Chicago, IL — In a move that surprised even fans of the famous media mogul, television star Oprah Winfrey bought the entire graduating high school class of Jerome Ross Academy brand new electric cars. The class was greeted with 75 Chevrolet Volts in the parking lot adjacent the auditorium where the ceremony had just finished.
“I was like, ‘oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening,'” said senior Alicia Walker, 17, speaking from the driver’s seat of her new car. “I am so grateful to Oprah. She literally is the best, next to my Daddy.”
Jerome Ross Academy was founded in 1998, by Jerome Ross who is one of the founders of the San Ramon, CA-based Ross Dress for Less clothing store chain. The purpose of the charter school captures “power of self-reliance principles and utilizes current national research about best teaching practices, combining them in the classroom to promote high academic achievement and character development for economically disadvantaged communities.” Since its founding, the school has been lauded for its great successes and 4 other campuses have opened in Detroit, Newark, Boston and Modesto, CA.
Ms. Winfrey was not present at the event, but was attending another fund-raiser in New York City for the Critter Connection, a foundation that rescues and rehabilitates abandoned or neglected guinea pigs.
The celebration was not without its issues, however. Several of the Volt vehicles were not properly charged and had to be towed to an appropriate charging station. And one car was stolen during the ceremony, leaving one student without a car. A spokesperson for the Oprah Winfrey foundation said they would replace the stolen car.
The total cost of the fleet was estimated at over $2.5 million dollars. Students will be responsible for covering the cost of insurance, gasoline and maintenance.