FSMS makes last push for votes

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fort Scott Middle School is making one final push for votes this week in the U.S. Cellular Calling All Communities campaign which ends Friday.

FSMS is partnering with local individuals and businesses to hopefully finish the contest with a voting surge. The school finished the month of December ranked No. 59 in national voting, and has an array of events lined up throughout the campaign's final week to fuel an attempt to become ranked among the contest's top 10 schools.

In the campaign, K-12 schools across the country are trying for a chance at sharing $1 million donated by U.S. Cellular.

Activity in the FSMS campaign has picked up significantly since the most recent release of the contest standings a few weeks ago. The following activities, which include partnerships with local businesses to provide incentive to support the school, will take place in Fort Scott this week to encourage a continued upswing in the number of people voting:

* FSMS hosted an open house event Monday in which attendees could vote online. The event was sponsored by the local McDonald's Restaurant, which offered a free hot fruit pie to anyone who voted.

* FSMS is working with the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce and local employers to encourage events in which employees may vote while at work on Tuesday and Wednesday. FSMS is also working with Fort Scott Community College to get students to vote on campus with volunteers helping encourage people to vote.

* FSMS will host another open house event from 2:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday in which attendees may vote online. This event is sponsored by the local Sonic Drive-In which will offer a free Cherry Limeade beverage to anyone who votes.

* Local residents will be able to vote online via Wi-Fi wireless Internet access from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday at McDonald's Restaurant, 2224 S. Main St. Anyone who votes will receive a free large soft drink. A second activity on Friday will involve volunteers at the Fort Scott High School basketball game that evening who will use the school computer lab to encourage voting.

There are several other activities that FSMS has been involved in to communicate and promote the campaign the last two months, including prize drawings, flyers and other advertisements at local businesses, candy bars as incentives and rewards, and others.

U.S. Cellular's Calling All Communities campaign, which began in November, will award $100,000 to each of the top 10 schools throughout the United States that receive the most votes -- money that can be spent on educational projects of the school's choice.

FSMS has been moving up the national top 100 list since breaking in at No. 74 on Dec. 10. The school moved up 15 spots to 59th by Dec. 23, which was the last release of top 100 standings by U.S. Cellular.

Local resident Rhonda Dunn, who has helped coordinate the FSMS campaign including this week's voting events, said she is pleased to see how people in the school and the community have responded to the campaign.

"It's been a really great thing to watch how different parts of our community have come together," she said.

Donations of time, money and food have come from a variety of people and businesses in the community.

Dunn said the school's goal of making the contest's top 10 list is attainable.

"There have been a lot of activities and motivation," she said. "I think we can win this money ... If we get 50 votes at a basketball game, that makes a big difference. Every single vote for us really does count."

Winners will be announced in February when the 2010 contest champions are revealed. Anyone who is 18 years of age or older may vote by picking up a voting code at any U.S. Cellular store or voting at any of the local events this week. Local voting locations include CP Communications, 300 E. 23rd St., Central Communications, 2 N. National Ave., or CP Communications, 2400 N. Broadway, Pittsburg.

Partnerships between schools and communities are producing record-breaking voter participation. More than 170,000 votes have been cast for more than 6,000 schools, a U.S. Cellular statement said.

For more information, visit www.uscellular.com/callingallcommunities.