Consol to award $10,000 to lucky school

October 16, 2013
Tom Scarpone, left, Fort Cherry School District athletic director, and Ben Maxin, Fort Cherry High School English teacher, are shown at the kickoff event for the Consol Energy PowerUp Challenge.

One lucky school district in Pennsylvania will receive enough money to equip a chemistry lab or fill a few shelves in the library – all with a few clicks of the computer mouse. Each school participting in Consol Energy’s PowerUp Challenge has an equal shot at $10,000, but the school that receives the most online votes will be named the winner in May.

“We hope to be first,” said Brian Uplinger, superintendent of Central Greene School District, whose high school is now in second place. “We’re not 100 percent sure what we would do with the money. It would certainly go back to the students if we were able to win.”

Nearly 50 schools in Southwestern Pennsylvania are participating in the contest, including 14 in Washington County and five in Greene County. One district in Ohio also will receive $10,000. As of now, the top-five leaderboard in Pennsylvania is dominated by three schools in Washington County (Bentworth, McGuffey and Fort Cherry) and Central Greene in Greene County, but the first-place slot is currently occupied by Indiana Area Senior High School.

Consol Energy created the contest in order to support education in areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio where the company has an “operational footprint,” and also to educate students about energy, said Laural Ziemba, Consol community relations director.

“We’re always looking for new ways to engage with these schools, to have a conversation with these students, to educate them about Consol,” Ziemba said. “We’re using PowerUp as a tool to do that.”

Consol created a web page for members of the community to vote for their school district, and the contest already garnered more than 9,000 votes. “It’s a number we’re really happy with,” Ziemba said. “The contest just started at the end of September.”

Two representatives from each participating school had the chance to attend a kickoff event at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh Wednesday. School officials were able to learn more about Consol’s program and watch a Penguins team practice.

Schools also have the chance to win smaller prizes through April, and it’s not limited to participating districts. In one ongoing contest, anyone can take a photo displaying their “Pens pride” for the Pittsburgh hockey team and post it on Instagram with the hashtag consolpowerup. The photo will be entered into an online gallery on Consol’s Facebook page, and the participant with the most votes by Nov. 16 will win a signed Marc-Andre Fleury jersey.

Social media plays a large role in Consol’s campaign, and it also helps participating schools spread the word. Uplinger said Central Greene School District is raising awareness about the contest by making announcements at each sporting event and posting updates on the district’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. He said students are enthusiastic about the contest, especially at the high school, “because more of those students are Facebook-aware and socially networked.”

To vote for a participating school district or check the standings, visit

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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