09/22/11 — Family is dueling for cellular dollars

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Family is dueling for cellular dollars

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 22, 2011 1:46 PM

Wendy Hooks' appreciation for competition is well known.

Two years ago, while principal at Brogden Primary School, she motivated that community all the way to the finish line in the first year of U.S. Cellular's "Calling All Communities" campaign, earning $100,000 toward a new playground at the school.

The school was not eligible the following year, so she put her efforts behind Wayne Country Day School, where her daughter was a student at the time. WCDS used its $100,000 winnings from that year's campaign to purchase Promethean boards for classrooms.

Now principal at Tommy's Road Elementary, while vying for top spot in the third annual nationwide campaign, Mrs. Hooks is also engaged in a bit of sibling rivalry.

Her younger brother, Kevin Hunter, is principal of Hobbton Middle School, which was in first place when tallies were released last week. This week, his school is in third place, with Tommy's Road in fifth.

"He's very quiet about it, when he sets out to do something," she said Wednesday. "But he still gets the same thing accomplished.

"He tried the first year when Brogden Primary won. The second year he stayed in the top 10 the entire time. I even tried to help him because Brogden Primary couldn't play."

They may discuss the contest and standings, she noted, but they do not share strategies.

"He's always teasing me. The first time the money was given away, nobody really knew how U.S. Cellular was going to impact schools," she said. "He's always teasing me that I held back and didn't give him the word the first year."

Healthy competition is good for everybody, she said, and the three siblings -- her older sister works at Sampson Community College -- don't allow it to affect their closeness.

"My sister, her children went to Hobbton School, she's like (Kevin). She's quiet and subtle. She's helping him," Mrs. Hooks said. "It's all funny. She knows how I am. It's all fun and games because he's got a small school."

Ideally, with $1 million up for grabs, she is pulling for everyone to get a share.

"I want every Wayne County school that's in the top and I want him to win the money. I just want to win the top prize," she said with laugh. "We're hoping to both win something."

With less than two weeks left in the campaign, which ends Oct. 6, Wayne County is making a good showing.

In the nation's top 100, Wayne Christian is in 8th place; North Drive Elemen-tary, 12th; and Fremont Elementary jumped from 27th to 17th place.

Neighboring LaGrange Elementary remains in 10th place.

Supporters are encouraged to cast votes daily to ensure their choice will stay in the contest and become one of the 18 finalists.

The one with the most votes will receive $150,000, while the 17 runners-up will be awarded $50,000 each.

For more information on "Calling All Communities," visit a U.S. Cellular location or uscellular.com.