BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If recent events are a sign, it’s clear George M. Southard Elementary has a lot of pride in its school.
The Southard community was awarded a $5,000 check Tuesday night for winning the Niagara County School Pride Contest. Sponsored by David Chevrolet Buick in Niagara Falls, schools had to complete a series of challenges and then were awarded points. And the school with the most points wins.
The challenges varied, but they all took place on David Chevrolet’s Facebook page. Schools would post messages and pictures, attempting to get people from their school to “like” the page. Some of the challenges included showing a pet in school colors, posting recipes with a school theme, posting Veterans Day pictures and posting video cheers or holiday songs for a school.
In the final week, there were three finalists, all Lockport based. George Southard, DeSales Catholic School and Charles Upson Elementary. And that’s how they finished.
Principal Ryan Schoenfeld was proud, calling George Southard a special place, just like the other schools that competed.
“The moments of seeing students, staff and parents rally together to do extraordinary things was simply priceless,” he said. “To cap it off, it was exhilarating to announce the outcome of the contest over our PA system and hear almost 600 people cheer so loud it raised the roof. We thank David Chevrolet Buick of Niagara Falls for the opportunity to navigate through social media in a safe and positive way and for allowing us to share some of the strengths of our school.”
Schoenfeld said it was a GMS faculty member, Tracy Williams, who “unselfishly spearheaded our team’s involvement from beginning to end.”
Williams received an invitation email about the contest roughly six weeks ago. After getting the details, Williams decided to go for it. Finding support from teachers and administration was simple.
”We are a school that loves a good competition,” she said.
Two of the biggest challenges was where George Southard really shone. One was a challenge to collect food for the Food Bank of Western New York, for which the GMS kids collected 1,246 non-perishable goods in six weeks.
The other was to raise money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. George Southard came through with $1,001.20 in coins to donate. Williams found out Monday that George Southard had won.
”We were very, very excited,” she said. “Everyone was involved.”
On David Chevrolet Buick’s Facebook page, a post by the dealership says although it wasn’t planned, there will be a prize for the second place finisher, DeSales.
Williams said the school is not sure yet how the winnings will be spent.
”But it will be something exciting to discuss after the winter recess,” she said.
Contact reporter Joe Olenick
at 439-9222, ext. 6241.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.