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Technology, renovations and school programs top wish lists for $100,000 prize winners

CHICAGO (March 24, 2010) – U.S. Cellular recently crisscrossed the country to surprise the 10 winning schools in its 2010 Calling All Communities campaign. The million-dollar tour marked by joyous celebrations at schools in seven states ended at an elementary school in the company's hometown of Chicago. Though the colorful confetti that accompanied the surprise announcements has been swept away, plenty of school spirit and community pride remain as the champions begin to spend their $100,000 prizes to maximize the impact for their students.

"At a time when many schools are being forced to cut their budgets, extra funding will help to keep schools strong," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. "I congratulate all of the winning schools and communities, particularly Central Lutheran School in Newhall, Iowa. This award will help provide the resources to give our children the education they need to compete in the global economy."

U.S. Cellular launched its second Calling All Communities campaign in November, giving communities across the country a chance to rally in support of their schools. The nationwide contest doled out $1 million to schools based solely on their ability to garner community votes. Some schools held rallies, book give-aways and voter drives at malls to earn support. Others marched in parades, created special jingles and passed out themed holiday ornaments to fuel community enthusiasm. Teachers and parents led the charge by motivating neighbors, family members, alumni, businesses, friends and strangers to vote.

Voter participation in the 2010 campaign nearly quadrupled last year's totals, with 430,000 votes cast for 6,800-plus schools nationwide. The winners that emerged included six public and four private schools from small rural and large urban communities in Iowa, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina. Tennessee, Illinois and North Carolina each had two winning schools.

Some schools, including Garfield Elementary School in Davenport, Iowa, rallied enough votes to make it on to the Top 100 lists during the campaign. The competition peaked and several underdogs dashed to the forefront in the final weeks but were unable to secure a Top 10 spot when voting ended.

"Even though we didn't win in the end, we are so proud of what we were able to accomplish together," said Debbie Whan Dierkes, a parent who worked hard to give Garfield Elementary School a shot at the prize. "Our community got to show our kids that coming together for a common goal is a victory in itself. Even so, we plan on winning next year!"

Jeff Childs, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for U.S. Cellular, said Davenport's experience was common. "You could sum up the driving factor behind this campaign with one word: unity. We witnessed incredible unity and determination among parents, teachers, big cities and small towns throughout this contest. Our hope is that all 6,800 schools that participated are proud of what they accomplished, the bonds they formed, the friends they made and the goodwill they created during this campaign."

The award has no strings attached and comes at a time when education budgets are being slashed across the country. Most champions already know how they will spend their jackpots. Kalmiopsis Elementary School in Brookings, Ore., plans to upgrade technology and build a new playground. A.H. Roberts in Livingston, Tenn., also plans to invest in new technology. A portion of the funds for Wayne Country Day School in Goldsboro, N.C. will go toward the purchase of Promethean Boards. B.F. Grady Elementary School in Albertson, N.C., will split some of the money among its teachers for classroom supplies before funneling the rest into its art, music and physical education programs.

Ten percent of the winnings for St. Francis Xavier School in Taos, Mo., will go to its parish, and a large portion has been earmarked for a new gym floor. Nettelhorst Elementary School in Chicago can't wait to invest in renovating its science lab. St. Liborius School in Crete, Ill., will purchase modular classrooms to consolidate its campuses.

Seymour High School in Seymour, Tenn., and Robert Lince Elementary School in Selah, Wash., plan to share the money with other schools in their districts. Central Lutheran School in Newhall, Iowa, also plans to pay it forward, giving each class $1,000 to use for a mission project. The classes chose a variety of beneficiaries including food pantries, child hunger and earthquake relief organizations, orphanages, missionaries and even other schools.

The campaign also will be featured on the popular morning show, "The Balancing Act," airing in early April on Lifetime Television. A full list of 2010 winners plus photos and videos of the surprise school events are at Videos are also being posted on YouTube and Facebook.

"I challenge anyone to watch the videos and not be moved by the pure joy on the faces of the students, teachers and parents," said Karen Ehlers, vice president of public affairs and communications for U.S. Cellular. "Giving is addictive. We can't wait to give another million dollars to support teachers when our Calling All Teachers campaign launches this fall."

Continuing its commitment to investing $4.5 million in schools in 2009-2010, U.S. Cellular's Calling All Teachers campaign allows public school teachers across the country to post their classroom needs at The company then funds $1 million worth of the projects. Last year, more than 2,100 teachers received support through the program.

About U.S. Cellular
The 9,000 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® Tour and the touch-screen LG Tritan and HTC Touch Pro 2, which offer e-mail and Web access. U.S. Cellular believes in the power of the community and has made a commitment to invest more than $4.5 million in teachers and schools during 2009 and 2010. Based in Chicago, the company 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 You can also check out U.S. Cellular on Facebook.

2010 Calling All Communities Champions:

  • Seymour High School - Seymour, TN
  • St. Liborius School - Crete Campus - Crete, IL
  • Central Lutheran School - Newhall, IA
  • Robert Lince Elementary School - Selah, WA
  • Kalmiopsis Elementary School - Brookings, OR
  • Wayne Country Day School - Goldsboro, NC
  • B.F. Grady Elementary School - Albertson, NC
  • St. Francis Xavier School - Taos, MO
  • A.H. Roberts Elementary School - Livingston, TN
  • Louis Nettelhorst Elementary School - Chicago, IL