Mr. KIS 2011

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Tue., Apr. 5, 2011
 A contestant throws a frisbee into the audience during the swimsuit competition. Photos by Denise Coffey.
A contestant throws a frisbee into the audience during the swimsuit competition. Photos by Denise Coffey.

The fourth annual Mr. KIS pageant drew a crowd that packed the Killingly Intermediate School auditorium on April 1. Twenty-five eighth grade boys competed for the coveted title of Mr. KIS

in a two-hour long event that included dance, talent, swim and formal attire competitions.

Christine Johnson, the assistant principal at KIS, started the pageant four years ago to do something different. “I’m the disciplinarian,” she said. “I work with kids that might have some trouble. This gives me a chance to work with some kids that I wouldn’t get to know very well.”

Pageant entry rules are simple: students must have good grades and they must behave well in school. Over the course of several weeks, the boys practice performing a group dance and they hone their own talent show material. There is a formal attire and a partner dance section in the pageant, so girls participate as well. The same rules apply for the ladies: they must have good grades and behave well in school.

“The boys rise to the occasion,” Johnson said. “If there is a kid who might be iffy, I have teachers who step up and say, ‘I’ll mentor him. I’ll work with him during skill block. I’ll be with him in the morning and I’ll be with him in the afternoon. I’ll check in and make sure his behavior is good, because I want him to participate.’ I’ve had five or six teachers step in to help out. It’s school wide. The teachers all pitch in different ways.”

Twelve students signed up for the first pageant. It has grown every year since. So has its reputation.

Principal Steve Rioux was one of six judges the boys had to impress. “It’s not an exact science,” he said about the judging. Physical therapist Donna Duffy, Killingly Town Councilor John Hallbergh, retired principal Sheryl Kempain, board of education member Richard Murray and state trooper Bill Kuckel were also on the panel.

Johnson and her counterpart, Assistant Principal Steve Tagen, emceed the evening. In keeping with the nature of the show, Johnson wore a royal blue floor length gown and Tagen's tie and vest matched her dress.

The boys opened the evening show with a group dance performed to the song: I will survive. They ran down the side aisles onto the stage in tie died t-shirts, black wigs and crazy glasses. Out of mayhem, a choreographed performance materialized on stage.

Johnson introduced each contestant during the bathing suit competition. All the boys wore knee length or longer trunks and t-shirts. Most of them carried props.

The audience was treated to five skits and a video. Johnson warned the audience not to expect too much in the way of talent. “There is none,” she said. Nonetheless, the boys’ performances brought howls of laughter from the audience.

Two boys recreated John Travolta's and Olivia Newton-John's performance of “You’re the one that I want." Six boys turned into superheros on stage and fought Tagen who was dressed as a villain. Six others dressed as Sesame Street characters. Five students pretended to be ballet dancers. Five students put on a clever percussion show, and one filmed himself at a skateboard park.

During intermission, students from the National Junior Honor Society sold snacks, flowers and videos. All money raised from the sales went to Cougar Café. Rioux said the money is used to pay for field trips and the start up costs for the pageant. “The money is given back to the students in need,” he said

After intermission, the boys dressed in formal attire and danced with their partners, eighth grade girls dressed beautifully for the occasion. A handful of teachers joined them on stage for the final dance.

It was Johnson’s last year running the pageant. “I’m retiring from the pageant,” she said. “I’m hoping it will live on. It’s been my joy, but someone else can take it now.”

Johnson said she wanted to teach the boys something about chivalry and dancing with a partner and working with a group. At the end of the evening, two boys presented her with a bouquet of flowers from all the contestants. “We love you,” one said.

Apparently her lessons hit the mark.

Winners for the following categories are:

Mr. KIS: Colby Breault

Best Dancer: Chicago Rogers

Best Bathing Suit: Tie between Carter Cooke and Travis Berry

Most Talented: Schuyler Scott

Best Group Performance: Percussion Group of Travis Berry, Owen Guillot, Joey Espeleta, Matthew Lawton, Cole Ricci.

Best Costume: Danny Selbe

Funniest: Tie between Owen Guillot and Michael Berkery

Evening Attire: Tie between Andrey Sazhin and Senad Otajagic

Best Partner: Corey Campbell


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