Vote Early…Vote Often

Published 1:29 pm Friday, August 20, 2010

AHOSKIE – They are rising up the list, but have yet to reach the top.

Voting is underway for the August round of national projects vying for grants awarded by Pepsi. On the list is an entry from Ahoskie’s Bearfield Primary School. There, led by the efforts of teacher Carol Paul, the school is seeking to earn $50,000 to build a state-of-the-art playground for pre-kindergarten students.

The Bearfield project is among the 1,227 entries for the month of August, each seeking to earn a Pepsi grant in different categories. As of Friday morning (Aug. 20), Bearfield was ranked 66th nationally. They started the month in 336th place.

“We need your vote,” said Paul. “Our children here will benefit greatly from this playground.”

Paul, joined by other Bearfield teachers as well as parents, passed out 8,000 informational flyers about the project and the voting process last weekend. The group also solicited assistance from area churches to include the information in their Sunday service bulletins.

From left, Bearfield Primary School teachers Carol Paul, Sharon Jones, Doretha Woods and Lauren Parker (holding Cameron) display posters that solicit votes for a $50,000 grant submitted by the school for a Pre-K playground.

“We are extremely appreciative of those who are assisting us in reaching our goal of being number one nationally,” Paul said. “We encourage other school systems to vote for our cause. In turn we will gladly assist them in the application process for the next round of Pepsi grants.”

To cast a vote, visit Once on the website, individuals can easily navigate to the Bearfield project by clicking on the “Education” listing at the top of the page, choosing the $50,000 category and then use the drop down box entitled “Vote For” to select “Near You.”

Votes can also be sent by text message at 273774 101432 or through a link provided at the Hertford County Public Schools website (

The voting process for this month’s entries ends Aug. 30. You may cast multiple votes every day.

If Bearfield is the national winner, construction will begin on a new Pre-K playground, featuring a special rubberized surface, a higher fence with a safety gate and water fountains on the playground so the children will not have to re-enter the building if they are thirsty. It will also feature hands-on learning activities for the children, thus becoming an extension of the classroom. Included in those educational activities are numbers and colors, the environment, recycling bins, a bird feeding station and butterfly trees. Plans include the development of activities that address childhood obesity.

The Pepsi promotion is a year-long effort by the soft drink manufacturer to awards millions of dollars to worthwhile community projects. Applications are submitted each month, but only a select few are accepted.

Paul added that Bearfield was currently in the process of seeking three additional grants to complete the reminder of Bearfield’s four playgrounds. The total cost stands at $260,000. Grants are currently being sought from Lowe’s Home Improvement, U.S. Cellular and Roanoke Electric.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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