The 23rd annual Mr. Watauga High School all-male beauty pageant is this Saturday.
Students created the pageant more than two decades ago to raise money for Mr. Lan O’Loughlin, a science teacher at the school, who was diagnosed with cancer. The event became an annual tradition.
English teacher Donna Wellborn attended the first pageant and has been to nearly all of them since. She says she knew O’Loughlin personally.
“He was just a great teacher. He was a great person, swim coach. He was very connected to the kids,” she said. “And I just think this is the best possible way to honor somebody's memory, who tried to help others. And that was very important to him. And I think it encourages our kids and community that we can help each other.”
The pageant involves costumes, interviews, and a display of talent which Wellborn says is "something to behold." She says some students choose to be silly on stage, while others go the more serious route.
“Some actually have a really good talent. Like one year, there was a group of kids that did a Bon Jovi song, and it was phenomenal,” Wellborn said. “I mean, it rocked the whole house.”
Those who attend can participate in a raffle and win baskets of donated gifts from local businesses. This year, all of the proceeds from the event will go to three people from the community in need of financial support.
“I just think it's a wonderful event. I think it just shows that, as humans, we can choose,” Wellborn said. “And I've tried to stress this to my students, we can choose to turn something bad into something good.”
Last year, students raised more than $20,000. Tickets for the event can be found on the Watauga High School website.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.