VHS senior receives graduation gift of new wheels

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 23, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- One Valdosta High School senior is starting a new chapter in the driver's seat with an early graduation gift.

Every year, VHS faculty and district staff hold a drawing to award a new car to one lucky senior. On Thursday, the school held a graduation run through, ending with picking one name from a basket.

That name was Jalen Smith.

"I was like 'Woo, maybe they misspelled my name or maybe they mispronounced, maybe it's another person,'" Smith said. "I am just like so blown away, this is a blessing to me. I really need this car."

School officials said for years the car was donated through a program, but that program ended two years ago. Principal Dr. Janice Richardson said she couldn't let the car donation end with it, so she turned to community partners and support from Superintendent Dr. Todd Cason to make it happen.

"It just makes me happy to make them happy. They're deserving of transportation, he has a scholarship to go to [Valdosta State University], and I know that student didn't have a car, so now he has transportation," Richardson said.

Smith is a Sullivan Scholar, receiving a full ride to VSU. He said the car will help him on the road to pursue his degree in education.

"It's going to allow me to do things for my church easier, to do things for my family and just help out my mom the best I can," Smith said. "This is just really awesome."

It's a donation much bigger than four wheels.

Valdosta High School's graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday night at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.