By Kyler Helvey and Jackson White
On Saturday, Feb. 14 McNick hosted the 69th annual Mardi Gras to cap off of the week of celebration throughout the school. Although notably different due to COVID-19, the pageant was still held and the King and Queen were crowned. Senior Ayden Bailey was crowned as King with fellow senior Aimee Gauger crowned Queen of the pageant.
Q: Describe what you were feeling in the moment when they announced your name for Mardi Gras King/Queen. What was going through your mind?
Gauger: “When I was first announced as Mardi Gras Queen I was just shocked; it really didn’t register until I saw everyone turn to me and start clapping. When I finally realized what was happening, I was filled with joy and still pretty shocked. After it clicked in my mind that I was Queen, I was worried that I would trip, so I kept telling myself, ‘don’t trip.’ I’m not sure the shock has gone away yet, but mainly I am so happy to be chosen for this honor.”
Bailey: “When they announced my name for Mardi Gras King, it was incredibly surreal, and still is now. I was in the middle of a group with all of my friends, and everyone got really excited when they said my name. It was truly [a] special moment for me not just because they told me I was the king, but also because it was so awesome to have all my super supportive friends with me, who were probably more excited than I was.”
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement at McNick if being named King/Queen of Mardi Gras isn’t the biggest? What are you most proud of?
Gauger: “I think that being crowned Mardi Gras Queen is the biggest achievement and honor that I have received while at McNick, and I am so proud of that. Just knowing what Mardi Gras means to the school, and how I was chosen, it means a lot to me.”
Bailey: “My biggest achievement at McNick outside of being named King is when my teammates and I made it to regionals for Cross Country both this year and last year. Not only did we make it to regionals, we also placed 2nd at districts, which is something McNick hasn’t done in a long time. The Cross Country team has some amazing people on it, and it was truly great to see all of our hard work over the summer pay off when it came to the end of the season.”
Q: Now that you’ve been announced as King/Queen, do you see yourself as an example for underclassmen?
Gauger: “Honestly, I’m not sure. I have always tried to be the best version of myself. I think back to when I was an underclassman and try to be what I needed when I was in their situation.”
Bailey: “Now that I’ve been announced as King, I could definitely see myself as an example for underclassmen. When I was a freshman, I always looked up to the seniors, and saw all of the accomplishments they had and how proud they seemed of them. I just hope that the freshmen look up to my class in the same way and see just how much you can do in four years.”
Q: What do you think of your Mardi Gras counterpart? Were you surprised to see them earn this Honor?
Gauger: “I think that Ayden is extremely deserving of this honor. I was not really surprised that he was King. Although, I haven’t had many conversations with Ayden, I have heard from others that he is an amazing and worthy person. From the few classes and conversations I have had with Ayden, I know that he is inclusive and brings laughter wherever he goes. He displays the same qualities anyone would look for in a Mardi Gras King.”
Bailey: “I wasn’t too surprised when I heard Aimee’s name read as Queen of this year’s Mardi Gras. She’s done so much for this school in the last four years, and she definitely deserved this great recognition.”
Q: If you find yourself looking back on your time at McNick, say, ten years from now, what do you think you’ll remember the most?
Gauger: “I think I will remember the amazing community that we have. I will remember the family of people that I have come to know and work with; The great people who have always supported me.”
Bailey: “When I look back on my time at McNick, I think the thing I’ll remember the most is all of the memories I have with these amazing people. Whether it be the classic traditions from freshmen year, or the new ones made this year. I’ll always remember the time I spent with my friends and all of the fun times we had.”
Q: Freshman year did you think of yourself in this position or did it come later in your sophomore or junior year?
Gauger: “Honestly, I never thought I would win Mardi Gras Queen. When I was on the Honor Guard my sophomore year, I thought it would be cool to be Queen my senior year, but I never imagined that this would happen.”
Bailey: “I never truly expected to achieve this honor, but when I was on honor guard sophomore year, I saw the king ascend the stairs, heard all of his fantastic achievements, and decided right then and there I should try my hardest to be just like him; an example for all underclassmen just as he was to me.”
Q: How did your friends and family react to you being named Queen?
Gauger: “My friends on court were the first to find out, and they were so happy and proud, they all hugged and congratulated me. [Additionally] my parents were excited and proud of me and according to my friends on court, their reaction when they realized I was Queen was adorable. My friends that weren’t at Mardi Gras texted me right after it was announced and congratulated me, they so were proud.”
Bailey: “My friends were incredibly excited when they announced me as King, and my parents were certainly excited as well. My brother, Myles, was the king in 2019, so my parents probably weren’t as excited this time around, but they were still incredibly proud of me.”
Q: What are your plans for college at this point in time? Do you know what you want to study?
Gauger: “I am planning on [majoring in] Nursing, but I am undecided [as to] where.”
Bailey: “While I haven’t committed fully yet, I am most likely headed towards Miami [University,] and am looking to major in Political Science so that way I can get into law school later on in life.”