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The process was fairly simple: Corvallis High School students paid Mr. and Ms. Spartan contestants $1, then a dozen or so singing cupids would interrupt a person of their choosing in class to deliver singing valentines.

“People write notes, we go deliver them and embarrass everyone, including ourselves,” said Eloise Navarro, a head coordinator for the student-run Mr. and Ms. Spartan competition, which raises money for local charities.

Throughout the day Thursday, groups of Mr. and Ms. Spartan participants roamed the high school, delivering notes and a piece of candy, singing songs like Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” as they went.

The 30-plus participants in the contest put on fundraising events throughout the school year.

Navarro said the candygram event raised around $400 last year and helps promote the charity fundraising competition within the school. Last year the Mr. and Ms. Spartan events collectively raised nearly $97,000.

“It’s one of our easiest fundraisers that involves the school directly. A lot of our events take place outside the school,” she said.

Navarro said this year the competition is raising money for the Mario Pastega House, the Samaritan Pastega Regional Cancer Center, the Chintimini Wildlife Center, the Corvallis School District food pantry and the Corvallis High School Yearbook Angels, who make sure low-income students can get yearbooks.

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Navarro said the candygrams are a Corvallis High  tradition and she herself got to experience the same embarrassment as a younger student. She added that even shy Mr. and Ms. Spartan participants help out with candygrams. She said there's some value to the embarrassment in that it can help inspire contestants from their shells.

“As much as (Mr. and Ms. Spartan) is about charity, it’s also about personal growth,” she said.

Malea Sinclair, a senior and pageant participant, said as a younger student seeing the Mr. and Ms. Spartan contestants delivering candygrams always seemed like fun and that was part of what made her want to participate.

She said she thinks the freshmen are the ones who get the most embarrassed because older students have seen the candygrams before. 

Sinclair organized a Spring Fling Dance as her event for Mr. and Ms. Spartan earlier this month. She said the dance was a stressful ordeal, but it's something she's proud of now.

She added that the competition has been worth the effort because of the friendships she’s made.

The Mr. and Ms. Spartan Garage Sale, often one of the biggest fundraising events in the competition, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 2, in the Corvallis High School cafeteria, at 1400 NW Buchanan Ave.

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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