Tom Ballaro, the first Mr. Valley Student Body, sits on his throne flanked by Mr. Brian Gardiner and Miss Brittany Guerrerea who served as hosts for the event. Click here for complete photo album.
While the popularity of the Miss America pageant may be on the decline, the Valley may have found a competitor in the Mr. Valley Student Body pageant conducted by Valley United Way's High School Volunteer Council at Shelton High School on March 30. Students from all five Valley high schools competed for the Valley wide title and Tom Ballaro a talented singer from Shelton High emerged as the winner from a very talented (and humorous!) field of 14 competitors. Pete Lynch from Seymour High School finished second and another Shelton student, Eric Konopka finished third.
The show consisted of 14 contestants drawn from all of the Valley High Schools who are members of the Valley United Way High School Volunteer Council: Ansonia, Derby, Emmett O’Brien Technical High School, Seymour and Shelton.
The contestants included:
The Judges for the event are Bill Dunlop, Chairman of the Board at Valley United Way , Melissa Pucci, Director Valley United Way, Rita Smith, Valley United Way High School Volunteer Council, Patricia Tarasovic, Director Valley United Way – The Volunteer Center and High School Volunteer Council Program Chair and Jack Walsh, President & C.O.O. Valley United Way.
Designed as a spoof of the Miss America Pageant, the contest is divided into three main judging sections: the formal wear segment, the boxer short segment and the talent section. Contestants are required to perform their own acts and are scored on originality, appearance, and character.
A special thanks to Carmen DiCenso, owner of B&L Men’s Store in Ansonia. Carmen donated 11 of the 14 tuxedos that the boys wore. After Hours in Orange donated the other along with the girls' dresses.
The High School Advisors have worked tirelessly to get their schools ready to participate.
Bill Dempkowski, Shelton High School along with his student council members have excelled at sharing and guiding all of the other Council Schools through the process. Derby and Seymour schools were able to conduct their first ever Mr. Student body. Ansonia HS will be holding their event in May.
Originally started at Shelton High School, the Mr Student Body Contest has been successfully run for decades as a fundraiser. However only recently has the Valley United Way Volunteer Council brought the competition to the other local Valley schools.
Patricia Tarasovic, Valley United Way Director of the Volunteer Center and Program Director of the High School Volunteer Council said that “one of the major goals of the High School Volunteer Council is to provide a forum for schools to meet monthly, discuss community volunteering and share best practices. Another major goal is to work together on one major project and Mr. Valley was chosen this year.”
The High School Volunteer Council is celebrating its Eleventh Year and serves as a model program for others across the country. The Council has been invited to present at the Governor’s Youth Conference for many years.
Adopted as the Valley Council's main fundraiser for the year, the proceeds of this year's Mr. Valley Student Body Contest will be used to help support the medical expenses of two Valley students, Sydney Bartone a six year old Derby Student and Matt Voloski who graduated from Seymour High School two years ago.
Jack Walsh, President and C.O.O. of Valley United Way praised the work of the High School Volunteer Council and noted that it is great example of the Valley's high school students working together and sharing the tremendous spirit and enthusiasm found in each of their individual schools for the benefit of the community. He said, "We have a long standing commitment to assisting high school students through the High School Volunteer Council and our Youth Leadership Program to give back to the community, and this event is just another example of how well they respond when given the opportunity to be community leaders."