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Belk Bowl grants benefit three local schools

Three schools in south Charlotte will have some extra cash this year to purchase much needed technology for their students, teachers and classrooms.

Students and staff at Beverly Woods Elementary and Quail Hollow Middle schools in south Charlotte were surprised earlier this week when they were announced as winners of the second annual “Rocking the Belk Bowl” contest and received $25,000 each to spend on technology. Hough High School in north Mecklenburg County also was named a top winner.

In addition, Elon Park Elementary in south Charlotte, along with Cornelius, Hornets Nest and Rivergate elementary schools and Piedmont Middle School were all named runners-up in the contest, each receiving $15,000 technology grants.

“We were absolutely surprised,” Kelly Dowdy, the assistant principal at Beverly Woods Elementary, said. “To be awarded a large grant like that – with it being so much money, we wanted to win, but you never really expect it.”

The contest began in October and challenged Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools to create and display educational and Belk-themed designs on school rocks or bulletin boards. In return, the schools had a chance to win a technology grant for their campuses and an allotment of tickets to the Belk Bowl college football game at Bank of America stadium Dec. 28 if they came in the top three.

“The contest is a great way for the schools to demonstrate their passion for technology and sports and for Belk to support education in this community as part of our Belk Bowl activities,” Jon Pollack, Belk, Inc. executive vice president of sales promotion, marketing and eCommerce, said in a news release.

At Beverly Woods, Dowdy said talent development teacher Cheri Lowe worked with about 25 fifth-graders at the school to brainstorm and collaborate to come up with a bulletin board idea. Combining bits and pieces of different students’ ideas, and colliding themes of technology and football, the class came up with the slogan “Let’s huddle around technology and watch us rock our goals.”

The school will use the money to contribute to the school-wide effort of purchasing a classroom set of iPads for each grade level, Dowdy said. The effort was started through the school’s parent-teacher association’s Give Campaign. Dowdy hopes the funds will be just enough to help meet the school’s goal.

At Quail Hollow Middle School, art teacher Kelsey Cash said it’s the students who came up with their rock designs, which featured a 3D football player in front of a Belk store on one rock and a collage of images on the second

“We actually used a lot of paper mache for this project,” Cash said. “The students wanted to do something different. They basically designed the whole thing. I help ask the questions and they pick the idea and figure out how we will do it.”

Cash and her class also were named winners of last year’s “Rocking the Belk Bowl” contest, so the student’s weren’t expecting two wins in a row for such a large grant, Cash said.

This year, about 16 advanced-art students in Cash’s encore “yogart” class, which combines art and yoga, designed the rocks.

“We do it because it’s fun and the kids are passionate about something. They feel good because they did something good for their school,” Cash said, adding the school is still deciding how to spend the technology money.

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