Event posters around town read, “Dude looks like a lady,” and for $30 to support the SAFE Schools Fund, attendees will see familiar men, sort of.
Sort of because it’s with the addition of makeup and wigs, and likely wobbling around on high heels. In short, they’ll be in drag, albeit for a good cause.
This Saturday, the SAFE Schools Fund will host the Womanless Beauty Pageant at 6 p.m. at Elizabeth City State University’s K.E. White Center.
Emcees will be Board of Education Chair Barry Overman and Andy Montero, who coordinates SAFE with his wife Karin.
Overman and Montero will also dress as women for the pageant, which features 10 contestants, Montero said.
The contestants include notable area residents such as Chris Nobel, Northeastern High band director Wayne James, Elizabeth CIty Police officer Rick Pureza, Arts of the Albemarle board member Dean Schaan and more.
Each contestant will participate in an evening gown, interview and talent competition, according to event co-organizer Karin Montero. Montero points out that the contestants will each have, “fancy dresses and heels.”
The top three winners will each be awarded a title. Third place will be dubbed “SAFE Schools Evil Stepsister,” second place will be known as the “SAFE Schools Princess,” and the first place winner will be crowned, “SAFE Schools Queen.”
Additional titles will be Miss Congeniatlity, best legs and WOW!, according to Karin Montero.
The last three titles will be tallied by votes purchased by guests for $1 each.
Montero says the contestants have adopted stage names and have been working with choreographer Holly Wright for their opening numbers and the Parade of Beauties. They will be judged on stage presentation, walk, grace, posture, smile and working the crowd. There also be points awarded for overall appearance, gown, shoes — think size 13 pumps — and accessores. The guest judges will be College of the Albemarle president Kandi Deitemeyer, Elizabeth City Pasquotank Teacher of the Year Sharon Meads, realtor Erin Nixon and Elizabeth City Pasquotank Schools superintendent Linwood Williams.
The SAFE Schools Fund is raising money for its second project: the installation of cameras on all Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools’ buses.
“We actually had been approached by the Sheriff’s Department about taking on this project,” Montero said.
School resource officers indicated that “one of the biggest discipline issues” facing the school system is what goes on during the bus rides.
“Bus drivers are paying attention to driving,” Montero explained, so it is one student’s word against another, and “a lot of times, everybody involved is punished.”
The Monteros, who have three girls in elementary school, were inspired to help all district schools become safer after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in December 2012 that killed 26 people, including 20 schoolchildren.
SAFE kicked off in February 2013, and to date has raised close to $80,000, Montero said.
After raising approximately $56,000, SAFE purchased for each of the 12 district schools an intercom system with cameras, an additional camera at the front door, magnetically locking front doors and the phone system and software for the front desk.
Albemarle Fence Gate and Security installed the systems over a two-week period last summer, Montero said, adding that “it has been very well received.”
SAFE has raised approximately $15,000 so far toward the new endeavor, and hopes to provide the school system with $60,000, or about one-third of the project’s $172,000 total cost.
Public schools in Chesapeake, Va., use a company called AngelTrax for surveillance on the district’s approximately 450 buses, Montero told the ECPPS Board of Education during its March 15 work session.
Karin Montero and county deputies traveled to see the system firsthand, and after researching other options, decided that it would be the best company to utilize for ECPPS, as well.
Three cameras would be installed on each of the district’s 90 bus, along with a hard drive.
Andy Montero said he also plans to purchase additional hard drives for each school, so they can be switched out for viewing and video surveillance will not ever be lacking.
He said he hopes the board and the county will partner to sign the long-term financing agreement with AngelTrax, and that SAFE plans to keep raising money “to put toward the remaining balance until the cameras are paid off.”
Superintendent Linwood Williams thanked Montero, and Chair Barry Overman agreed that the project is something the board wants to take advantage of “to keep our kids safe.”
Board Member Erskine Morgan agreed that the cameras would make it obvious who was at fault for incidences.
“It silences a lot of foolishness,” Morgan said.
“This is the very definition of community service,” Board Member Glenda Griffin added, and Overman led the board in a standing ovation for the restaurateurs.
Montero said he would be “thrilled” for the pageant to raise $10,000.
Approximately half of the 300 available tickets had been sold as of Monday, he said.
Tickets are available at the door or in advance at Montero’s Restaurant, Flowers Printing, the ECPPS Central Office and Albemarle Audiology.