Hibriten High crushes 3 schools in contest

Nov. 01, 2013 @ 06:46 AM

All week, students at Hibriten High School whipped out their phones to cast votes for their school – tweeting #Hibriten, or texting the word to a designated phone number.

Flyers were passed out around the school – to students, to teachers, to school board members. Administrators allowed special voting times at lunch, and on the announcements each afternoon, there was a reminder that it was time to vote.

The prize at the end of the tunnel: a televised pep rally and “team of the week” designation from TV station WCNC in Charlotte, which hands out the award each week during high school football season.

The Panthers were up against four other schools – Anson High in Wadesboro, Nation Ford in Fort Mill, West Mecklenburg in Charlotte and North Mecklenburg in Huntersville. Every message sent on Twitter containing the "hashtag" of #Hibriten or every text sent to a number set up by the TV station counted as a vote.  

Hibriten won and then some, with a total of 109,498 votes. The next-highest vote total was 5,079, cast by Anson High School.

At the victory pep rally on Thursday, every possible stimulus – sight and smell and roaring sound – came together to form a distinct high-school cacophony.

Chris Clark, WCNC’s sports director, paced the gym floor at a jog, shoving his microphone into the rolling sea of students for interviews. Pompoms and foam fingers and, of course, a considerable amount of "NBC Charlotte" swag surfed its way through the crowd. It being Oct. 31, there were Halloween costumes, and that just added to the wild, quirky spirit of it all.

And of course, there was the noise. It was so loud the floors and bleachers buzzed. So loud your ears felt, for long minutes afterward, like they’d been stuffed full of cotton. So loud it seemed like the speakers would burst.

Clark told the students they were the season’s last team of the week, and the noise boomed.

He referenced the school’s 7-1 record, and it peaked.

He presented the football team with a plaque “for tearing people up on Friday nights, … for, let’s face it, making people afraid to come up here to Hibriten,” and the crowd was deafening.

But it was never louder than when Clark said this: “100,000 votes, a school this size? That is incredible.”

Then, the noise was a roar.

The school had pulled together around the contest, principal David Colwell said. Teachers and administrators contributed in their ways – the lunchtime voting, for example – but it was really a chain based on students’ technological activity.

One student tweeted #Hibriten. Then a friend tweeted it. And so on. You can see it if you search #Hibriten on Twitter – strings and strings of tweets, slowly growing in pitch and intensity.

“We left it up to the kids,” Colwell said. “We asked them if it was something they wanted to do – they took it and ran with it."