[Photos by Sandy Bressner - firstname.lastname@example.org]
[Batavia High School freshman Grant Cardelli counts money he collected for his run for Mr. BHS. The mock beauty pageant hosted by the school's Key Club, a student-led service organization that is part of Kiwanis, will raise money to help people with spastic paralysis.]
BATAVIA – Surprises have been part of a mock male beauty pageant at Batavia High School since 1989, where this year's competition for the title of Mr. BHS promises lots of fun and some serious fundraising by the Kiwanis' Key Club.
This month's student-led event is organized for the second time by club President Maggie Keating with help from her board members and the volunteer contestants who bring their creativity and generosity to the fore. The community is invited to attend at 7 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre on the school campus. The fundraising recipient is the Kiwanis Neuroscience Research Foundation, helping people with spastic paralysis. The club raised $7,500 last year and now is aiming for $10,000.
In addition to the formal wear opener during which pre-arranged questions are posed to the contestants, there will be two components that are flexibly interpreted – the swimwear contest and talent portion.
Planning for the Key Club's major fundraiser starts in the fall when members send the student body an online form to nominate boys for the pageant, seeking three from each grade. Those with the most votes are asked if they are willing to take part, said Sara Wheat, a senior who serves as secretary of Key Club. Fundraising continues from December right up to the pageant, with the boys earning added points for how much they raise in donations. The event's judges will be a panel of teachers.
"We like to begin fundraising as soon as possible," Wheat said. "The boys aren't solely raising money themselves."
Teaming up in the cause are their fundraising partners – Key Club members from the same grade level for each contender. Each of the 12 contestants and their 12 escorts carry a decorated paint can for donations to classes most days to rally support from fellow students.
In addition, some participants such as Sarah Dremel, the board's freshman representative, have started GoFundMe accounts and club members have been working on securing business sponsors.
A variety of businesses pitch in, including Men's Wearhouse assisting with tuxedos or suits for the big night and Special Occasions on the Avenue with gowns.
"These kids are fantastic," English teacher and Key Club adviser Marnie Heim said. "Key Club is wonderful because it's developing these young students as leaders. I think it's one of the most exciting things I get to do – see them evolve, especially kids who stick with the program all four years. Mr. BHS is a fun event. [The contestants] are not in Key Club, [but] they're dedicated to our cause."
One of the competitors is senior Peter Novak, returning for the third time. He recalls that his first talent performance as a freshman was to play crash cymbals to a Sousa march attired in his band uniform.