Melissa Maisch had dreamed of this moment: The plush limousine sliding to a stop, the flash of cameras, the rows of dignitaries and reporters shouting questions.
It was all there yesterday morning when the 16-year-old emerged from a sleek white limo in front of Old Mill High School.
"Oh, gosh!" she gasped, hugging her entourage, school friends Jennifer Laning and Karl Clodfelter, who tumbled out after her. "I feel like princess of the morning!"
Maisch's name was selected in a random drawing of nearly 900 students who had perfect school attendance this month. The school holds monthly drawings for more than 40 prizes, ranging from free pizza to videos to the limo ride. Any of the school's 2,200 students with a perfect attendance record for the month are eligible.
Principal Mary Gable and vice-principal Paul Vandenberg welcomed the winner yesterday.
"Congratulations, did you enjoy it?" asked Vandenberg, as the students clambered out of the luxurious navy interior.
The teen-agers couldn't answer for a moment. They were too busy enjoying the role of celebrities.
The monthly drawingis part of the school's Attendance Incentive program, which tries tomotivate young people and reward them for a job well done, Vandenberg said. Names of those with perfect attendance are put into a big boxand the winner announced over the school's public-address system, Gable explained.
This is the program's first year. In the fall, school representatives called hundreds of local businesses, and many agreed to help, Vandenberg said.
Gary Koch, a driver for Severna Park Limo, provides the special ride to school once a month. West Coast Video and Top Hits Video donate tapes. McDonald's provides dozens of prizes, including soda and sandwiches.
Maisch has a record of perfect attendance, and she said she'd have made it to school every day this month, even without an incentive. And though the ride was short, since herhouse is just a block from the school, it felt good to be rewarded, she said.
One of her companions for the ride, 15-year-old Clodfelter, discoursed suavely about the special transportation.
"Atleast I don't have to rent one this week," he joked.
But Maisch, glowing in a red blazer and elegantly tilted hat, was downright ecstatic.
"I felt wonderful!" she said. "I kept thinking of all the movie stars who get out of the limo, and everybody's standing out in front. Today, that was me!"