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Elementary and Primary Education
Houston Independent School District
News Release
Monday, August 15, 2011

Lamar High School Graduate Wins Free Car at the ‘Cool to Be Smart’ Celebration


One recent HISD graduate won a free car Sunday, and many other scholars left Delmar Fieldhouse with scholarships and laptop computers to take to college, thanks to the inaugural HISD Foundation Cool to Be Smart Celebration.


Thu-Mai Nguyen, a graduate of Lamar High School’s International Baccalaureate program, won the grand prize, a Toyota Scion donated by Texas Direct Auto.


“Thank you to everyone who was part of this: Texas Direct Auto, Dr. Terry Grier and HISD,” said Nguyen, who will be attending the University of Houston to major in kinesiology.


Confetti fired from canons showered the field house stage as Nguyen hugged HISD Superintendent Terry Grier and clutched her car keys.


Nguyen said she didn’t have a car for college and was counting on her parents and siblings to provide her transportation.  She’s excited about being able to take her own car to college.


“It was a wonderful experience to see her excitement as she ran down to accept the car keys!  We are very excited for Nguyen and for all these students who are about to start college.  It was truly an honor to be here to share this moment with the students and their parents,” Jessica DeMarr, Director of Business Development at Texas Direct Auto.


Along with Nguyen, more than 100 recent HISD graduates and their parents attended this event.


The purpose of this new annual event is to encourage and recognize recent graduates who enrolled in five or more Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses or a combination of both and took the corresponding exams.  Students who score high enough on these exams are eligible to earn college credits. More than 950 students who graduated in 2011 qualified for this drawing.


“One of our strategies to help us become the best school district in America is to increase the rigor in our schools,” said HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier.  “Cool to Be Smart recognizes students who have stepped up to the plate and taken these advanced courses to better prepare themselves for college.” 


The number of HISD students taking AP exams increased 43 percent from 2009 to 2010, and the number scoring high enough to earn college credit increased 27 percent.  In 2011-2012, all HISD high schools will offer at least 15 AP courses.


The HISD Foundation began the giveaway by awarding ten $1,000 college scholarships.


“This event was a great idea and will motivate many students.  For now, I’ll be using my scholarship to pay for my books,” said Alba Devora, a graduate from Sam Houston High School.  Devora will be attending the University of Texas at Austin.


“The HISD Foundation was truly honored to have been here today to recognize these students who went above and beyond what was expected of them and share with them their excitement as they received these amazing prizes,” said Tina Medlin, president of the HISD Foundation.


Aside from the scholarships, the HISD Foundation along with the Microsoft Store at the Galleria gave away a total of 10 laptop computers.


“I’m really excited to have won this laptop!  My desktop at home kept crashing and losing my files.  Now I can take this one with me to college and use it for all my projects,” said Stephanie Mills, a graduate from Lamar High School.  Mills will be attending Tulane University to major in biology.


“This was a great event!  And we are thrilled to know that we are helping these students be better prepared for college,” said David Bachrach, Account Technology Strategist for Microsoft Corp.


About the HISD Foundation: The HISD Foundation provides philanthropic support and donor accountability for the seventh largest school district in the nation. Funds raised by the HISD Foundation provide resources to advance the core initiatives of the district’s Strategic Direction. Fundraising efforts focus on institutional priorities set by the superintendent of schools and board of education. A separate 501 (C) (3) nonprofit, the Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of business, community and philanthropic leaders. Programming is aligned with the district’s five core initiatives: Effective Teacher in Every Classroom; Effective Principal in Every Classroom; Rigorous Instructional Standards & Supports; Data-Driven Accountability; Culture of Trust through Action. For more information about the HISD Foundation please visit


The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 298 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.


For more information, visit the HISD Web site at

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