Carson High School seniors Cristian Garcia and Elysia Teruya already have had a good deal of unexpected circumstances in more than six weeks of their senior year. Being crowned this year’s homecoming king and queen last Friday with COVID-19 on everyone’s minds, however, was a pleasant surprise, they said.
Carson’s homecoming festivities took place Friday night on campus with its student council on hand, a performance by the Blue Thunder marching band and a drive-in movie after the crowning ceremony.
Candidates for queen included Teruya, Karen Beglin, Veronica Burson, Emma Doty, Emma Hataway and Sydney Lloyd, while candidates for king were Garcia, Matteas Klatt, Walker MacKenzie, Lucas Osborne, Andrius Stankus and Chase Wixon.
Students elected the candidates and the winners.
Activities culminating to Friday’s event included a pep rally on Monday at which the Blue Thunder, student council and the cheer team performed in front of the state capitol along Carson Street for residents and visitors, giving the candidates a chance to campaign for themselves.
But for the actual crowning, the king and queen shared with the Appeal why they chose to run and what their senior year has been like adapting to their school’s hybrid model as well as what’s ahead for them.
Garcia, 17, an Advanced Placement student with a lighthearted sense of humor, admits he never actually intended to compete for king.
“It was a cool experience,” he said about Friday. “It just started as a joke at first with people. It was a joke that turned out to be a bigger joke. I got lots of votes. … My friends thought it was funny, and I answered the questions in the most ridiculous ways I could. … It was lots of fun.”
Candidates were asked to submit answers to survey questions such as what they wanted to do in the future, so Garcia took the opportunity to make up his answers. He said he wanted to “attend Punk University” when he actually hopes to attend the University of Southern California and plans for a dual major in premed and film or to minor in film “as a side hustle,” he said.
“I enjoy watching lots of films and making parodies,” he said, describing a horror film he’d once made about a chicken that murders people who eats Kentucky Fried Chicken and had presented it at the Brewery Arts Center during his freshman year.
He also joked that his favorite memory was when school was canceled because of the coronavirus, stating he was sure his fellow students would have jotted down more serious answers to the questionnaire.
“It’s just crazy how everything I’ve done has led to this exact moment,” he said. “Everything is like a movie.”
In the end, he said he was grateful to be crowned king, confident that he would have gained “the Hispanic vote” though expecting that “Hispanic people don’t really participate” in these contests.
“I hope people look out for me when I run for president,” he said. “That’s the next goal. I’m pretty sure if I can run for homecoming, it should be easy to run for president.”
Teruya, 17, a senior and this year’s student body secretary, says for a different type of year with COVID-19, just having homecoming itself was its own reward.
“It was really fun being part of the homecoming process, especially because I knew things were going to be different because of COVID,” she said. “Even if I didn’t win, I was just happy our school was able to put on activities, whether it was tie-die or movie night, I was happy.”
Teruya said while there have been some rules and regulations about social distancing,
her teachers have worked hard to carry on in classes as usual.
“I’m really grateful for the administration and my teachers to make it as normal as possible,” she said. “The face masks have been a really big thing. Other than that, it’s a bit harder to see a lot of my friends because of the hybrid learning and the cohorts and not seeing people.”
Her classmates have remained excited about the school year in general, with her seniors particularly anticipating college and the steps to complete the admissions process.
“A lot of my friends are still looking at colleges,” she said. “Even though there will be COVID, a lot of them are looking all over the country and they’re looking forward to going out of state.”
Teruya herself, who comes from Hawaii with much of her extended family living in Oahu, said she plans to attend the University of Hawaii to major in biology and become a physician assistant, adding she really loves it there.
She said she was pleased to be crowned queen and said she didn’t expect the outcome.
“I actually wasn’t going into it with much expectation,” she said. “I was really excited when I was running, and it was super fun. I got to take photos and people came out to support me. I really appreciated it.”