As the lights went down in the CRHS auditorium on Friday, March 13, the crowd went silent in anticipation of what was to come. As the projector’s screen was lowered, it displayed a live feed of the nine contestants backstage getting ready for the show.

When the clock struck 6:30 p.m., the boys rushed out and started their opening dance number to a mash-up of “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon, “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor and “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. This featured Garrett D’Amato jumping over Jordan Cowles, Andrew Van Steenbergen ‘falling off the stage’ and some pretty interesting ‘dance moves’. The opening number was choreographed by DECA Historian Nikki Woznyk, as well as dancers Lauren Badin and Gilia José.

After the dance number, Coginchaug’s English Department Head Dr. Nystrom, who emceed the event, took the stage and had the audience in stitches with his quick wit and comedic attitude. He even made an English joke saying, “This is why commas are necessary!” when there was a mishap with the script. He then introduced the first judge, PE teacher Mrs. Matasavage who “enjoys cake, karaoke and more cake when not on the golf course.” Next up was foods and consumer sciences teacher Ms. Bowman who plans to trademark her catch phrase, “Don’t be afraid to take whisks.” Finally, Dr. Nystrom introduced our esteemed principal, Mr. Falcone, who would love to meet Walt Disney because “he wants to meet the man responsible for the most magical place on Earth.”

The show moved on to the talent portion, starting with Michael O’Sullivan’s rendition of “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. After he finished, the judges critiqued his performance. Mr. Falcone referenced the popular TV show American Idol when he said that Michael was “a little pitchy.”

Next up was Andrew Van Steenbergen with his stand-up comedy. He had the audience cracking up with his grandma, telemarketer and especially Mr. Falcone jokes. Near the end of his talent, the projector’s screen came down again showing all of Mr. Falcone’s tweets with ‘#cogincahug’ instead of ‘#coginchaug’.

Artie Koba then serenaded the audience with his trumpet melody of the “Rocky” theme song. He was assisted by fellow seniors and trumpeters, Josh Collins and Nathaniel Weir. Surrounding him on the stage were a few of his friends ‘working out’ in order to convey the “Rocky” mood to the audience. Ms. Bowman exclaimed, “How did you know that ‘Rocky’ is my favorite movie?” after he finished.

Following Artie was Zach Taylor who attempted to do ‘all’ major sports in ‘under’ 30 seconds. After he finished racing around the stage, Mr. Falcone pointed out that he had forgotten about “baseball, one of America’s favorite and oldest pastimes.” Ms. Matasavage then suggested that he try out for the golf team, since his form was impeccable despite the fact that he used a tennis racket as a golf club.

Next up were Troy and Gabriella… I mean Jordan Cowles and Antonio Lockwood who rocked out to “Breaking Free” from the Disney Channel original movie, “High School Musical”. Both Jordan, despite not having sung since fifth grade, and Antonio really got into the whole performance. The judges were left speechless… but Mr. Falcone did revoke his previous statement of Michael’s performance being “a little pitchy.”

After that, the audience was transported back in time to the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show, as Jeremy Cannon and John McLaughlin took the stage. They danced their hearts out to Katy Perry’s song “California Gurls” as ‘Left Shark and Right Shark’. The crowd ‘ROAR’ed with laughter as they swam around the stage.

The final contestant, Garrett D’Amato, took an unusual approach to introducing his talent. He taught the crowd how to beatbox by repeatedly saying “boots and cats” really fast. Then he proceeded to wow the audience with his extensive beatboxing skills that go far beyond “boots and cats.”

After the talent portion concluded, there was a brief intermission as the boys and their escorts got ready for formal wear. During this time, members of the audience were encouraged to cast their votes through Twitter using #whowillbecrowned. Concessions were sold to raise money for the impending DECA trip to Orlando.

For the formal wear portion, each boy came out one at a time with his escort. The first contestant was Michael O’Sullivan who proceeded to ask his escort, Megan Quinley, to prom with the help of Mr. Donecker. The rest of the boys followed out one by one with their escorts.

The contestants waited patiently for Dr. Nystrom to announce the five finalists who would move on to the next round: Garrett D’Amato, Antonio Lockwood, Artie Koba, Andrew Van Steenbergen and Michael O’Sullivan. The rest of the contestants filed off the stage for the start of the Q&A section.

Dr. Nystrom called each contestant up individually and asked them one question each. The judges then scored them based on their answers. Michael was asked, “If you won one million dollars, what would you do with it and why?” Andrew was asked, “If you could trade places with any one person for a day, who would it be and why?” Artie was asked, “If you could redo any one moment in your life, what would it be and why?” Antonio was asked, “If you could invite three people to dinner, who would you invite and why?” Garrett was asked, “If you would have any superpower, what would it be and why?”

The judges then took time to score each contestant on their dance moves, talent, formal attire and answers to the Q&A portion. While they tallied the scores, Unaccompanied Minors took the stage and performed a number of songs including a “Can’t Hold Us” mash-up by Macklemore and “Ain’t it Fun” by Paramore.

After they finished their performance, all of the boys and their escorts were called back onto the stage. They lined up the five finalists at the front of the stage, and Dr. Nystrom thanked everyone for their participation. Dr. Nystrom then announced the top fifth to second places.

Dr. Nystrom then dramatically announced the winner of the 2015 Mr. Coginchaug… Andrew Van Steenbergen! The other contestants raised Andrew up onto their shoulders in excitement.

As the crowd roared with applause, last year’s Mr. Coginchaug and CRHS Alumnus Matt Fontaine joined the group of boys onstage. DECA Vice President Autumn Ianiello gave each of the finalists a small trophy and certificate. DECA President Mackenzie Rulnick and Fontaine congratulated Andrew with a crown, sash, flowers and trophy. DECA Historian Nikki Woznyk and DECA Treasurer Monica LaRosa released confetti onto the stage.

As the excitement died down, CRHS business teacher Ms. Wagemaker took the stage and thanked everybody for their support, closing the show.

After the show, DECA co-advisors Mr. Donecker and Ms. Wagemaker seemed very satisfied with the end result of the event and were grateful for all of the students and faculty who helped make it possible.

Mr. Donecker said, “Mr. Coginchaug was extremely successful. The boys put on a great show, and I’m proud of all of the efforts of the students in DECA in putting on such a large production, and I’m already looking forward to next year.”

“Mr. Coginchaug showcased the best of our school; it was 100 percent student-run, and their hard work paid off,” said Ms. Wagemaker.

Rulnick said, “Each contestant came to rehearsal every day with a smile on their face and the desire to put as much effort into their performance as they could. Their hard work matched the DECA officers’ passion resulting in a very successful show.”

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