|December 23, 2008 - Bearden High School rallied community spirit in Knoxville and made the top 20 leader board this week in U.S. Cellularís Calling All Communities campaign.
The program, which will award $100,000 to 10 schools, challenges towns from across the country to rally together to give the schools of their choice a chance to share $1 million. So far, the 20 leading schools range from communities with populations as large as Chicago with two million residents to towns as small as Cairo, Mo. with slightly more than 300 residents.
"What makes this so exciting is that any school can rise to the top if their community rallies behind them," said Karen Ehlers, vice president of public affairs and communications for U.S. Cellular. "Just a few extra votes could make the difference in bringing a much-needed $100,000 home to your school. With less than 30 days left, it is truly anybodyís game."
Since the programís Dec. 3 launch, thousands have visited U.S. Cellular stores to vote for nearly 2,500 different schools across the country. Smaller communities continue to make a strong showing with nine of the 20 schools hailing from towns with less than 5,000 residents. The two top vote getters, Illini West High School in Carthage, Ill. and St. Joseph High School in Kenosha Wis., are tied, even though the sizes of their communities are vastly different. Carthage has about 2,500 residents. Kenosha has more than 160,000.
Other schools currently in the lead are McMinn County High School in Athens, Tenn.; Washington High School in Washington, N.C.; Midland Trail High School in Hico, W.Va; Lower Lake High School in Lower Lake, Calif.; Sigourney Junior Senior High School in Sigourney, Iowa; Gallistel Language Academy in Chicago; Canton High School in Canton, Ill.; Algona High School in Algona, Iowa; Richards R-5 School in West Plains, Mo.; Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn.; Hinckley-Big Rock Middle School in Big Rock, Ill.; Woodland High School in Fairfax, Okla.; Northeast Randolph County Elementary School in Cairo, Mo.; Heritage High School in Maryville, Tenn.; Spanishburg Elementary School in Spanishburg, W.Va.; Kuemper Catholic Elementary School in Carroll, Iowa; Mt. Pleasant Christian School in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and Paris High School in Paris, Mo.
"The level of community spirit being harnessed in support of these schools is amazing to see," Ehlers said. "Weíve heard stories of schools posting information on their websites, a football team passing out flyers at a local mall and a business placing flyers on pizza boxes to help spread the word. Itís obvious that people throughout these communities truly are connecting for the good of their schools."
"The community spirit and support of the Calling All Communities program is outstanding, and Iím thrilled to see three East Tennessee schools in the top 20," said Jack Brundige, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Tennessee. "Iíd like to see all $1 million awarded to East Tennessee schools, and I encourage everyone to come in to a store, vote for the school of your choice and spread the word. Bearden High School is working hard to reach out to school supporters. Iíve heard some Bearden football players gave up their Saturday morning to hand out flyers in their neighborhoods. Thatís school spirit!"
To vote for a school in your community, visit any U.S. Cellular store before Jan. 15, 2009 for a postage-paid postcard ballot. All schools in the U.S., public and private, serving kindergarten through high school are eligible for the award which will be announced in February 2009. No purchase is necessary to vote. The top 20 leading schools are posted weekly at participating U.S. Cellular stores and at uscellular.com/callingallcommunities.