Hundreds of students, parents and teachers packed the Poland Regional High School gym for a special two-hour pep rally for the School Spirit Challenge on Thursday morning.

During the winter sports season, CBS 13’s “Daybreak” show has been broadcasting live at high schools all over southern and central Maine. It’s been a way for schools like Poland Regional to demonstrate what makes them special, for the students to have fun early and help collect money and items for the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The students and community from around Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot have collected around 6,000 pounds of food for those in need. Poland Regional is competing against McAuley, Portland, Deering, Portland, Messalonskee, Cheverus and South Portland for a trophy called the School Spirit Cup.

“It was awesome. Everyone is friends here. We have such great energy and it was great to all be here at the rally to support each other,” Poland student Emily Whittemore said.

The school that collects the most items, when it comes to weight, wins the championship. Schools have until March 3 to collect food. Then on Friday, March 7 during “Daybreak,” they will have an awards ceremony and announce the winning school. Just how much of an impact has the School Spirit Challenge had? During the fall edition of the School Spirit Challenge, nine high schools, including Lewiston and Edward Little, teamed up to collect 126,188 pounds of food.

Thursday morning’s pep rally was extra special because the Knight’s basketball team will be going for its first state title Friday night against Old Town at 9:05 p.m. in Bangor.

 “The community aspect is huge right now because the whole community is behind us for basketball, and so it’s kind of cool to be able to give back at some time while they are supporting us,” Poland student C.J. Martin said.

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