Mr. HB: a tradition in need of a makeover?


Michael Vollmer

Contestants Nick Vertullo ’17, Drew Gillis ’17, and Jack Byrne ’17 engage each other during the guest questionnaire.

Ava Occhialini, A&E Editor

Mr. HBHS has always been a hallmark event of tongue-in-cheek pageantry for the students at Hollis Brookline High School. Known as an evening of laughs during which students vy for the envied title and cash prizes, the event is a long time tradition. This year, from among the nominated young men, Cooper Murray ‘20, Rob Bardani ‘19, Joey Dias ‘19, Ian Mauch ‘18, Patrick Grimes ‘18, Chris Cadman ‘18, Logan Fendt ‘17, Drew Gillis ‘17, Jack Byrne ‘17 and Nick Vertullo ‘17 were voted in as class representatives by the student body for the annual competition. Each contestant was accompanied by a date during the ceremony. Hosted by Paige Gionet ‘17 and Dylan Silcox ‘17, the night kicked off with a full house, with late-comers being relegated to standing room only.

The pageant consisted of a fashion show, interviews, a couples questionnaire, in which the dates and contestants are quizzed on how well they know each other, a choreographed dance, a lip-sync competition, and a talent show. Talents included everything from a “Staying Alive” disco dance, a peanut butter and jelly tutorial, poetry, stand-up comedy, a hot-pepper eating contest, singing, and magic. Vertullo was crowned with the title, and walked away with the 100 dollar cash prize. Securing the second place position, Grimes received 50 dollars.

This year, tensions flared at certain points in the night when some talent routines deviated from the approved scripts. Student Council and Principal Richard Barnes had to request that two students leave the stage prior to the end of their allotted time due to safety concerns or inappropriate content.

Speaking to the circumstances, an anonymous judge characterized the proceedings as  “Little rough, a little rough. In order to go forward I think maybe things have to be screened a little more… I think, moving forward, the junior class is going to have an uphill battle (keeping) it. That could be incorrect, I don’t know, but I could assume that administration would be like, what’s the point, it’s just gone downhill over the years. That’s not to say other years haven’t had blips, (because) they have.”

Despite being a time-honored tradition, many people are wondering whether or not Mr. HBHS will continue to be a tradition at the school after the pageant’s disruptions. Overall, student opinion of the night was lower than average, but the student body as a whole would like to see the event continue.

“It was great in the beginning but died down towards the end,” said an attendee of this year’s pageant, “Some of the acts were a little inappropriate, and some of the acts went a little too long, so the audience was disinterested by the end. I would love to see them but I don’t think it’s going to continue, based on the acts in the previous years and this year.”

Barnes would like to see the show continue in some form, but stated he could no longer support the mock-pageant format for the fundraiser after years of continuous “pushing the envelope.”

“I think it belongs in a bigger context,” said Barnes, when asked about the issues surrounding the future of the event. “It’s not about that night in particular. (While) there were some things that were concerning, it’s really a bigger issue of the concerns about what Mr. HB has become, and it’s been over a number of years. So what I saw that night wasn’t necessarily… It was different, but not necessarily that much different. The show overall needs a change, it needs an update, let’s put it that way…We’ve had a concept over a number of years, and I think it’s no longer working, in my opinion.”

Having discussed the future of Mr. HB with student council, Barnes stated he wasn’t willing to continue with the event unless it were to undergo a major re-vamp. He did say he is open to helping with event brainstorming, though he does not want to infringe on Student Council’s ability to make decisions about the event’s future. One potential outcome for the future of Mr. HB could have the event transformed into something resembling HB Idol, utilizing a talent/variety show format with an auditions process.

Despite some turbulence, Mr. HBHS was a successful fundraiser for the class of 2017. The class raised over $4,000 for expenses such as prom, graduation, and other senior festivities.