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Catholic elementary school makes run at $500,000 prize

.- Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic School, a 480 student elementary school in Missouri is competing for half a million dollars in a Kohl's department store online contest that ends Friday night. Though they still hope to be among the winning schools, they can already see the positive effects the contest has had on the community.

The school, located in Lee's Summit, Missouri is currently ranked in seventh place in the Kohl's Care Foundation's $10 million online contest. The top 20 schools in the country receiving votes via Facebook by Friday night will each receive $500,000.

Principal of Our Lady of the Presentation (OLP), Jodi Briggs told CNA that the school decided to participate in the contest in July in order to raise needed funds.

If the kindergarten through eighth grade school is one of the 20 winners, Briggs said, it will use the money to improve technology and add classrooms and spaces for students. “We are looking into adding additional classrooms or creating mobile computer labs” as well as “adding wireless capabilities” and “creating a multi-purpose space for band and choir,” she added.

Facing a growing number of students, the principal explained the expansion is needed as they currently “have to limit the number of students in classrooms, therefore creating a waiting lists for students wanting a Catholic education.”

Despite having an enrollment under 500 with the majority of students under the contest's minimum voting age of 13 years old, Briggs explained that the school has successfully promoted the contest so far due to “the huge volunteer base of parents and parishioners that have come on board to help.”

“Our parish, diocese and community have rallied behind us,” Briggs continued. At the parish level, she said that the OLP priests have been “encouraging people to vote after Mass.” In addition, parents of students have volunteered time to help retired parishioners set up Facebook accounts and vote in the school computer lab.

Within the diocese, Briggs told CNA that neighboring parishes lent a hand by allowing OLP “families to set up voting booths to vote after Masses,” and the local diocesan high schools “have allowed us on campus during lunch to allow students to vote.”

The community is also chipping in. Local restaurant Next Door Pizza gave out free appetizers to voters, and local college campuses allowed OLP supporters to set up voting booths in front of their respective Newman Centers.

Briggs said the effects of the contest on the community have been overwhelmingly positive. “The contest has truly brought life and unity to our parish. School families have joined with parishioners working for the benefit of everyone. It is amazing to see the relationships that have been formed between school families and parishioners.”

Chris Gray, the mother of two daughters at OLP, summed up the general feelings of the school community saying that though they all “want to win this money for our school and for our kids,” the community members have already gained a great deal: “a strengthened relationship between our school and parish, new friendships, an outpouring of support from family, friends and our community. Schools we have never heard of before have offered to help us! People we barely know have come through in such wonderful ways.

“We are so incredibly blessed!”

To learn more about Our Lady of the Presentation, visit: www.presentation-parish.org


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