One of the hardest chapters in the history of a New Jersey school closed with a euphoric coda on Thursday night when Mainland (N.J.) High was named the winner of Under Armour's "Finding Undeniable" competition, a nationwide school spirit contest which rewarded the winner with a whopping $140,000 in new uniforms, shoes, training gear and accessories.
In the end, Mainland emerged from the rather involved competition in front of two other schools -- Alexandria (Va.) Thomas Jefferson High and Hinesville (Ga.) Presbyterian Christian Acadmey -- earning the most votes via the contest's official website, which was linked through Facebook and a variety of social media outlets.
The $140,000 prize is the reward for an impressive and involved campaign from Mainland's student body, which received a Twitter shout-out from Olympic volleyball star Misty May-Treanor, staged a video including the mayors of all three towns that encompass the school's catchment area and also orchestrated a handful of school-wide spirit efforts.
Most significantly, Mainland's victory follows an August tragedy that captured the attention of the nation, when four of its varsity football players were lost in a highway traffic accident when traveling from a team practice to a group function.
Naturally, the competition victory can't bring back the students lost in the blink of an eye just before the football season started, but it can help provide a positive after the heartbreak suffered in August.