Pocatello car dealer makes good on promise

POCATELLO — Last fall, students in the graduating classes from elementary schools in American Falls, Blackfoot, Chubbuck and Pocatello were challenged by Jason Meador, general manager of Phil Meador Toyota, to have perfect attendance—bell to bell, all day every day—throughout the school year. Each student could have no absences, no tardies and no early outs.
The program was called PASS—Perfect Attendance Spells Success.
Ninety-four fifth graders from American Falls and Blackfoot received their mountain bikes and helmets Tuesday evening for perfect attendance during the 2010-2011 school year. Next Tuesday, 200 students attending elementary schools in Chubbuck and Pocatello will receive their bikes.
The reward is a 21-speed mountain bike with front suspension. The bike is made by Diamondback and is called "Outlook." The bikes come in sizes 14-, 16- and 18-nch, for growing room. Each student also received a bike helmet.
"This is great for communities and great for the kids," said Meador, organizer of the PASS challenge. "We [Phil Meador Toyota] looks to do things for the community, like the Fourth of July and the animal shelter.
"We are hoping to be able to do it again," Meador said. "We've heard stories how this challenge help change a student's whole attitude toward school, teachers, principals and grades.
"Jason engineered the program," said Phil Meador. "[The number of bikes given away] is double what we expected.
"We will review the success of this program to see if we will do it again," Meador said. "It's turned out to be a big undertaking."
The car dealership hosted a barbecue for the recipients and their families before presenting the bikes to the students.
Mia Toussaint from Wapello said, "I felt it was a good way for fifth graders to come to school to get more knowledge and not just ditch it.
"Because I stayed there, I studied and learned more," said Isaac Breshears, from Stoddard. "I didn't have to do make-up work."
Harrison Jacob Inskeep, from Ridge Crest, said he learned to "stay clean, to wash my hands daily and not to put fingers in my nose, eyes, mouth and/or ears.
"If a person is sick, kind of shimmy to the left or right away from him or her [so he could stay healthy]," Harrison said. "I am making history for myself."
Carson Davis, also from Ridge Crest, said, "This encourages students to go to school every day."
"I wanted a new bike," said Tanisha Coffey from Stoddard.
Christopher Martinez from Wapello agreed. "I needed a new bike."
His twin sister, Courtney, said, "I stayed in school because I had a goal."
Maddison High from Wapello said, "I thought I might learn something. I set a goal and proved I could achieve it and accomplish it."
Caleb Wilson from Stoddard said, "We live far away from school so I had to get up every morning to get to school.
"To get this bike, I couldn't miss a day in school," said Jevon Ramos from Stoddard.
Parker Morgan from Stoddard said his family likes to go on trips on the weekends. "We had to cancel some of our trips," he said.
"It is an excellent program," said Stoddard principal Ryan Wilson. "It motivated them to be in schol. It helped with ISAT scores and we achieved the highest attendance since I've been tracking it for five years.
"If students are in school, the students are bound to learn something," Wilson said. "Phil and Jason are great communicators and helped to keep this program going."
Lena Hunt from Fort Hall Elementary was the only person at that school to earn a bike.
Phil Meador Toyota purchased the bikes from Scott's Ski and Sports in Pocatello.
"This is the first time this incentive has been used in this area, said Brad Chilton, owner of Scott's Ski and Sports in Pocatello. "Originally, it was estimated 100 bikes would be given away. The final number totalled 294.
"We had two weeks to allocate inventory and then we were put into high gear to put together nearly 300 bikes," said Chilton.