Monday, 17 June 2024

Lower Lake High in running for $100,000 prize

LOWER LAKE – Lower Lake High School is competing with high schools across the nation for the chance at winning one of 10 $100,000 grants being offered by US Cellular.

The competition is US Cellular's “Calling All Communities,” which began Dec. 3 and ends Jan. 15. It's open to all K-12 schools, public and private.

The 10 schools that receive the most nominations will each receive $100,000. The winners will be announced next month.

Michael Schenck, director of technology for Konocti Unified School District, reported that Lower Lake High was in seventh place on Jan. 2. However, by Jan. 9, the school was up to fourth place, and was the only California school to be in the top 10.

Schenck said the district is hoping to get as many participants as possible to a special voting event planned for noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Clearlake's Burns Valley Mall's US Cellular store.

Voting continues through Jan. 15, so there still is time for communities to rally behind their schools to win. Votes can be cast at any US Cellular store.

Stores in Lake County include the store in the Burns Valley Mall, 14896 Olympic Drive; DFM Car Stereo, 2600 S. Main St., Lakeport; and Plaza TV and Appliance, 360 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport.

"Small communities continue to hold their own against the big city schools in a fight to the finish," said Karen Ehlers, vice president of public affairs and communications for U.S. Cellular. "We can’t wait to see who wins but really we consider all of our customers across the country to be a part of our U.S. Cellular family. We are rooting for everyone."

Since its Dec. 3 launch, Calling All Communities has driven more than 40,000 people to U.S. Cellular stores to cast votes for their favorite school.

More than 5,000 schools have been entered into the contest that hinges on their ability to harness community spirit. Each week, new schools were propelled into the top list on the sheer power of their support.

Large and small schools continue to jockey for position in the coveted final 10 slots. Seven of the top schools this week are from communities with less than 5,000 residents.

Bearden High School in Knoxville hails from the largest city with 180,000 residents. The school powered into first place this week due largely to the efforts of its football team, who handed out flyers urging people to hurry in to U.S. Cellular store and vote.

Kinston High School in Kinston, N.C., is in the number two spot with a significantly smaller population of just under 23,000.

Humphrey St. Francis School dashed to third place up 12 spots from last week. The K-12 school sits in a small but mighty community of 768 residents in Humphrey, Neb.

Midland Trail High School in Hico, West Virginia, and Lower Lake High, both small schools, follow closely behind. Midland Trail, located in a community of just 900 residents, slipped to 10th place on this week’s list from its previous 8th place position. Lower Lake, whose town’s population is just 1,755, moved up from seventh to fourth place. Both schools plan to make a strong showing at community-wide last-call rallies with elected officials and local media to drum up votes this weekend.

High schools historically have dominated the leader board but one small-town elementary school, St. John the Evangelist Elementary School, has dug in its heels to remain in the top 10. However, the Carrollton, Ill. school currently ranks ninth, down from its number five spot last week.

Another elementary school, Garfield Elementary of Moline, Ill., moved onto the top 20 list for the first time this week at number 19, joined by two other newcomers, Waukon Senior High School (17th) in Waukon, IA. and Preston High School in Kingwood, W.Va. (20th).

"We are really dazzled at the creativity and spirit across the country. We have schools, districts, and towns planning rallies and doing whatever they can to get people out to vote," Ehlers said. "Now is not the time for leading schools to sit back and relax. Many schools are within striking distance of nabbing the top spots. A strong community surge could make all the difference."

There is still time to vote for a school in your community by visiting any U.S. Cellular store before Jan. 15, 2009 for a postage-paid postcard ballot.

All public and private schools in the U.S., serving kindergarten through high school, are eligible for the award which will be announced in February 2009. No purchase is necessary and each person can only vote once.

The top 20 leading schools are posted weekly at participating U.S. Cellular stores and at, where official rules also can be found.


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