Mr. MH Seniors Bop to the Top

On November 22, 2022, the Hills Senior class hosted its 20th annual Mr. Morris Hills Pageant. Eleven seniors danced, sang, and acted for the coveted title of Mr. Morris Hills. Fittingly, the theme of the competition was “High School Musical” which prompted several dance numbers to mixes of the movie’s songs, including  “I Want it All,” ”Bet on It,” “The Boys are Back,” and ironically, “I Don’t Dance.” All group dances were choreographed by Ava Moreno, Natalie Welsh, and Toni Cannizzaro.

Preparing for the competition took much effort from the advisers Ms. Yaeger, Mrs. Schwartz, and Mrs. Skutnik, and especially the boys who participated. Chosen by their senior peers, Jomar Banguero, Erik Cruz, Rahul Nair, Matt Leslie, Matt Laux, Joe Laux, Nick Stella, Jay Malatesta, LJ Abboud, Justin Clawson, and Drew Piombino took to the stage. Piombino was awarded the title “Mr. Congeniality” for being one of the best team players and the easiest to work with at their after-school practices.

Beyond dance numbers, the night began with a fashion show and Q&A, followed by hilarious impressions of Morris Hills staff members. Each competitor also showed their talents, if that’s what you could call them! There was good (and not-so-good) singing to show tunes and, most notably, Adele’s “Someone Like You.” There was also soccer ball juggling, drumming, and a reenactment of Jimmy Fallon’s “tight pants” dance.

According to senior class advisers, the pageant was an extremely successful fundraising event for the Senior class to raise much-needed funds to pay for end-of-the-year expenses, like prom and graduation. Students raised over $4,000 dollars, and a portion of the money was donated to the DECA club, who will transfer the donation to their current charity outlet, Covenant House. The Covenant House is a nonprofit organization that provides teen shelter to LGBTQ+, pregnant, and all young individuals facing homelessness. Mr. Morris Hills candidate Justin Clawson, with the help of his managers, brought in the most profit, earning the title of “Mr. Money.”

Hosts and senior class officers Audrey Kuo and Akshaj Mundada jokingly prodded the audience more than a few times in between acts to go to Applebee’s after the pageant to further bolster their class’s funds. Aside from raising money, the pageant also encouraged guests to bring in canned food in exchange for a lowered ticket price. The cans were donated to a local food pantry in Dover. While the event is lighthearted and funny, at its heart, the Mr. Morris Hills pageant brings goodwill to not only the upperclassmen but the high school’s local communities.

Mr. Morris Hills was once solely a can shake— students would compete to raise the most money, and whoever did would be awarded the title. However, past class officers asked for a proper competition, which stuck. 

This year, it was a great honor to crown Nicolas Stella as Mr. Morris Hills. He brought great energy and enthusiasm to the competition, making him one of the top competitors. When asked about his new title, Nick stated, “When I first got voted to be in the pageant, I never thought in a million years I would win. I just wanted to be in it for fun.” Nick shared that without the support and help of his managers, Liz Jones and Christina Coviello, it would not have been possible. 

Stella continued, “Winning to me felt so self-assuring. Before the pageant, I joked that if I won, I would dedicate my win to any queer person at Morris Hills who felt left out or out of place, but now I want to be serious about it. I hope people see that queer people are not just some weird outcasts, we are a part of the Morris Hills family, and we are people too.” 

Competitions like Mr. Morris Hills are more than just a popularity contest. They are a chance to build community and keep an amusing tradition alive for hopefully many more years to come. 

We congratulate all winners and thank everyone involved for a “Night to Remember.”