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High school 'men' strut their stuff

Posted: September 23, 2008 6:32 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Valencia High School man pageant contestants model their beachwear during a fundraiser for the Invisible Children of Uganda held Thursday in the campus theater.

Several young men from Valencia High School took the stage Thursday for a Man Pageant that included a swimsuit and evening gown - make that formal wear - competition, strutting their stuff to raise money for a good cause.

The unique fundraiser benefitted the Invisible Children of Uganda Club, which helps raise awareness about the hardships that many children in Uganda face every day. The club puts on many fundraising events in hopes of raising money to send to these children living in desperate conditions, but Thursday's event was unique.

Club President Amelia Shelton came up with the idea of hosting a pageant, but instead of your typical pageant with girls in skimpy bikinis, Shelton picked a different set of contestants: Several attractive, crowd-pleasing men.

"We hope to make great change in the lives of these children," Shelton said. "We feel they are our fellow human beings, and without a government that even acknowledges their existence, we're all they've got."

Pageant contestants included Lachlan McKinney, Steven Schmidt, Sam Fleischer, Zach Pagter, Kyle Chebbi, and Jacob Rivas as a guest alumnus. They were judged on their beachwear, formal wear, ICU-wear, talent act, and two interviews by science teacher Sue Peterson, English teacher Eve Itaya, choral director Christine Enns and administrative assistant Barbara Schiern.

Each of the manly men were very excited for the competition. They had been preparing since they received that first invitation to be a part of the event, and each one had something special in mind to help win the hearts of the audience and the judges.

"For my talent, I'll be singing ‘Kung Fu Fighting' as a slow ballad, and as I sing, I'll play the chords on the piano," said Pagter, a senior.

Other talent acts included Chebbi doing a tumbling routine, Rivas solving a Rubics Cube, and McKinney and Schmidt dancing around in leotards, tights and pink tutus. Each contestant put on quite a show, and the audience went crazy.

Aside from all of the manliness that went on during the show, ICU included clips of different promotional ICU movies in between each portion of the competition. Their goal was to not only raise money to send to Uganda but to raise awareness as well.

Several booths were set up during intermission, and audience members could buy T-shirts, bags, bracelets, and raffle tickets, with all proceeds to be sent to the children in need to assist them in the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army, a guerrilla army rebelling against the Ugandan government.

The judges and audience members laughed and swooned over every contestant, but in the end, only one could win. In third place, the judges chose Chebbi; second place went to Schmidt; and first place and the title of "Mr. Man 2008" went to McKinney.

"My favorite part was definitely the talent portion with Lachlan and Steven," said senior Christina DeRobertis. "There was so much manliness!"

Overall, the show was a great success. It was both informative and fun, and it helped raise awareness of the hardships and tragedies going on in Uganda. In the past, ICU has collected change, received donations, sold bread, and hosted other fundraising activities to raise awareness and help the cause, but Thursday's fundraiser was definitely a crowd-pleaser.

"We're all popular men," said junior contestant Fleischer. "What's not to love?"

Lauren Weiss is a senior at Valencia High School and the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Viking Vision.


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