PORTSMOUTH — “When you leave school in June, how do you want to be remembered?”
Patrick Maiato pondered how he would answer the question — but not for long. After all, this was “Mr. Portsmouth,” not “Miss America.” Being a ham is to be expected.
He did not disappoint.
“I want to have made a difference,” pronounced Patrick as he strutted his stuff on the school auditorium stage last week. “We have a slogan here at Portsmouth High School: ‘P.H.S. cares.’ I live this slogan, but it’s a little off. I would switch it to ‘P.A.T. cares.'”
The line got the biggest cheers of the evening, but it wasn’t enough to win Patrick the coveted title of Mr. Portsmouth. That went to dance master and deejay Brandon Jumaoas, who collected a king’s scepter from PHS front office queen Diana White and the new Patriots mascot, “Big Red,” at the end of the night.
And what a night it was, with a capacity crowd being treated to everything from unicycle fails to bagpipes, from rippling abs to wisecracks. Besides Brandon and Patrick, the other competitors were Sean Tullson, Gordon Rix, Drew Matthews, Michael Massed, Max Khalfayan and Josh Dvorak.
All proceeds from the annual event — admission was $5 and there were raffles for two tuxedo rentals — went to the senior class. Emcees for the evening were science teacher J.P. Arsenault and Erin Phillips from the guidance officer, and a panel of teachers and staff members served as judges. (Their identities were kept a secret until that night.)
The competition started off with the formal wear presentation, with each contestant dressed to the nines and with a girl on his arm.
The swimsuit competition featured a mishmash of fashion; Drew wore a wet suit, while Max sported a woman’s one-piece. Patrick chose to exercise while in a bathing suit, holding barbells while down on all fours.
“Is he doing the worm or pushups?” remarked Mr. Arsenault.
Things got more interesting during the talent portion of the competition. Brandon choreographed a skit where he played a nerd trying to get some girls to dance with him. They did after showing him a few moves.
Sean, who plays three different sports, started his routine alone on stage, discarding a basketball and football that had been thrown at him. Then he started singing a ballad before jumping into a dance routine over Petey Pablo’s “Freek-A-Leek.”
Patrick’s glow-in-the-dark drumming routine went over well, especially when he started throwing glow sticks into the crowd. Gordon displayed some of the world’s worst unicycling skills, falling over and over again while “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis played.
Drew warmed up with some scales on trombone before launching into a rockin’ version of “House of the Rising Sun,” which featured several members of the PHS Jazz Band. Michael and Max performed an off-key singing duet, with the former wearing a woman’s dress. Dressed in a kilt, Josh played bagpipes and got a big hand.
And then there were five
After a brief intermission, the list of candidates was whittled down to five — Brandon, Sean, Drew, Josh and Patrick — who each took questions from the emcees.
Brandon was asked what he considered to be his greatest strength. “My goal is to put a smile on everyone’s face. If someone’s happy, I’m happy. World peace,” he said.
When asked about his “everlasting memory” of PHS was — “And your answer must be appropriate,” warned Mr. Arsenault — Sean decided to pander to the judges.
“Great teachers, great principal — we got it all! It’s hard to choose one thing,” he said.
Drew was asked to name someone other than a family member who’s had the most positive impact on his development during high school. He picked Charity Shea, his advisor, and band director Ted Rausch.
“Mr. Rausch is a great guy. Trashed his house once — he took it in stride,” said Drew.
Josh was asked how PHS has prepared him for future challenges. He ducked the question by saying the “environment here has prepared me for whatever I do in the future.”
Sean and Drew ended up in a tie for runner-up, so they had to take two more questions. “How have you made PHS a better place?” Sean was asked.
“I mean, there’s so many things,” he replied. “But I’m gonna go back to freshman year when I was shooting hoops with my bro and came up with Tullson Trick Shots.”
(Sean has gathered his best basketball trick shots on a YouTube channel that’s proven to be popular with students.)
Drew was asked in what way he’s changed over the course of his high school years.
“You mean like height-wise?” Drew quipped, before going on explain how shy he was as a freshman.
“But as the years passed, through activities like band … and band … and band, I came out of my shell. That’s why I’m here.”
As part of his prize, Brandon won a tuxedo rental plus a manicure and pedicure, a yearbook supplement on DVD and more — a package valued at over $400.
Watch a video of the eight contestants in a group dance here: