DANVERS — When Danvers High junior Kelsey O'Brien stuck the key in the ignition, she saw the dashboard lights blink on, but the car did not turn over.
It wasn't that she had a dead battery; instead, she thought she had lost her one and only chance to win the red 2005 Hyundai Elantra in a car giveaway run by the Keys to Success program.
Students who do good things or get good grades at Peabody Veterans Memorial High or Danvers High are eligible for the car giveaway, sponsored by the Village Automotive Group.
O'Brien did not give up and kept turning the key in the car parked inside Peabody High's field house.
Then, the car's engine turned over.
"The first click, you know how you get all the lights? I thought everyone got that, so I was like: 'Oh,'" Kelsey said. "Then I kind of kept pushing, and there was resistance, and I was like: 'This is going to turn on. Oh, my God. Amazing.'"
O'Brien's mom, Julie, was crying and her father, Bob, could not stop laughing when a mini-confetti cannon went off announcing Kelsey had won the car in the contest sponsored locally by Hyundai Village of Danvers.
Danvers won the coin toss, Kelsey said, which led students from each school to alternate in trying their keys in the ignition. Kelsey said the key she picked from a plastic container did not look right, so she thought it was a fake.
"She thought her groove looked different on her key," Julie O'Brien said.
Kelsey was just the ninth student to try her luck.
She became involved in the Keys to Success program by accident, after she volunteered to become an assistant in a life skills special-needs classroom taught by teacher Matt Bencal.