South triumphs in neck & neck contest

By Rutul Patel
Published: March 2010

With the opportunity to win up to $5000 towards Prom supplies, the senior Class Officers entered South in the Proms Across America Contest on February 22. Three weeks and 53,000 votes later, South won the Massachusetts race, earning a $1000 dollar gift certificate to, and placed 20th overall in the country for most votes. Stumps Party offers products and services specializing in event planning, decorations, and party favors.

In Massachusetts, it did not take long for the simple promotional race to turn into a fierce, head-to-head battle between South and Danvers High School. When the dust settled and the voting ended, South came out on top, grazing by with a margin of just 1600 votes, a relatively small gap, made clear by the final few days of voting.

By earning a $1000 credit towards party supplies, the senior class officers can ultimately charge less for their Prom tickets.

“[We thought] this would be a fun way to pay for the cost of Prom without having our classmates pay for it, senior class president Chen Cao said. The costs of putting together a successful Prom include the fees of the venue, photographers, decorators, caterers, and a DJ. The money to cover these expenses comes from student ticket purchases and savings from past senior class fundraising events.

South’s victory depended largely on the school’s community, including both seniors and underclassmen. The rules of the contest allowed any person to vote an unlimited number of times, only having to enter a security code and an email address.

“The thanks, Cao said, “goes out to the entire school.

Organizing the student body to vote 53,000 times, however, was no easy task. After proposing the contest idea to the senior class advisors, the next hurdle was getting the word out to the students.

The senior class officers taped notes to computers in the library asking students to vote in the contest. They also received help from the PTSO which sent the message to vote across the South community. As word spread, Cao was approached by students of all ages expressing their excitement for the contest.

“The notes next to the computer were a good idea, because you could go right onto the website and vote, freshman Olivia Siegel said.

South started out as the underdog, originally trailing by over 6000 votes. But when Cao created a Facebook group challenging students to beat Danvers, South quickly caught up, gaining as much as two to three thousand votes a day in the finals days of the competition.

Throughout the rest of the race, South was neck and neck with Danvers. Every few hours, the tables turned, keeping the contest interesting, alternating first and second places for the two schools.

To keep voting morale up, the class officers and seniors came up with methods of enticing the student body to vote, including group voting “parties, all-night voting sessions, and a promise by Cao to bleach his hair if South won. Before long, the contest was over with South carrying 53,087 votes and Danvers 51,498.

“This competition showed that if South has an opportunity to show our spirit, we will and we’ll go all out, sophomore class officer Isabelle Granahan-Field said.

The biggest surprise, however, came from monitoring the individual voters’ locations. It seemed that all corners of the world were supporting South, with votes coming in not only from Newton but from Russia, France, Canada, Australia, England, and China.

A large factor contributing to South’s victory was the tense, back-and-forth race between South and Danvers. Students often lost sight of the $1000 gift certificate and voted simply to beat Danvers.

“Once it started getting close, I stopped really caring about the Prom aspect of it and just wanted to beat Danvers, senior Ben Weissman, who sometimes voted 50 times a day, said.

To appease the hundreds of students who helped the senior class win, Cao is in the process of bleaching his hair. The victory over Danvers was a unifying experience for the senior class.

“I think our grade may have a bad reputation of having very little school spirit, senior Cora Visnick said. “The South victory allowed us to come together, if just in a small way, and feel like we accomplished something as a class.

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