With company representatives from US Cellular hiding in the principal’s office, Sue Hillison nervously awaited the results of a contest Tuesday morning.
Centennial Elementary was one of 4,000 schools competing for $25,000 in the US Cellular Calling All Communities Contest.
The top 20 would receive $25,000.
“I am pretty nervous,” Hillison told the students as they waited for the results. “We might actually not be in the top 20.”
As Hillison was talking to the students the US Cellular representatives were now waiting in the hallway to surprise the school.
“Do not be upset if we are not in the top 20,” she said. “We are going to persevere and try again next year.”
Hillison sat with the students and watched the clock.
The clock ticked to 10:30 a.m. and a video announcing the results was played for the students and faculty.
One school was announced 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 and were equally excited.
Hillison turned around and that is when she saw US Cellular representatives with flowers and a large check for $25,000.
She was offered a tissue because she was crying at this point and was asked to talk to the students.
“You are what perseverance is,” she said. “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 money from this contest will be used to benefit students throughout the district.
“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.”
Scott Preston, US Cellular Area Sales Manager, said Centennial worked hard to win the contest.
“This has been three years for you,” he said. “On behalf of US Cellular, congratulations on winning $25,000.”