After a COVID-19 cancelation last year, the annual Mr. Washington Township competition will take place in April with a mix of virtual and live action performances.
“We are continuing it this year because the kids don’t want COVID and the pandemic to define their senior year,” said student council co-advisor Shannon Malloy. She has run the competition with co-advisor Brittany Mason since 2014.
“We are very proud of this senior class because they are not letting the pandemic define who they are,” Malloy added. “If they can’t do it the traditional way, they are going to find another way to do it.”
A dozen male seniors from Washington Township High School will compete for the crown this year. Each will be associated with a month and a color and will have their own charity to represent. In previous years, the competition was held in person and was put on stage like a true pageant. Due to the pandemic, the competition will be held virtually over WebEx.
“We are able to do it this year with the software we have,” Malloy explained. “We will have a few other things in there. We always have a slideshow transition. The master of ceremonies will be there to keep the show flowing.”
The contestants will be able to showcase their talent in the opening video and will participate in a question-and-answer portion of the competition and multiple dance numbers.
Another aspect of the competition that will look a little different is the absence of escorts for the contestants. Due to social distancing protocols, the seniors cannot be escorted as they had in previous years. But to keep up with tradition, they will pick a ‘special person’ to escort them in one of the pre-recorded videos.
“We are doing it at a social distance and the boys will be in masks,” Malloy noted. “Each boy got a Mr. Washington Township mask with their sash. We are keeping it safe for all the participants.”
Although it may look different, the competition will still have students and faculty voting for their Mr. Washington Township winner. The mathematics department at the high school has collaborated on a voting system through the school email. Faculty, students and families will vote for their favorite contestant through the new system.
The seniors will also have to impress a panel of faculty judges who will watch the performance videos and choose their winner.
“It is not 100 percent a popularity vote, but it will be part popularity vote and part of it will be a judging component,” Malloy said. “The panel of judges will watch parts of the show and they will select and rank them and it will go into the formula.”
One aspect of this year’s competition is the anticipation of a live crowning event at the end of the video performances. According to Malloy, after the last video, the screen will switch to a live WebEx meeting showing all 12 contestants. The high school will then send 12 teachers out to deliver a corsage box to each contestant. The winner of the competition will receive a white corsage and his charity will receive a monetary donation from the student council.
The top three winners will also receive a scholarship in the spring.
“[Last year], we gave the boys options about what they wanted to do, but if they couldn’t have it live, they didn’t want it,” Malloy said. “The class of 2021 did not want to be defined by being able to have a live show or not.”
To watch the event, guests can buy a screening pass for $10 at www.wthsnj.booktix.com. Tickets will go on sale on March 1 and the competition will be streamed on April 15 at 6:30 p.m.