Why Does Everybody Look So Familiar?
A detailed explanation of the SCHS royalty process.
By: Lucas Moore, Rachel Ritchie, Grace Walter, Luis Gamez, and Mr. Rarick
Selecting dance “royalty” is a longstanding tradition in nearly every American high school. Snow Canyon High School is no different throughout its 25 year history; dance royalties are part of the Warrior tradition. The school holds seven official dances throughout the school year (Homecoming, Sadies, Junior Prom, Preference, Morp, Senior Prom, and the Warrior Week Paint Dance) with a few other “non-official” dances referred to as “stomps” which usually occur after a football game and last under an hour.
Of the seven official dances, three have traditional royalty — homecoming king and queen, prom king and queen, and senior ball king and queen. Additionally, two other dances have a non-traditional royalty elections — sadies and preference. Ultimately, only two dances (Morp and the Paint Dance) and the stomps do no involve any type of royalty recognition.
Although this practice has become expected, many students and faculty are still in the dark of just how these royals are elected. The Nahuatl staff informally surveyed teachers and students selected at random from SCHS, some of whom asked to remain anonymous, yet all have surprisingly similar opinions regarding the royalty process.
Those surveyed agreed that there seems to be familiar faces elected as winners from year to year. This has led some to speculate why. Is there a secret illuminati group picking and choosing? Russian hackers messing with the ballots? Is the voting process biased? Or is there a simple, legitimate explanation for this trend?
The first step in finding an explanation for the seeming redundancy is to identify whether there actually is redundancy or if that perception is incorrect. The school yearbook is a running historical record of events and activities at SCHS. Listing the winners of past years’ elections will identify whether the trend of electing the same people to the different royalties from year to year is actually happening or not. The chart below identifies the year and the winners of three “royalty” elections:
Note: Senior Ball was not included in this table because yearbooks are printed before Senior Ball and therefore do not identify the winners.
Also, the table uses “Most Preferred Sophomores” as that is the only “royalty” for which sophomores are eligible and serves as an indicator of who the student body has previously voted for:
Through an examination of the prior year winners, it turns out there is about a 50/50 split between repeat winners and fresh faces. So, there does seem to be a mild trend from year to year, but there is an equivalent trend from year to year of new people being crowned.
In search of an explanation for the trend of repeat winners from year to year, the Nahuatl staff sought to interview those involved in the election process including SCHS Exec Council members, student body class council officers, and Mr. Jamie Kreyling — advisor of the Exec Council and overseer of the election process.
Janna Ostler, 2017-18 Exec member, explains the royalty selection process as transparent. The election always starts with a selection process. Exec Council and Class Council representatives “pass out ballots to each eligible voter in every classroom” — usually during first the first period classes. “The voters make their selections,” Ostler continues, “and then return the ballots to Exec to be tallied later.” Mr. Kreyling further explained that different class councils are in charge of the voting in order to avoid the appearance of bias. “I don’t let the seniors count ballots for royalty votes where they may win, we bring in the sophomores or juniors to do that.”
Skylar Reid, member of the junior class council, validated Mr. Kreyling’s statement and the overall legitimacy of the royalty elections. “We count and tally every ballot,” Reid explains. That is no small feat; according to Mr. Kreyling, “it takes those kids up to 10 or 12 hours before they’re done counting, they’re locked in the exec room, eating pizza, and counting ballots all day long.” Reid also explained that the ballot counting process is restricted by class. Those in the class being voted for may not count ballots (i.e. Junior Class President may not participate in counting the votes for Junior Prom royalty). “I count [ballots] for every dance except junior prom,” Reid explains.
Ostler explains the process continues after the initial selection of royalty by identifying the those selected. This is often performed in a fun and entertaining way and is usually filmed for a video to be shown during a school assembly. “Whoever [on Exec or Class Council] is in charge of the particular dance decides [how to tell the royalty who are selected], then interviews the royalty and presents [them] in the assembly,” explains Ostler and reiterates, “but it is always an anonymous, fair ballot.”
Since the process seems relatively straightforward, there does not seem to be any evidence for illuminati power, Russian hacker influencing, or even bias by the vote counters. Instead, a reasonable explanation seems to be apparent. Mr. Kreyling seems to believe the reasons for some repeat winners from year to year is simple: they’re the most involved students.
“When a brand new sophomore shows up to the high school and is voting for homecoming royalty — who can only be seniors,” Kreyling explains, “odds are that sophomore doesn’t know many seniors, but the sophomore does remember the senior who gave a tour during orientation, or the senior involved in the welcome assembly, or the senior making the announcements every day.”
