LAST CALL FOR ENTRIES IN U.S. CELLULAR'S $1 MILLION SCHOOL COMPETITION
CHICAGO, IL., January 9, 2009 – The race to place among the 10 schools to share $1 million has had more twists and turns than a holiday blockbuster. The action centers around local schools short on funds and long on spirit. All that's left is the climactic feel-good ending when $100,000 is awarded to each winning school in U.S. Cellular's Calling All Communities program. With the Jan. 15 voting deadline fast approaching, there still is time for communities to rally behind their schools to win.
"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. Two other small schools, Midland Trail High School in Hico, W.Va, and Lower Lake High School in Lower Lake, Calif., 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.
About U.S. Cellular
The 8,700 associates of U.S. Cellular believe a wireless phone enhances people's lives and a wireless company should be in the business of bringing people together. U.S. Cellular has a wide range of monthly plans, including those with unlimited nationwide calling, unlimited free incoming calls and options to prepay. The company has a growing catalog of phones like the BlackBerry® Pearl and Curve, and the touch-screen Samsung Delve, which offer e-mail and Web access. Based in Chicago, U.S. Cellular is the nation's sixth-largest wireless carrier, serving 6.2 million customers across the country. To learn more about the company visit one of its retail stores or uscellular.com.