All the pressure was on Fresno's Clovis West High Principal Jeanne Hatfield and her students to take first place in the High School Principals Spanish Lip Sync Contest for the second consecutive year year.
Clovis West's dazzling array of costume changes, choreographed dance moves and 10-foot-tall stage backdrops secured the win, which was more special for Hatfield the second time around.
"This is my last one," Hatfield said. "This is my favorite thing to do. But I'm taking a job with district office in April."
Riverbank High came in second and Fresno's Sanger High took third place Saturday night at the competition's finals at Modesto Centre Plaza in front of a packed banquet hall.
Nine high schools competed in the finals, including Patterson, Waterford, Atwater, Buhach Colony and Tracy, along with Fresno's Buchanon.
Each competing school receives $1,000 in scholarship money just for competing. The winner gets $2,500, second place gets $2,000 and the third-place finisher gets $1,500.
This is the 21st year of the contest, which has raised more than $800,000 for scholarships, according to organizers.
Mike Sturtevant of the Modesto Rotary Club created the contest and organized it each year until El Concilio, Council for the Spanish Speaking in Modesto, took the reins of the contest last year.
Riverbank High Principal Ken Geisick said practicing for the competition is like a sports team getting ready for a season. The Riverbank students had rehearsed their performance since the fall.
"This is really great for the kids," Geisick said. "I'm glad I was able to help them get a trophy."
Competitors are judged in three categories -- lip-sync ability, creativity and overall performance. The students perform choreographed dance routines on stage, while the principals take the lead and lip-sync along to Spanish-language music.
Sanger High Principal Daniel Chacon wore a matador costume for his stage performance. Aside from the needed scholarship money, Chacon said the competition allows him to form a bond with his students.
"It allows me to connect with the students," Chacon said. "This way they can see you got to work hard and you got take risks to succeed."
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2394.