ilderton Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram of High Point, which donated the Dart.
Alan Duncan, chairman of the Guilford County Board of Education, said students often tell him they get more out of volunteering than they expected.
That was true of James. The 17-year-old was a counselor-in-training for Windsor Recreation Center, working at a summer camp for children, including some in foster care.
James, who was a varsity cheerleader at Dudley, plans to study culinary arts this fall at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. After college, she wants to run her own business and hold cooking classes for children.
“You just can’t ask for a nicer person to win the car,” said Nina Johnson, the varsity cheerleading coach at Dudley. “She’s just got a warm spirit.”
James said she probably will drive her new Dart instead of the used car she already owns. She’s already gotten an offer for her old car.
When she won the Dart, her fellow Dudley classmate Dwayne James, who is not a relative, shouted to her, “You’re gonna sell me the Volvo, right?”