Pageant Rakes In $4,132 for Raise Rwanda, as Alden Nichols Named 2018 Mr. TA
The 8th annual Mr. Thetford Academy Pageant—a beauty pageant/talent show spoof —featured land-kayaking to the sounds of a river, a Michael Jackson moonwalk, a wrestling match between a brother and a sister, and plenty of corny jokes, as 11 contestants and their escorts competed for the Mr. TA crown. Along the way, the packed house heard from Adelit Rukomangana, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide; witnessed the contestants field challenging, on the spot questions; and watched the talented contestants perform a series of creative acts.
Directed by Eli Kaliski ’19, co-directed by Morgan Gaffney ’20, and emceed by the always-entertaining Coach Mark Weigel, the Pageant featured contestants Krystal McKinney, Eamon Deffner, Dylan Moody-A’Ness, Lamu Ci, Gabe Gaetz, Owen Deffner, Trent Larson, Alden Nichols, William Bugg, William Bosco, and Aiden Cudhea.
Escorts comprised Jade Jamieson, Skyra Coulter, Elle Dixon, Alan Xi, Natalie Smith, Allyson Perry, Jaime Harkins, Fritz Junker-Boyce, Abigail Berard, Maeve Curtin, and Hannah Schwartz—with Zach LaPlume taking on the role of the Panther.
The house band was composed of three TA musicians: Whit Van Meter, John Luce, and Gary Engler. Bel Spelman ran lights and sound, Lily and Casey MacVeagh ushered, and Peter Isquith provided backstage assistance. As always, Kelly Welsh inspired the effort, organization, and motivation to enable the production of another successful show.
When the show resumed after intermission, two contestants were recognized: Runner-Up Aiden Cudhea, and 2018 Mr. Thetford Academy winner Alden Nichols—whose act featured cave man acrobatics and a rendition of Billy Joel’s “I Love You Just the Way You Are.”
During intermission, audience members voted with cash for their favorite contestants, and before the night was over $4,132 in ticket sales and voting proceeds came in to benefit Raise Rwanda—a non-profit program that funds high school education for young Rwandans—and pay the tuition for six needy children to attend high school next year. Over the last eight years, our community has now funded over 56 years of high school for Rwandan students.
The pageant was launched by Kelly Welsh’s world history classes in 2011, as students sought a way to make a difference after learning about the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Photos of the pageant taken by Dan Grossman may be found here.