School spirit is through the roof at O'Fallon's Fulton Jr. High School with news of besting 27 other St. Louis and metro-east schools in the 2018 Buffalo Wild Wings Spirit Bracket Challenge, including its sister school Carriel Jr. High.
"The Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser was such a fun event for students and their families. I most enjoyed seeing the school spirit that permeated our two junior high schools. When Fulton advanced to the final round, Carriel stepped in to support their fellow District 90 peers. It was an illustration of the incredible support our community has for our schools," said Carrie Hruby, O'Fallon School District 90 superintendent.
Fulton will receive a $2,500 grand prize from Buffalo Wild Wings for winning the challenge in addition to the money raised during its fundraiser nights.
The four-round challenge consisted of 28 schools having fundraiser events at local Buffalo Wild Wings locations from Feb. 12 to March 12.
Each school competed to raise the most money for its school during the events and moved onto the next round of the challenge based on which school raised the most.
Each school still gets to pocket their 15 percent of the Buffalo Wild Wings sales from the night of their event(s), regardless of moving on to the next round or not.
▪ Carriel: Earned $813
▪ Fulton: Earned $4,000
Carriel made it to the final four. Both schools held celebratory activities the week of March 5, while Fulton progressed on.
Fulton's total $6,500 will go toward purchasing a new digital marquee for the front of the school, which "we are super excited about," Joi Wills, Fulton principal, said.
"This marquee may seem like a luxury item, but we see it as an opportunity to communicate and to share our proud moments with the community," Wills said.
Excitement is high with students, staff and parents, according to Alex Herrell, Fulton assistant principal.
"No matter what grade level or club or team a kid belonged to, they all recognized they have a common thread among them--we’re all Panthers. And they rallied together to make this thing happen," Herrell said.
When the announcement was made to students during school on Tuesday, March 13, Herrell said, "you could literally hear the screams of excitement through the walls."
"It's a great feeling to have won the competition and earned money for our school, but even more than that, the most excitement has come from watching the school come together to showcase their Panther Pride," Herrell said.
Herrell said the challenge wasn't easy but the school spirit helped the school persevere.
"While it has been an exhausting four weeks with so many patient supporters eating more chicken than they care to admit, it was all worth it. I am very proud to be a part of the Fulton Family," Herrell said.
Wills and Herrell, both spent the night sleeping on air mattresses in their respective offices at the school on Tuesday, March 13 as a promise made to students to encourage participation in the fundraiser if they won the challenge.
"Sleeping on air mattresses in our offices was a little cramped, but it was all in good fun. We sat in the lobby (Wednesday) morning enjoying our breakfast brought to us by some teachers and loved seeing the looks on the kids’ faces as they walked in. Several couldn’t believe we actually made it all night. The kids got a kick out of it," Herrell said.
Overall, Herrell summed up the challenge as "such a cool experience."
"We are extremely appreciative of our Fulton supporters in the community who helped us become the champs, and we are thankful to Buffalo Wild Wings for doing their best to accommodate the overwhelming support from the community," Herrell said.