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Brookside Cheers $10K Grand Prize

School spirit was on display at Brookside Elementary School on Monday afternoon as its PTO accepted the first place $10,000 prize for winning the Better Schools Bonanza contest.

"Guess who won?" Principal David Hay shouted.

"Brookside!" cheered the entire school, the voices loud enough to echo off the gym wall.

Carll Tucker, publisher of Main Street Connect, and President John Falcone presented the big check to Hay and the Brookside PTO during an assembly.

"You are the most important people in the town, because you are the future," Tucker told the students. MSC, which is headquartered in Norwalk and publishes The Daily Norwalk and community news sites in nine surrounding towns, plans to expand across the country, Tucker said.

"Norwalk was a right place to start the company," he said. "You have great community spirit."

From Oct. 15 to Nov. 15, MSC sponsored the Better Schools Bonanza, a promotion with cash prizes for elementary school PTOs. Schools competed by having new users register on MSC websites. More than 20 schools won $500 Thank-You prizes for registering at least 100 users. Second-place finisher Jefferson Science Magnet School in Norwalk won $5,000.

Susan Beniston, the PTO's treasurer, and preschool parent Ximena Diaz were recognized as the driving forces behind Brookside's victory. They attributed the win to the school's ability to reach out to its Hispanic parents by translating MSC's flier explaining the contest and by speaking to parents individually.

Mayor Richard Moccia and state Sen. Bob Duff congratulated the school on its achievement. "Think of this as an early Christmas gift," Moccia said. Duff, who was recently re-elected to the General Assembly, reminded students that they won because "every vote counts."

"It was a close contest," Hay said. "There was a lot of back and forth on the last day." In recognition of the spirited competition, Hay led his school in a round of applause for Jefferson.

Audra Good, Brookside's PTO president, said the organization hasn't yet decided what to do with the money. School staff and PTO members will be asked to submit ideas and a decision will be made at the end of January.

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