Photos taken by Madelyn Marthouse
Students rushed to the cafeteria on Monday September 20th to get one of the limited 180 Mr. Bobcat tickets. All with hopes to watch nine senior boys compete for the Mr. Bobcat title in a pageant show.
Mr. Bobcat is a spirit week tradition that’s been carried on for 15 years and this year was the first one back since the Covid-19 pandemic. On September 23rd, Thursday night of spirit week, students gathered in the auditorium to watch the pageant competition. This year contestants were judged based on outfits, answers to questions, talents and physical challenges like limbo and pushups. The seniors who judged the show were Caitrin Ferris, Nathan Mendoza, Leo Li, Lizzy RK, and Madeline Merrill. This year’s show was a little different in that a limited number of students were able to come and watch. This was due to the spacing of spots, following Covid safety protocols. Luckily most seniors were able to get together and watch their last Mr. Bobcat show while raising $900 for their senior class.
Students, especially seniors, were very excited to have Mr. Bobcat this year because last year it wasn’t able to happen due to Covid-19. The contestants for this year’s show were: Matteo Caruccio, Zach Serrano, Keegan Horne, Bryce Harmon, Jack Poitras, Jack Caldicott, Jayson Blaisdell, Sam Haskell, and Andy Carlson. There was a lot of competition within the group but Andy Carlson explained how everyone worked together and made it fun. “Honestly, all the people in it were super supportive of each other. They were hyping each other up. It’s just my senior class who’s here. I felt really good and I just gave it my all. It was great to be up there with all my friends.”
Elli Donovan (‘22), a senior and audience member, was very happy to go to Mr. Bobcat for her second year. “It was really exciting to go our senior year, because it was our class up there. Honestly it was a lot of fun… It was fun because I had been talking to them [some of the contestants] leading up to it. I kinda knew what they were gonna do for the talent show but not really. I knew how excited they were for everyone to be there and stuff.” Many audience members enjoyed Mr. Bobcat for the same reasons as Donovan: the entertainment, knowing the people on stage, and getting most of the seniors in the auditorium.
In the first part of the competition contestants were asked a series of questions such as: What does an ideal first date look like? If you could have a super power which one would it be? Who would you bring with you to a deserted island? Contestants like Andy Carlson made the audience laugh with answers like: “I’d bring Jack Caldicott, because we all know we’d both be back in three weeks tops because he can’t be away from Gianna any longer than that.”
Contestants then moved on to push ups and limbo, both exerting lots of effort. Carlson and Haskell, the last two contestants in the push up competition, were both shaking on the last “Up down Calls.” In the end Haskell beat Carlson by one push up, totaling 30 pushups with lots of body weight held between the “up and down calls.” Limbo also had a lot of close competition. Donovan said that limbo was one of her favorite parts, “I could never do that [go that low] and I think it’s just interesting and so much fun to watch other people do [limbo].”
The night was finished with singing, dancing, and art entertainment. Everyone brought their own unique act, some working with other contestants. Caruccio did a Bob Ross interpretation while painting a bobcat, Serrano and Horne did roller blading tricks, Poitras and Caldicott had a sumo wrestling competition, Blaisdell played saxophone, Haskell and Carlson sang “Hey there Delilah” and Harmon finished the night singing “Fly me to the Moon.” This was another part of the show audience members really enjoyed. Donovan says, “It’s always so interesting to see what people do [for the talent]… honestly a lot of the singing talents [impressed me], I was surprised how good they were. Like where did this come from.”
Overall every contestant put a lot into the competition and did a great job, but in the end Sam Haskell ended up winning the title of Mr. Bobcat. It was elements such as his creative outfits, funny answers to questions, doing the most pushups, and his talent that got Haskell the crown. He remarked about his victory, “ It feels great. It’s all thanks to my friends though Andy, Bryce, everyone around that’s what influenced me and got me hyped.” The other contestants agreed the show wouldn’t have been what it was unless they did it together and they expressed support and joy when Haskell took the crown.
Even though Haskell won, the judges explained that some categories were tight calls, and everyone put on a great show. Nathan Mandoza, a judge, explains the voting, “I thought voting was easy and straightforward. I thought everyone had really good entertainment and really good outfits. I liked Sam’s preparation or his on-stage charisma, and thought he did really well in everything.” Lizzy RK, another judge, had a harder time judging and picking winners. “There were certain categories that were really hard to choose. I’m a hard judger.”
Pre Mr. Bobcat there were a lot of efforts from the senior student representatives to make this a special night for seniors. Lizzy, a judge, explains why this event is so important to the seniors class. “ I think that it’s very important to me and all the other seniors especially because when we were freshmen it was such a big deal and it was always something we were excited about. Like oh, when we are seniors we are going to get to do this.” Matteo Caruccio, a contestant, agrees with RK. “In the past years I’ve always kinda looked up to Mr. Bobcat as this crazy event.”
Overall, seniors in the competition, the voting booth, and the audience seemed to have a pretty good time. Mendoza says, ”Yeah I thought everyone really got into it and the energy was really high, cause we haven’t had any events like this for a while. So it was something to bring us together again.”
In this, there was also a little disappointment about not exactly having a traditional Mr. Bobcat.
Mendoza explained, “Obviously (I’m disappointed) with the cancelation of the swimsuit competition. I get that it can be misinterpreted, but I thought it was something really funny that people saw. I know that throughout the years some people would just go in swim shorts, which is totally normal but other people made it really funny. They would be like floaties, scuba gear and I thought that was really funny. With the cancelation of that, I was kinda disappointed because it has always been kinda a tradition, and changing traditions is never something that you get used to easily.”
Carlson expressed disappointment in not having the pickup line contest.“They took out the pick-up lines and I know as a freshman everyone came up with really funny pick-up lines to say for Mr. Bobcat. That’s something that I’m going to miss but I understand why it was taken out.”
Lastly, Caruccio explained how social distancing made the experience different. “I think the audience could have been better. I mean from all our past experiences Mr. Bobcat has been this crazy thing and everybody gathered here and everyone is hyping each other up. I could sense we were spread apart and people just weren’t able to communicate directly, which is ok because we have to keep people safe, that’s important.”
These disappointments by all means did not hurt the spirit of the show and seniors showed a lot of appreciation that this was able to happen at all this year. Some rumors went around the school saying that this will be the last Mr. Bobcat. However, as Libby Davidson reported in “Spirit Week Preview,” Principal Noe said: “If the school community wants an event, students are willing to put in the work to organize it, and it is school appropriate, we try to make it happen.” Mr. Bobcat may change over the years but can still continue.
One limitation of the social distance was that not as many underclassmen were able to go. Although that is so, seniors hope that future grades can experience the same tradition. “I think it’s an important tradition at Oyster River because it brings the class together. It’s also a fundraiser so it benefits the class that runs it. Personally, as a freshman when I went to my first Mr.Bobcat it was a surreal experience. I think it’s good for underclassmen to get acclimated with the school,” said Carlson.
RK further explains, “Covid kind of ruined a lot of our traditions because a lot of freshmen and sophomores don’t know about a lot of things we usually do. All of the juniors and seniors did spirit today but a lot of the freshmen and sophomores who didn’t know it was a thing to do didn’t dress up. I don’t want it to die out cause after we graduate and the grade below us graduates people might stop doing it which would be so sad.”
Mr. Bobcat has brought Oyster River students together for years and students were grateful that even with Covid safety precautions the tradition was able to be carried on. Upperclassmen hope that in the future Mr. Bobcat’s auditorium will be filled and more people can partake in the joy of this tradition.