The Past–and Questionable Future–of Mr. DHS

The story behind a beloved Dallastown pageant and why it’s unclear if future performances will occur.

In the first-ever Mr. DHS pageant in 2011, senior Stephen Payne was crowned by Student Council member Teri Shaffer. The first event raised money for Olivias House, a local grief counseling center.

Beacon Archives

In the first-ever Mr. DHS pageant in 2011, senior Stephen Payne was crowned by Student Council member Teri Shaffer. The first event raised money for Olivia’s House, a local grief counseling center.

Talent shows and beauty competitions usually spark a specific image in people’s heads: cute little kids, often Honey Boo Boo-esque, dressed in their fascist of clothes performing their lifelong talent to judges and the audience. 

More than 10 years ago, DHS took that image and flipped it.

Two 2011 Senior Student Council Representatives, Alex Snell and Teri Shaffer, saw the perfect opportunity to raise money for Olivia’s House, which offers grief counseling for children and teens: a beauty contest for DHS’s senior boys. 

Shaffer–now Stolakis–says that her job actually helped inspire the event’s creation. 

“While working at Renaissance Bridals, I was surrounded by pageant contestants and competitions, and I was on Student Council helping to create events, so it felt like a good merge for an entertaining night,” Stolakis says. 

She adds that the boys in the Class of 2011 were the perfect group for a pageant.

“We had an incredibly fun and comical group of guys in the class of 2011, so I knew it would bring a lot of laughter and hopefully a fun memory to end our senior year.”

Student Council saw an immediate hit with its new event, appropriately crowned Mr. DHS. 

Mr. DHS saw senior boys compete against each other in different categories, which changed year to year, but has almost always had an opening dance, a talent portion, and a fashion portion with an interview. 

In its first year, $1,200 was raised from admissions, and Senior Stephen Payne rose victorious out of seven other seniors.

From there, the event became an iconic event like Homecoming and the Powder Puff game here at DHS. However, the graduates of 2012 didn’t have a Mr. DHS competition for similar reasons Dallastown hasn’t had one since 2021. 

Few Senior boys were available to participate in 2012, especially because of spring sports, and Student Council was unsure at the time about the future of the pageant.

“I’m really unsure if Mr. DHS will continue at Dallastown. It really depends on the Senior Class (next year),” Mrs. Smeltzer–Student Council advisor in 2012–said in a March 2012 Beacon article.

But Mr. DHS lived on for many years and solidified its place at Dallastown as a staple of high school tradition.

Once COVID hit and Dallastown students were blended at-home and on-campus, Mr. DHS was pre-recorded and released in May 2021, and Matt Mikita took the crown.

Former Student Council President Michaela Long (Class of ’22) was involved in many aspects of Mr. DHS throughout her years at Dallastown and says the event was always a positive experience from her perspective.

“I had worked with Mr. DHS since my freshman year as a backup helper for the event. It was always a blast. Everyone got closer to people they typically weren’t close with and the guys became good friends with one another,” Long said.

Since 2021, however, Student Council hasn’t hosted the event.

According to the Student Council advisor Mrs. Huyett, the pageant was canceled because Senior boys weren’t participating.

“There was no Mr. DHS in 2022 or 2023 due to lack of interest from the 12th grade boys,” Huyett said. 

Long added,”When we had a lack of interest, it made me and many others sad. Not only the bonding, but he laughs and overall personalities that shone through were always so fun to see.”

Another challenge has always been the coordination of the contestants schedules, specifically if they were involved in spring sports.

“They wanted to do Mr. DHS but didn’t have the time to commit to it, sot that limited our possible participants,” Long remembered.

Current Student Council president Kayla Sebastian, who would’ve been a freshman when the last in-person Mr. DHS was held, enjoyed her experience with the event.

Sporting wigs and jean shorts, 2021 Mr. DHS contestants opse after Matt Matika was crowned the winner. This event was pre-recorded and released later on, and was the last Mr. DHS hosted. (Michaela Long)

“I definitely wish that we could’ve held Mr. DHS this year, but it just didn’t work out. I went to Mr. DHS as a freshman, and it was a lot of fun,” Sebastian says. 

As for the future of the event, as we go two years without the event and three without one in-person, Huyett says Student Council isn’t actively pursuing plans for it. Sebastian also adds that while she hopes to see Mr. DHS come back, attendance looks like it will hinder the event’s presence at Dallastown. 

“It would be nice if this event could come back in the future, but it seems like finding participants will be an issue for many years to come. [Student Council] came to a general consensus that it’s not worth wasting so much time and energy each year for an event that doesn’t end up happening,” Sebastian says. 

The future isn’t set in stone yet, however.

“There have been some talks about combining efforts across other organizations, but no decisions have been made,” Huyett says.

Although no Mr. DHS has been crowned in two years, Huyett still holds fond memories of the event. Her favorite part was seeing how well a student-led show came together.

Contestants in the 2013 Mr. DHS pageant performed their opening group number to a Backstreet Boys song. While the pageant was a popular activity for years, interest has dropped of recently. (Beacon Archives )

“I loved seeing the students have fun and create the show from beginning to end. The students write the script, plan the dances, practice their talent, and have a great time doing it,” Huyett happily recalls.

Huyett adds, “It also was amazing to see their fellow classmates come out and support them and really enjoy the show being put on.”

Mr. DHS spent 10 years in the Dallastown Hall of Fame as an event students and faculty loved. Many Senior boys arose victorious with the highly coveted crown, and although participation led to its eventual cancellation in 2022 and 2023, many still love and remember it.