Kreyling went on to explain that, a simple reason many Exec Council members are often elected as royalty themselves is because they are the most visible students throughout the school and often receive the benefit of receiving votes from the underclassmen who have not had the chance to get to know many seniors.
Additionally, students on Exec Council, or the other areas of student government, have typically been involved at the lower areas of student government, starting at Lava Ridge Intermediate and going all the way through high school. The visibility through advertising for elections, and the levels of participation those offices require from 7th grade through 12th grade lead to many familiar faces receiving votes for royalty.
Speaking to the idea that only a select few students receive votes each year, Rhonda Brinkerhoff, counseling secretary at SCHS, disagrees explaining that “sometimes perception takes over.” Brinkerhoff makes the argument that many students may see one or two repeat winners and then believe a the whole process is fixed, when in reality there is no conspiracy and a logical explanation resolves any concerns.
The whispers and rumors about election fixing and bias do not fall on deaf ears. “It’s frustrating that there are rumors,” vents an anonymous Exec Council member, “[especially] considering there are rules and limitations to this kind of thing and because of how much effort is put in to making this process wholesome. Overall, the voting process is a popularity match.”
This council member’s frustration is justified. After all, anybody asked to prove a negative has felt the unfairness of the nearly unwinnable situation of proving a negative. For example, a student asked to prove he did not cheat on an assignment soon realizes how hard it is to prove he didn’t do anything. The same goes for the Exec Council. They are simply following the rules and procedures outlined in the SCHS Constitution and when they hear the accusations, there isn’t much they can do to prove that they didn’t do anything wrong.
In reality, rules are in place to prevent scandals from happening. As stated in the SCHS Constitution, “A boy or girl may not be elected to a royalty of any major school function more than once in a school year.” The key here is the language of “any major school function.” This may also be the source of some of the complaints, most students connect ‘royalty’ to every dance that includes voting, but the constitution only identifies Homecoming, Junior Prom, and Senior Ball as “major school functions.” So it is possible for students to appear on Preference ballots and other ballots within the same year. The same can be said for Sadies, though several Exec Council members stated Sadie’s royalty are treated as other royalty and are therefore removed from ballots after Sadie’s.
The Exec Council has remained true to this promise, no student elected to royalty at any of the three traditional royalty dances (Homecoming, Junior Prom, Senior Ball) ever appears on an additional ballot throughout the year. Keith Schear, Assemblies Representative on Exec Council, does not recall a time where someone has been voted onto royalty more than once in a school year. Schear then explained the voting process, which basically echoed that of Reid, Ostler, and Kreyling. However, Schear did add, “I do believe, I’m not sure if this is true, but I do believe that if you gain a lot of votes but you are a “bad” student essentially, then they will pick the next person over with a lot of votes.” Schear’s point is correct. The SCHS constitution does state all royalty winners must be a student in good standing (generally understood to mean behaviorally and academically) otherwise he or she will be removed from consideration and another student will fill the vacancy.
For obvious reasons like privacy laws regarding grades and the simple decency of saving students from public shaming, the student body is not informed when students are removed for academic or behavioral purposes. Even so, Schear later concluded, “since I have been on [Exec Council], and for as long as I have watched the process, that has never been and issue. At our school the popular kids are normally good kids.”
In conclusion, although the history of royalty elections does indicate some repeat winners from year to year, there have never been multiple winners within the same year. Additionally, those students generally elected to royalty are actively involved in student life and integrate themselves among a wide array of students and groups, this increased visibility creates a higher likelihood that students who do not already have somebody in mind to vote for, will end up voting for the people they’ve heard of before.
So, while it may seem at times, that the same students get the opportunities for royalty experiences, the reality is everybody is a potential royal. Anybody can participate in school events, befriend the different groups of students, and run for class office and increase the likelihood of being named to royalty. Mr. Kreyling even noted that due to the size of our school and the number of royalty spots available, all anybody has to do is be united to nominate a friend to royalty. “If a group of kids all got together,” Kreyling explained, “it would only take 50 or so votes for a single individual to be in contention for a royalty spot.”
Simply put, there is no bias in the royalty selection process. Just a lot of highly motivated individuals being recognized for being highly motivated. The election process is transparent and pretty straightforward and anybody that wants to see a new face on the ballots next year can make that change pretty simply: Get involved.