Marking a rite of passage to adulthood, Garen Sharp stopped at a store on the morning of his 18th birthday to test his luck.

The scratch-off lottery tickets he bought May 1 at the Speedway near Meijer in Richmond turned out to be worth $83. But that was just the beginning of his good fortune on a day he’ll never forget.

That afternoon, he arrived at Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Celebration at Wayne County Fairgrounds. The Northeastern senior received an invitation because he’s had perfect attendance this year. 

The 138 honorees from Wayne County’s six high schools with nearly perfect attendance each select a number upon entering. 

Students wait for their number to be called as electronics, gift cards and other prizes are distributed. The last person wins a car or scholarship worth $26,000. 

When Sharp arrived, fewer than 10 numbers remained on the board. 

Remembering his winnings from earlier, he chose 83.

That turned out to be an excellent choice.

To kick off what he described as a “really great evening,” Sharp enjoyed refreshments and met a lot of nice people. 

He expressed gratitude for the event’s many sponsors, which include Wetzel Auto and First Bank Richmond. 

Dot Foods donated pizza and students sampled Parlor Doughnuts, which is coming to Earlham Commons. Richmond Parks and Recreation Department provided games and Ivy Tech brought five virtual reality headsets to try. 

Sharp took a seat and waited to see what prize he would win. 

He said those around him seemed “super anxious,” but he decided to be calm and collected. 

“I had the same odds as everyone else, and there was no use stressing over it,” he said. “Everybody wins something, so I’d walk away happy and grateful no matter what.”

In addition to their prize, each student receives a $1,000 scholarship to Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University East.  

As time went on, Sharp thought there were still a lot of students with numbers remaining. When those whose numbers hadn’t been called were asked to stand, Sharp was surprised to be one of the final 10. 

That was the first time he realized he really had a chance of winning the top prize. 

When the five finalists were brought on stage, he began thinking, “Man, I could really win this thing.” 

Soon, it was down to Sharp and Centerville’s Colton Rinehart, and they were guided to stand in front of the auto. He remembers feeling tense as he realized photos and videos were being created of them. 

When he heard emcee Rick Duncan call the number 67 to award Rinehart a second place price, Sharp recalls feeling astonishment that he had just won a car.

Garen’s parents, Elanda and Mike Sharp, were pleased to learn the news, and the day after, Elanda said she was still “overwhelmed” by the surprise.

He’ll soon go to Wetzel Auto to check out his two options — a 2024 Honda Civic or a Chevy Malibu — and decide.  

Sharp said he usually has good attendance at school and only stays home when he’s really sick. He pushed through minor illness this year to attend school because a car could be on the line and he was “dead set” on qualifying.

He said he already has a college fund, and he had planned to buy a car after graduation that offered better fuel mileage and more reliability for road trips.

He’s currently driving a 1988 Ford Ranger that currently runs well but doesn’t offer modern amenities such as air conditioning or power steering.

Sharp has appreciated the opportunities he’s received for hands-on learning the past two years through Richmond Area Career Center’s automotive technology program. 

He expected the vocational program would help him learn how to work on his own vehicle and would be fun. He now realizes he’s learned life lessons, too.   

Sharp said he doesn’t mind going to school because he enjoys learning and it’s always beneficial. He recalls seeing a poster encouraging attendance that notes “Every day counts.” 

“And it does,” he said.

Sharp, who has increased his knowledge of farming through participation in FFA and crops projects in 4-H, plans to study agriculture business at Ivy Tech Community College in Richmond.  

Seniors recognized for attendance


Joseph Davis, Alivia Anderson, Paige Lunsford, Katelynn Osborne, Jeran Troutwine, Phoenix Davis, Reagan Sturgis, Elijah Berry, Ethan Blevins, Ben Bogue, Bailey Burgin, Mia Cupp, Christian Davis, Sarah Nieukirk, Brody Puckett, Kyra Revalee, Natalie Rihm, Vince Sorah, Rylee Riggs


Makayla Adams, Lowell Berger, Collin Beaty, Lucas Brown, Christopher Burris, Carter Craig, Kori Craig, Abigail Dalrymple, James Doll, Kayne Ervin, Kasiti Ferriell, Katie Glunt, Townsend Gross, Ruthie Hilbert, Caleb Jones, Logan Klein, Scout McMurray, Peyton Meyer, Mallory Mosier, Ava Neuman, Connor Phelps, Grant Shaffer, McKenzie Shook, Johnathon Terhaar, Jakob Thompson, Morgan Williamson, Leigha York, Kaden Young


Nicholas Battista, Aurora Biava, Lane Brown, Ashlyn Bullock, Alexa Butler, Xavier Callins, Braydon Click, Brandyn Couch, Abrielle Foster, Delaney Foster, Dori Gabbard, Gavin Gault, Alexandra Goodwin, Lorelei Guenther, Zackery Hugo, Tizeta Jarvis, Riley Jaynes, Sielo Landa, Hanna Mathews, Sydney Miles, Nathanial Minton, Kollyn Peed, Colton Rinehart, Robert Ringley, Caleb Robertson, Joseph Shaffer, Krista Smith, Bryson Soper, Joshua Strain, Amanda Stuckey, Braden Tedder, Cai Thompson, Trevor Thornburg, Benjamin Withers, Haylee Wood, Emilee Wren 


Grant Craft, Nolan Drake, Sady Gammon, Blake Hampton, Garen Sharp, Draven Vaughn, Grace Stockton, Jaymelee Adams, Bryce Burwick, Nevaeh Chapman, Raegan Crank, Mason Lewis, Joshua May, Gabriel Stanley, Austin Toschlog, Bella Burrows, Hannah Shroyer, Ella Coddington, Mallory Noland, Jacob Chasteen, Chase Siliven


Alyssa Renee Amyx, Erika Alexandra Aquino-Mendoza, Melissa Lynn Black, Maggie Eloise Blair, Chloe Cheng, Ethan Anthony Villaflor Cordova, Olivia Jane Dudas, Macie Lynne Ferguson, Yael Garcia Gomez, Owen Benjamin Griffin, Jesus Yahir Hernandez-Rojas, Samuel C. Humphrey, Rylen Marcus Johnson, Lindsey Sarah Nicole Lear, Seth Adam Martin, Lilly Leanne Meece, Ethan Daniel Miller, Tim Million, Dustin Isaiah Moore, Josiah Benton Moore, Isabella Marie Roll, R’javia Lynn Nicole Segrest, Abigail Anne Shull, Ashley Jade Sparks, Allison Nicole Stout, Marin Li Feng Tanner, Isabel Torres-Mejia, Lukin Allen Uhte


Mary Daoud, Maddie Davis, Mason Harvey, Diego Julian, Jerry Patmore, Andrew Warner

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A version of this article appeared in the May 8 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.