Local schools win big in Earning for Learning program and for some kids that means using the money to upgrade.
"I wish the school would get better with the money and especially the gym," says James Shrewsburg, a fifth grader at Neale Elementary School in Vienna.
Near but so far previously, one elementary school learns this is their year.
"We've been close in the running in years past but have never really surpassed that goal," says Neale Elementary principal Mike Fling. "(We're) very excited to have this honor to be honored by our business partner with the Grand Central Mall and the students have already volunteered wonderful plans for the money here at the school."
At Grand Central Mall officials are serious about today's youth.
"This is actually our eighth year for Earning for Learning; it's a program we feel very passionately about," says Katrina Stephens, marketing director for the mall. "It allows us to give back to our communities through one of the things we feel is most important, which is education."
The money is a welcome surprise.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us," says Rita Angel, principal of St. Mary's Catholic School in Marietta. "Fundraising is an important part of our school budget so it's money that we can certainly use and we very much appreciate Grand Central Mall sponsoring this."
On even ground... private schools joined by public schools for new recognition.
"The way that this program works is really on a point per student ratio, so what we've seen over the past eight years is that sometimes the smaller schools really have been able to pull together to more greatly benefit them," Stephens says. "So one of the things we though might be a great idea this year was actually to provide a first place prize for a public school as well as a first place prize for a private school."