POLO – While company representatives from US Cellular hid in the principal’s office Tuesday morning, Sue Hillison, who works in the computer lab, nervously awaited the results of a contest.
Centennial Elementary was one of 4,000 schools competing for $25,000 in the US Cellular Calling All Communities Contest. Students tried to get as many people as possible to vote for their schools.
The top 20 would receive $25,000 each.
“I am pretty nervous,” Hillison told students as they waited in the gym for the results. “We might actually not be in the top 20.”
As Hillison talked to the students, the US Cellular representatives moved into the hallway to surprise the school.
“Do not be upset if we are not in the top 20,” Hillison said. “We are going to persevere and try again next year.”
She sat with the students and watched the clock.
When the clock ticked to 10:30 a.m., a video announcing the results was played for the students and faculty.
One school was announced, and then it appeared on the screen – Centennial Elementary School.
Hillison jumped to her feet, almost in unison with the students, and raised her arms in celebration while shouting.
She ran down the bleachers, shouting and pumping her arms with excitement that the school won.
The students were also shouting.
Then Hillison turned around and saw US Cellular representatives with flowers and a large check for $25,000.
She was offered a tissue because, at this point, she was crying.
“You are what perseverance is,” she told students. “We just got $25,000. I am proud of you.”
Next year, the school plans to win the contest again for Aplington Middle School.
“I am beyond excited,” Hillison said. “I am so proud of the kids and the community. I would like to thank US Cellular. They did so much for us.”
The prize money will be used to benefit students in all Polo schools.
“We are in the process of deciding how the money is used,” she said. “The administrators will help, but the money will be used to help the students throughout our district.”