Oak Forest's St. Damian School is $50,000 richer, after being named a 2012 Champion in U.S. Cellular’s "Calling All Communities" campaign.
"Our theme for this school year is 'all in' and everyone has been all in on this contest," said Principal Colleen Domke. "Teachers, faculty, family—you had to be 18 years old to participate, so this wasn't on the students, this one was all on our community."
And the community stepped up, in a big way—even elderly members of the parish carpooled to U.S. Cellular stores to cast their votes. St. Damian was one of more than 1,300 schools competing for a $150,000 prize, and one of 17 top finishers who secured the $50,000 check.
The money will be used to fund a technology package that included replacing chalkboards with whiteboards and smart boards. With each vote, participants were also able to choose one of three packages for how to spend the money, Domke said.
"We're thrilled," Domke said. "Just really thrilled."
Other winning Illinois schools included: Aqsa Islamic School in Bridgeview, Ill., Columbia Central School in Steger, Ill., and St. Michael School in Orland Park, Ill. The contest awards $150,000 to the school that garners the most online votes and the next 17 schools receive $50,000 each.
All 18 winners in the 2012 campaign were revealed today in a video from U.S. Cellular’s president and CEO, Mary N. Dillon, which was posted on the company’s website (uscellular.com).
For the third year in a row a school in Seymour, Tenn., a suburb of Knoxville with 11,000 residents, has captured the top prize in the wireless carrier’s $1 million nationwide campaign to support education. Seymour Middle School rallied the most votes to take home the $150,000. In 2011, Seymour Primary School was the big $150,000 winner and Seymour High School won $100,000 the year before.
Seymour joins three other Tennessee schools in the Top 18, including two from Cookeville. Illinois matched Tennessee’s statewide total with four winning schools, Iowa tallied three winners and North Carolina and Oklahoma each had two. Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin had one winner apiece to round out the list of 2012 champions
More than 180,000 votes were cast during the 2012 campaign for 1,368 schools nationwide. Each week the Top 18 list was reshuffled as new schools rose up the ranks. In the final week of voting, four schools outside of the Top 18 made a strong push and secured enough votes to end up in the money: Big Pasture Elementary School in Randlett, Okla., Hugo Middle School in Hugo, Okla., Isaac Newton Christian Academy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Northeast Elementary School in Cookeville, Tenn.
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