Girl judging website raises ire of community
May 21, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
In the wake of the May Madness scandal that shined a national spotlight on the Issaquah High School community, some students are speaking out against the contest that rates classmates based on appearance.
The competition, which has become an annual undertaking at Issaquah, arranges girls in a sports-style bracket to determine the best-looking one in the school.
The Issaquah community is not attempting to hide or ignore May Madness, but rather, the students want the public to know that the harmful game is but a small blemish on what is an overwhelmingly giving and respectful student body.
“Issaquah High School is so much more than just what happened last week,” said Tim Baynes, the school’s Associated Student Body advisor and activities coordinator.
Issaquah is home to a student body that collected more than 25,000 items for the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank, raised $10,000 for the American Cancer Society and sponsored the construction of two water wells in Africa.
The school was also honored for its global giving with an invitation to We Day Seattle, an event that invites schools to celebrate service and inspire kids to make a lifelong commitment to serving other people.
A group of about 25 students traveled in March to Key Arena, where they listened to speakers including Martin Sheen, Magic Johnson and Pete Carroll. Issaquah students received front row seats and the school was singled out for its charity efforts.
“It was surprising, shocking and awesome,” Baynes said of the recognition. “The looks on the kids faces were absolutely amazing, and it was the coolest thing ever to be able to look at the kids and see how proud they were of their work.”
As the May Madness controversy hit its peak last week, though, some students felt that all of the positive things that the school had accomplished were being pushed to the side.
That’s why Issaquah juniors Olivia Marcus and Keegan Holden created a video to highlight Issaquah’s giving nature and provide insight into how the school’s own students feel about May Madness.
“We wanted to kind of dispel the notions that were derived from all the negative media coverage we were getting,” Holden said. “We just wanted to document the student perspective and really get their take, because I think that’s what is more important in this situation, how the students themselves feel about it.”
The main takeaway is that while May Madness is an aspect of the school, the actions of a few do not reflect the beliefs and resolve of the school’s majority.
“The Eagles are a bunch of really motivated, academically-driven students,” Marcus said. “Through that, we work really hard and try to make it fun.”
In a May 7 email to parents, Issaquah Principal Paula Phelps made it clear that the school did not condone the contest.
“There is nothing amusing about this,” she wrote. “It is degrading and demoralizing. Issaquah High School is better than this.”
Marcus said she expects her fellow classmates will rise above the May Madness drama, and come out better for it in the end.
“I hope that as a school we are confident in our own abilities enough to not give into what May Madness stands for, and to let it stay with whatever small part of the group it is, and continue on to become successful without it,” she said.