A group of 12 dynamic and poised young gentlemen will be vying to represent San Bernardino High School (SBHS) during the 16th annual Mr. Cardinal Pageant on Apr. 13 at the Sturges Center for the Fine Arts. Under the direction of SBHS Bilingual Outreach Worker and pageant founder Jamie Rios, the group has logged over 200 hours of community service that includes visiting the children’s Subacute Center at Community Hospital, reading to Riley Elementary students, and packing hygiene kits for the homeless.
Rios launched Mr. Cardinal as a way to empower participants to develop interpersonal skills and a strong sense of community. Although technically a pageant, Mr. Cardinal’s focus is on academics, social skills, and community service, as well as keeping commitments and learning good time-management skills.
“The contestants perform hours of community service long before they even get on stage,” Rios said. “And they do it while maintaining their grades and attending weekly practice sessions. It’s a big commitment, and it makes me proud of every contestant when I see them come through.”
The crowned Cardinal is required to participate in two activities a month, a commitment that Javier Tovar, who is currently enrolled in 4 AP classes and involved in seven clubs, is confident he can manage.
“I will prioritize what’s most impactful, and I’m confident I’ll be able to make a huge positive impact on my community,” he said.
According to the group of juniors, San Bernardino High School suffers cycles of ill repute among the community, characterized as being “ghetto and thug-like.” As the ambassador of the school, Mr. Cardinal’s role will include changing the public perception, while effecting positive change in the community.
“We’re not represented correctly,” said Xavier Palacios. “This program has opened my eyes to see what’s really going on in the community and what needs to be changed, Mr. Cardinal will be a platform for change.”
Rafael Roldan would like to see the Cardinal program expanded to other schools to increase participation in the effort to uplift and unite the community.
“Many of us we live in poverty, and seeing the community the way it is drives us more to change it,” Roldan explained. “I’d like to see Mr. Cardinal expanded because not just one person can change San Bernardino.”
In addition to the public speaking skills acquired and the boost in self-confidence through this program, a sense of fraternity has developed among the group.
“I never thought some of them would even do community service events,” remarked Eric Morals, who, like the other contestants, has forged strong friendships through the experience. “This is a great group of people.”
The 2019-2020 Mr. Cardinal contestants are: Javier Tovar, Marcell Gibson, Eric Morals, Andy Decena, Billy Rice, Ulysses Villalobos, Rafael Roldan, Daniel Macias, Daniel Gaeta, Xavier Palacios, Randy Galvan, and Julian Perez. To purchase tickets to the April 13 event, contact any Mr. Cardinal contestant or pageant coordinator Jamie Rios at firstname.lastname@example.org or (909) 881-8217. The red carpet event starts at 5 p.m. and the pageant begins at 6 p.m. at Sturges Center for the Fine Arts, 780 North E Street in San Bernardino.