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Humphrey schools win $100,000 from U.S. Cellular

It was announced as an assembly with the superintendent of Catholic schools, but the Feb. 23 event wasn't just an assembly. It was a celebration - a $100,000 celebration at St. Francis Schools in Humphrey.

Although Msgr. James Gilg, superintendent of Catholic schools, attended the event, U.S. Cellular's CEO Christine Paulsen did the talking. She told the students the grade school and high school had won $100,000 in her company's recent favorite school contest.

She was joined by about 30 U.S. Cellular associates from Chicago and local branches, who sprang from hiding spots and threw T-shirts and fake money into the crowd and popped open confetti.

Humphrey St. Francis schools became the fifth winner announced in the company's 2009 "Calling All Communities" campaign that will donate a total of $1 million - $100,000 to each of the 10 winning schools. The nationwide contest encouraged communities to cast votes for their favorite school during the holiday season.

"This is simply incredible," Darron Arlt, principal of the schools, told the Catholic Voice. "We are a small school, and many people said it couldn't be done. But with the support of our 2,200 alumni, the community, our parish, and school families ... nothing is impossible with God."

Arlt found out Feb. 19 that the school had won, but had to keep it a secret until the Feb. 23 assembly.

The school, which has 223 students - preschool through 12th grades - beat out more than 6,500 other nominated schools to finish among the winners. More than 120,000 votes were cast in the six-week contest open to all schools serving grades K-12 across the country.

Arlt said the school board and Father Tom Bauwens, president of the schools, will decide how the money will be spent.

"The school board over the past year has written a five-year plan for our school, including maintenance of our facilities and our campus," he said. "We'll certainly now be able to attack some of those things. We will celebrate with some of it, but it will be spent very carefully in areas that have been identified as very necessary."

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