By Kim Walter
Warren County High School is now $15,000 richer.
Thanks to the Cash for Schools contest powered by Safford of Winchester, the school was able to tally up enough votes to win the large chunk of change.
The contest, sponsored by 98.3 KISS FM, ran for three weeks in April and was open to all high schools in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester. Anyone choosing to support a particular school could vote online once per day.
Administrators tuned in to the radio station to learn the final results of the contest, according to Bobby Johnston, an assistant principal at the high school.
"They made the announcement at 2 p.m., and of course we had to hear it for ourselves," he said.
Afterward, a special announcement was made over the school's loudspeaker to inform students that their voting paid off.
Warren County High School won with 47.9 percent of the 42,133 votes. Coming in second was Sherando High School with 37.7 percent, and Skyline High School came in third with 5.4 percent.
Johnston said the staff and students decided to come together for the competition.
"We got the email about this contest, but when we realized the prize was so huge, we figured we might as well try," he said. "Someone had to win."
A big part of gaining the votes was getting the students involved. In order to keep them interested and voting, staff would come in early, before school started, and turn on all the computers. Students were asked to take a second and vote online before moving on to their classrooms.
Additional computers were set up and ready to take votes after lunch periods as well.
"We also encouraged kids to share the contest on Facebook so their family and friends could vote, too," he said. "Apparently we had someone voting for us all the way from Hawaii."
On Monday, the school held a special pep rally to receive the check and funds from sponsors.
The cash likely will go toward expanding technology usage throughout the school, Johnston said.
In addition to purchasing more iPads for classrooms, teachers would like to see an increased availability of "responders."
Johnston said the devices are linked to questions that teachers post on the smart board. Students can answer the multiple-choice question by entering their answer on the responder, and teachers can get immediate feedback.
"This way they know right away if a majority of students aren't following something," Johnston said."
Currently the school system has a few of the devices, but they have to be checked out for use. They have proven beneficial, though.
"Teachers can see trends and such ... it's all data-based," Johnston said. "We've really noticed that students respond well to the integrated technology."
While the school is obviously happy to win the amount of money, Johnston has noticed another positive result.
"Our students go really excited for this, they wanted to show their pride," he said. "It was a great cultural boost for us."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org