They’re in the money!

Published 7:06 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

By Staff
Washington High wins $100,000 through U.S. Cellular contest
Lifestyles &Features Editor
Lady Luck smiled on Washington High School Tuesday afternoon with the announcement the school had received a $100,000 cash-prize from U.S. Cellular.
The school is one of 10 in the nation to receive the award as part of the company’s recent “Calling all Communities” campaign. The contest began in December, and the company announced it would name the winners in February.
As the deadline approached, WHS Principal Russell Holloman began to worry the school didn’t make the cut.
The top-secret announcement — disguised as a school assembly featuring interim Beaufort County Schools Superintendent William Rivenbark and members of the board of education — was made by Marcel Bekers, U.S. Cellular director of sales in eastern North Carolina.
The premise of the contest was simple — folks could pick up a post card from any U.S. Cellular location, fill in the name of the school they were voting for and drop the card in the mail. The 10 schools in the company’s 26-state coverage area with the most votes would be awarded $100,000 to use as they wished. An estimated 6,500 public and private schools were nominated, and more than 120,000 votes were registered during the contest.
Holloman said he was grateful for everyone’s support.
School personnel already have an idea how the money will be spent: A portion will be used to buy “extras” for classrooms, but much of the windfall is earmarked for college scholarships, Holloman said.
Holloman said it’s fitting that students benefit from the cash award since many of them actively campaigned to have family and friends — in Washington and across the country — vote for the school.
Among those pushing the effort for WHS was senior Austin Thompson, parliamentarian of the Student Government Association.
According to Kellie Szabo, an employee with U.S. Cellular’s Chicago-based office, the list of top-10 schools included two in North Carolina, two in Tennessee and one each in Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska, West Virginia and Wisconsin. She’s been a part of the announcement at each school, including the visit to West Virginia Tuesday morning.
Cutline for corresponding photo: Washington High School students react in the school gymnasium after the announcement Tuesday that WHS had won $100,000 from the U.S. Cellular “Calling all Communities” contest. The students are (from left to right): Anaii Jimenez, Leodegario Castaneda, Marcos Olivares, Rebeca Moreno, Llesenia Garcia and Christian Cristalis. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)