Exchange Rewards Military Students with $4,000 in Gift Cards for Academic Excellence

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Story by Conner Hammett on 02/06/2017
For 11-year-old Dallas Lein, working hard at school has paid offliterally.

On Jan. 20, the Grovetown, Ga., resident was presented with a $2,000 gift card, the grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service's You Made the Grade sweepstakes, at the Fort Gordon Exchange.

"I was nervous and really excited at the same time," Dallas said.

Dallas attends Lewiston Elementary School, where his favorite subjects are reading and math. He is also enrolled in Horizons, a program for gifted students. He was picked from nearly 400 students with a B average or higher who entered the sweepstakes.

Dallas plans to split the $2,000 gift card with his 9-year-old brother, Gabriel, who is also an A student. The boys' father, Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Lein, has served in the Navy for 11 years.

"I'm very proud," said Krystle Lein, the boys' mother. "They've both done so well, and this sweepstakes only gives them another incentive to get a good report card. Now they know they have money on the line."

The Exchange also awarded second- and third-place prizes in the worldwide sweepstakes. Second-place winner, Kahlil Townsend, a ninth-grader at N.B. Clements Junior High in Price George, Va., was awarded a $1,500 gift card at the Fort Lee Exchange on Jan. 30.

Kahlil, 15, is the son of Air Force Lt. Col. Terrence Kilgore. His favorite subjects are math and P.E., and he hopes to be a professional soccer player or marine biologist when he grows up. Kahlil plans to spend the first $500 of the gift card on video games while saving the remaining $1,000.

Third-place winner, Maximus Rojas, was awarded a $500 gift card at the Fort Belvoir Exchange on Jan. 21. Maximus, 13, is an eighth-grader at Gunston Middle School in Arlington, Va. His father, Commander Rodrigo Rojas, has served in the U.S. Coast Guard for nearly 20 years.

Maximus has an acute interest in astronomy and hopes to either be an astrophysicist or engineer when he grows up. He hopes to one day join the search for intelligent life in outer space. He said he will put the gift card toward a new laptop.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange's senior enlisted advisor, said the Exchange is honored to recognize high-achieving students.

"The Exchange salutes the hard work, dedication and determination of these students," Reyes said. "Despite the frequent moves and everyday stressors that go along with military life, they have set an example of academic achievement for other military children to follow."

Through the Exchange's You Made the Grade program, first- through 12th-graders with a B average or higher are eligible to receive a coupon book with Exchange discounts and a sweepstakes entry form for a chance at a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 prize. The program is intended to reward military students who excel in the classroom. Those who enter must be dependents of authorized Exchange shoppers.

Shoppers can visit customer service at their local Exchange for a coupon booklet and sweepstakes entry form. The next You Made the Grade sweepstakes drawing will be on June 30.

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