2023 homecoming royalty crowned in pageant

Southern Utah University held its 126th annual Homecoming Royalty Pageant on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Ten students competed for the titles of homecoming royalty and attendants.

The highest title, Royal T-Bird, went to Brock Bleak, with Caleb Lameman and Shawna Acheampong being crowned as the first  and second attendants. Landon Lee was awarded the People’s Choice crown.

The SUU Auditorium was packed with enthusiastic students and family members who came to watch the display of talents and to cheer for their favorite contestants. The two announcers encouraged audience participation and made the evening fun and lighthearted with their playful banter.

The opening number was a choreographed dance to “Please Don’t Stop the Music.” Following the performance, each contestant had the opportunity to showcase their talent and SUU “Spirit Wear”. After that came the “Evening Wear” portion of the show, during which contestants answered questions posed to them by the judges. And then it was time to vote! 

Bleak’s talent was trombone playing, which he performed alongside a backup soundtrack. He even got the audience to participate with him in singing parts of the song.

According to Bleak, it’s a talent he developed in middle and high school. “I haven’t played it in years now,” he said, “but I just went for it.”

“I really fell in love with SUU,” he said in regards to his involvement in the pageant. “Anything it has to offer, I want to be a part of. I believe that SUU should adopt the school motto ‘University of Opportunities;’ there are so many ways to get involved.”

Lameman is a Navajo from Red Mesa who performed his culture’s traditional grass dance. He is the previous president of the Native American Student Association and the current Student Life Enhancement Committee director.

“I didn’t expect to get in,” Lameman said, “but I gave it my all. I felt, if I do win, it would mean so much for my home and community, representing us.” He performed in his full traditional regalia, made by his father and with beadwork done by his aunts. The headdress includes black-tipped eagle feathers, which by law can only be possessed by Native Americans.

Acheampong sang the song “Rise Up” for the audience. She was born in Ogden but was raised in Ghana. Currently, she is studying biology with the intent to obtain a medical degree and become a pediatrician.

Lee played his guitar and sang the country song “Beautiful Crazy.” He has been playing guitar since seventh grade, when he picked it up one day on a whim and decided to learn the song “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. He competed in the royalty pageant because he is an ace, and the other aces and he realized that they needed someone to represent them. 

Natalie Franson, Danielle Tebbs, Layla Ashton, Lauren Basset, Caleb Freeman and Jared Sharp also competed at the pageant.

Homecoming festivities will be continuing for the rest of this week. A full schedule of events and accompanying information can be seen at this link: https://www.suu.edu/homecoming/.

Story by: Emily Walters
Photos by: Emma Stensrud