Local high school wins $100,000 in national contest
Bert Church High School is undeniable.
The Airdrie high school celebrated with a holler, hugs and handshakes Jan. 25 when the news came in that it had won $100,000 in a nationwide contest sponsored by Under Armour.
“I’m still shaking,” said Bert Church principal Pam Davidson. “I was saying to some folks that (winning) is a bonus because the spirit and pride that was cultivated in the school during the first three months of that campaign was above and beyond what we could’ve expected.”
The contest began in the fall with hundreds of schools across Canada. A separate contest was held in the U.S. After two rounds of voting, Bert Church advanced to the final three. The contest closed Nov. 27, leaving the Bert Church staff and students sitting on pins and needles until the winning announcement was made.
“At first I was shocked,” said Bert Church Grade 12 student Hayley Sera. “Then, it started to sink in and everybody was posting Facebook statuses (about the win) and I was ecstatic. It’s amazing. One hundred thousand dollars is a lot and we can really use it.
“I felt like (the school) came together as a unit and we were able to grow as a school because (Finding Undeniable) was a common theme throughout it and it was something everybody was able to connect to.”
Throughout the four months, the schools were required to complete challenges that were determined by Under Armour and included everything from sending in photos of the school’s trophy case to videotaping chants and cheers. The schools were also given the option to do wild card challenges, which they got to create and upload to the Under Armour website. Bert Church students flooded the page on the Under Armour website with the wild card challenges, including a video of staff members bobsleighing down the track at Canada Olympic Park and students doing the Haka dance.
It gave the staff and students a chance to get creative, but what began as an effort to win money for the school’s athletic teams became a venture that the school’s clubs, service groups and the whole community of Airdrie took part in.
Mayor Peter Brown became an advocate for the contest and urged the community to vote and Wildrose MP Blake Richards, whose son Quinn is a student at the school, created a video supporting Bert Church’s entry into the contest.
“It didn’t matter if you were an athlete, an arts student or a community service student, everyone came together to support it and that speaks to the spirit this brought out in the school,” said Davidson.
Out of the final three contestants, Bert Church was the smallest school with 971 students. Carol Smith, the Phys. Ed. teacher who spearheaded Bert Church’s entry into the contest, said they felt like the underdogs until it came to the playoff rounds.
“We were the smaller school, but we put in so much effort that when you look at all the things we did, we looked like the bigger school,” she said. “It’s surreal, but it was ours to win.”
The $100,000 prize will now be divvied up between the school’s athletic teams at the discretion of Under Armour and Smith said the money will go towards purchasing new uniforms for the teams.
Andy Kirk, the school’s football coach, echoed Davidson and Smith’s sentiments about how the contest grew beyond the walls of the school.
“With the expense of the uniforms, from a financial perspective, it’s wonderful,” he said.
“It’s proof to our students and the community that if you put your mind to something as a big group working towards something, you can have phenomenal results.”
George McDougall High School and Cochrane High School were the other Rocky View schools that took part in the contest. Cochrane made it to the top 50 while George Mac was eliminated in the early round of voting.