BY Abelino Ruiz
I have never been one to crack under peer pressure. I am a very independent person and am completely capable of making my own decisions in life. I had no intention of putting myself in the spotlight for a week. It wasn’t me who signed up, it was the people. It was not my idea to run for Homecoming King, but it was the idea of teachers, students, and Start staff that encouraged me to enter the race.
Mrs. K. Is the advisor for Start High School’s student council. When she informed me that we only had four boys running for King, I told her to just let the four boys battle it out. But we needed 5 to pair up with the five girls. So I asked her what she wanted me to do. She looked at me with a smile on her face that I vividly remember to this day and she said, “Run.” I laughed, but she was serious. There were a vast majority of people who followed suit with Mrs. K. and encouraged me to run. This sparked a chain of events that I would have otherwise not been involved in.
I thrive on competition. For me, it’s a game, and I play it well. The first round of voting was going to take place tomorrow and I had no form of advertising anywhere. Nobody knew I was running for Homecoming King, so I had to do something fast. I began brainstorming, amd developed a three-step strategy to win. Step 1: Fifteen 11×17 posters with my face and name on them placed at strategic locations throughout the school. People assumed I spent hundreds of dollars on printing, but the truth is: my grandfather owns a print shop. Then I ran into another problem. What exactly was I going to put on those posters? Instagram selfies would not suffice. I didn’t want to get to extravagant with my pictures. I wanted to keep things black and white. And that’s exactly what I did. I drove up Sylvania Avenue and looked for a brick wall to give my picture a retro vibe. After various failed attempts at capturing that perfect picture with crappy walls, I found a perfect backdrop. It was a brick wall with a battered wooden bench and a little wooden boardwalk running along the base. All the retro I was looking for in one place. I grabbed a few poses in my perfect setting and was on my way to the print shop to begin the design. Every little detail had a reason. I wanted my name in a fierce red so it would pop on the black and white picture. We printed 5 copies of three different poses and the next day, they were hung. Phase one: complete. Now all I had to was wait for top five.
The results were in after Friday, September 18th. We had to wait until Tuesday at the Royal Assembly for the results. They say patience is a virtue, but it isn’t my mine. I decided to take a gamble and bank on the fact that I made top five. That weekend, without knowing for sure if I made it, I put step two into action: covering the second floor with my flyers. Every other locker was hit with my name and face. By Tuesday morning, everybody knew who I was. I privately asked Ms. Ros, the CPO if she would escort me. She said yes of course. I told her that I planned to wear red and black to stick with my theme. Every detail had a reason. I asked if she had some red heels. Her response: “AJ I got every color heel you name!” So it was. Ros and I walked out on Tuesday with smiles from ear to ear, as I waved and made myself known once more. Top five was read and I was in.
Step three was small, but I believe it may have secured a handful of votes that I may have otherwise not had. Everyone knows there’s one thing people love more than sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Over the weekend I bought 100 single-serve bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and passed them out along with stickers on Wednesday. The stickers also turned out to be a huge hit seeing as people were putting them on their shirts, folders, and even their phone cases. Even with all this publicity and advertising, anxiety was getting the best of me. I enjoy being in the spotlight, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking to myself, “What if all this time, money, and effort is for nothing and I lose it all?” But I kept that thought where it belonged, in the back of my mind. They said I ran an aggressive campaign, but competition is a game. I just happen to play it well.
Friday night was here. I picked an outfit that reflected my previous win from my Sophomore year: green shirt, yellow tie. Foreshadowing much? During the entire first half of the game, I was so anxious. At this point, I wasn’t even nervous anymore. I just wanted to get halftime over with. At the end of second quarter, I saw the band prepping. The football players were exiting the field. The candidates were arranged in our appropriate order and we were told to walk. We began our stroll on to the track with hundreds of eyes watching our every move. Dante and his partner linked, the band began playing A Whole New World, and bios were read. Kali Urbina and I were the last couple to walk. They announced my name and the stands screamed, giving me a slight boost in confidence. We made our way to our designated spot and waited. Seconds seemed like minutes. Kali’s bio was finished and the words came out of the speakers. “Your 2015 Homecoming King is (drum roll) Abelino Ruiz!” It felt like I was dreaming. I remember letting out a sigh of relief after holding my breath during the drum roll. I hugged Kali and went to the center, where I was crowned and given my sash by Tavon. Megan Losh’s name followed. She came to the center and we hugged for the cameras. Now, instead of being overwhelmed in a negative manner, I was positively exhausted. So many pictures followed my crowning. I was surrounded by lights and cameras, getting a glimpse of what it feels like to be a celebrity.
The aftermath of royalty is still occurring. Oftentimes, when I walk the halls of Roy C., random people will say, “Hi Abelino.” I just wave and give my salutations, content with the fact that I will probably never know their names. I owe the biggest thank you to all the students and teachers who pushed me to run. If their support was not present, I would not have that green and gold crown. To this day, after seeing my aggressive campaign efforts and my want to win, people keep asking me what I would’ve done if I lost. I tell them, “I guess we’ll never know.”
Contact Abelino at firstname.lastname@example.org