2017 Mr. RHS

This year, girls will be honored equally with boys at Reedsport Community Charter School for their leadership roles in the RHS Pageant. Shown in last year's event, which was the Mr. RHS are girl assistant leaders, along with the boys plus community adult helpers, including Laura Brandon, Chris Marsh and Tamara Szalewski.

REEDSPORT — In a radical shift for the charter school, the long standing name of a contest has changed from Mr. RHS to RHS Pageant, giving girls an equal shot.

Laura Brandon and Chris Marsh discussed the need for a transition this past summer.

Among a variety of her roles in the community, Brandon helps organize the RHS Pageant.

Mr. RHS has provided boys a chance to give back to the community's groups. Now that will open up to girls at the school too.

Great Afternoons, with which Program Director Marsh is involved, is an Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA) program.

Marsh had spoken about changing the name with Reedsport Community Charter School Principal Vince Swagerty, Brandon said, and "then we decided to be proactive and offer it to the girls but no girls were interested."

"This is the fourth fundraiser for the money going toward the Great Afternoons/Great Beginnings," she said.

Marsh spoke of the playground fundraising project.

"We have estimated the total cost of the project to be around $16,000 after speaking to several businesses that provide surfacing and a couple of contractors — looking at solving a drainage problem and prep work to the site," Marsh wrote in an email. "We hope to get the playground completed by June 2018. It will greatly depend on our getting a contractor to do the work. We have not been successful in getting anyone to commit."

Brandon said organizers hope to involve previous Mr. RHS contestants and past coordinators to the upcoming events.

The rationale for the change was because of North Bend High School's decision to alter the long-standing name from Mr. Bulldog, offering girls an equal footing with the boys.

Brandon praised RCCS girls' efforts, saying they give "110 percent" each year and that they should be recognized just like the boys are.

Marsh agreed.

"As for the young women who have volunteered in the years that I have been involved- I can't say enough about how impressed I have been with their dedication, hard work ethic and their overall performance in this pageant," the program director wrote. "It is a six-month commitment on their part. The pageant offers the girls a chance to plan and execute a fundraising program and help the infants and toddlers in our community. All of the girls and the boys work hard and give generously of their time. It is really a great introduction to giving back to your community and each of the students involved have been fantastic."

"I am open to the interpretation of the pageant as an extra-curricular school activity, and as such it should be offered to boys and girls. We did not have any girls sign up for the RHS Pageant this year, but we will be open to any girls who want to sign up in the future," Marsh added.

Tickets for the pageant are $5 for everyone ages 5 and older. The RHS Pageant takes place March 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific Auditorium in the charter school.

Brandon praised young women at RCCS, citing the many ways they keep involved over the years at Mr. RHS. Now of course starting this year, the new name is RHS Pageant.

"They're all behind the scenes," Brandon said. "They decorate the donation cans. They get ahold of Karen Bedard for Tip A Waiter."

Bedard is co-owner of Bedrock's in Winchester Bay and Reedsport with her husband.

Tip A Waiter consists of RHS boys who serve as waiters., which then serves as a fundraiser. A teen can be asked to do 10 pushups there at the restaurant for a tip. One year, three teens sang "Happy Birthday" to Brandon in German, then in Spanish and in English for her 40th birthday for Tip A Waiter.

The Tip A Waiter event takes place Thursday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 at Bedrock's.

Girls assist backstage at Pacific Auditorium at RCCS, as do the boys. Adding to their many ways they volunteer, the girls also organize the yearly calendars, which feature charter school boys each month. These calendars  are fundraisers for the pageant.

The young ladies pick three tunes for the pageant and in turn boys have to pick one song from that. This year, the song is "Footloose." Brandon gives final approval.

More fun is featured with the upcoming RHS Pageant, including various teams for a dodge ball tourney. This past year, the Reedsport Police Department, Highland Elementary, administrators and school board were among those featuring their wildest costumes.

"The first year I did it there was an ACDC team," Brandon said.

The dodge ball tournament takes place Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. at the charter school gym.

Farther along in the school year, the Sadie Hawkins dance takes place Feb. 17 in which charter school girls auction off teen boys.

Senior girl coordinators are: Essie Cardoso; Kaylee Stoltey; Jaedyn Mast; Ali Carter and junior girl coordinators Taylor Joy, Mariyah Lumpkin-Harp, Alyssa Neves and Jordan Priest.

On the boys' side are Clay Laskey, Tyreece Gardner, Colby Fowler, Korde Parmenter, Marc Chaney, Alan Page and Noe Lopez.

"They're all really good kids this year," Brandon said. "All good kids. I think it's going to be a fun year."

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.

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Umpqua Post Editor