Chance to win $500k for Catholic school creates national buzz

Chance to win $500k for Catholic school creates national buzz


The opportunity for a Catholic high school in Nebraska to win $500,000 to help build a new kitchen is creating excitement and drawing voters from around the diocese, the city and Catholics of all ages across the nation.

Lincoln Pius X High School is battling with schools around the nation for a chance at $500,000.  The Kohl's Cares online voting contest began in July and ends on Friday, September 3.  Participants can vote up to five times for their school through Facebook, with the top 20 schools each receiving $500,000.

Currently Pius X is in sixth place and is one of only two Catholic schools in the top 20.

If they are among the winning schools, Pius X plans to put the prize money toward building a kitchen for the school's lunch program. Currently lunches are prepared in a building adjacent to the school.

Pius X Director of Guidance Jan Frayser explained to CNA that the school decided to enter the contest because, “the opportunity to win $500,000 must be taken.” 

While at first, the school's administration estimated that Pius X could end up in the top 20 with 40,000 votes, as more and more schools began to participate, they soon realized that a much larger number of supporters would be needed. The school currently holding the number 20 position has over 95,000 votes.

However, Frayser continued, the Nebraska school has received “incredible support from parishes, alumni, families, the Diocese of Lincoln and the city of Lincoln. We knew that if we could generate excitement that the many people who love and care about Pius would get on board and help.”

Now, with over 108,000 votes, Frayser notes, “That has definitely happened.”

Superintendent of Pius X Fr. James Meysenburg added that being a Catholic school has helped Pius X appeal to the “greater Catholic community.”

“The pastors of the parishes throughout the Lincoln diocese have made appeals to all their parishioners and friends, not only to vote, but to pass along the word to everyone they have met.”  The superintendent added that Pius X has also received “tremendous support” from the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska, as well as from students attending several local colleges.

Fr. Meyesenburg also shared that he received an e-mail from his aunt, Sr. Agnes, a religious sister in Milwaukee who told him that her order “put out an e-mail blast asking for votes for their Milwaukee schools, but also for Pius X, because Sister Agnes’ nephew needs our help.”

“The last several months, I have had some poignant reminders that catholic does mean 'universal' – this has been another opportunity,” he said.

The students from the school are also working hard to spread the word. Emma Morin, a senior, told CNA that groups of students have gone to “all the Catholic Churches in Lincoln,” to hand out fliers, encouraging the faithful to vote and even attended a town hall meeting to rally support for their cause. “I could go on and on with all the ways we have tried to promote this,” Morin added.

In addition to the expected, younger Facebook-savvy crowd, administrators have been amazed by the number of parents and grandparents who joined Facebook in order to vote. Fr. Meysenburg told CNA that several elderly from the local parishes have either called the school or dropped by, asking how they can vote.

As the contest deadline approaches, head guidance counselor Frayser said, “the Catholic community in Lincoln is excited and talking about the leader board,” in addition to “hoping and praying. Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about it. It has brought so much excitement to Pius and to the Catholic community and the entire city of Lincoln.”

Amidst the great excitement, the school is keeping its greater priorities in mind. Frayser explained that while the school “would like to end with one of the half million dollar (prizes) ... For us, it’s about faith. If we don’t finish in the top 20, we know that it is ok and God will provide for our needs.” 

“You know,” Fr. Meysenburg added, “I really hope we win $500,000 to help us build our kitchen. But even if we don’t the tremendous amount of excitement for Catholic Education and Pius X High School has really been edifying.”  He continued, “we ask for prayers  and support for Pius X, most importantly that we stay the course of being a Catholic School that really helps our students, staff and family on their journey of this life.”

The current list of schools in the top 20 is:

1.Hebrew Academy – Huntington Beach, California
2.Cheder Menachem – Los Angeles, California
3.Bais Chaya Mushka School (Girls) - Los Angeles, California
4.Silverstein Hebrew Academy – Great Neck, New York
5.Lucas Christian Academy - Lucas, Texas
6.Pius X High School – Lincoln, Nebraska
7.Darby Avenue Elementary – Northridge, California
8.Chadbad Hebrew Academy – San Diego, California
9.Jewish School of the Arts – North Palm Beach Florida, Florida
10.Jets Jewish Educational Trading School – Granada Hills, California
11.Good Shepherd Christian Academy – Fairfax, Virginia
12.Hebrew Academy Community School - Margate, Florida
13.St. Clement Coptic Orthodox Christian Academy – Nashville, Tennessee
14.Yeshiva Achei Tmimim Academy - Worcester, Massachusetts
15.Mout Ellis Academy – Bozeman, Montana
16.Our Lady of the Presentation – Lee's Summit, Missouri
17.Netan Eli Hebrew Academy – Reseda, California
18.Lake High School – Milbury, Ohio
19.United Lubavitcher Yeshiva Crown Street – Brooklyn, New York
20.Charlotte Jewish Day School – Charlotte, North Carolina

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