Squeals of excitement turned into growling stomachs and sighs of frustration as hundreds of students, parents and teachers waited hours in the Barrington High School gymnasium Friday to see Rihanna.
The singer was scheduled to visit the school as a prize for winning the Bright Like a Diamond contest, won by the students of BHS-TV.
The event, which fell on the first day of spring break, was originally set for 1 p.m., then rescheduled to 2 p.m., but Rihanna didn’t appear until 5:30 p.m. The pop star tweeted at 4:20 p.m., citing Chicago traffic for the delay, after tweeting her arrival in the city at noon. She had to be back in Chicago for her 7:30 p.m. concert at the United Center.
When she did arrive, Rihanna thanked Best Buddies, Relay for Life and the Brother’s Keeper club for the work they did and money they raised.
“I’m so impressed by you,” Rihanna said. She posed for photos with volunteers from each of the three groups and left the gym at 5:50 p.m.
The contest was judged by Rihanna, and she asked students to make videos showing how their schools give back to the community. BHS has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and works with organizations such as Best Buddies and Relay for Life. BHS-TV also is known for its high-quality productions, and Rihanna chose theirs as the winner.
DJ Reflex, a performer who said he flew in from Los Angeles, entertained the students before Rihanna arrived by playing dance music and hosting a dance contest. He left the school at 4:30 p.m., tweeting that he had to catch a plane back to Los Angeles.
Principal Steve McWilliams continued to tell the audience that she was “around the corner.” He gave away signed Rihanna CDs, bracelets and tickets to Rihanna’s show in Chicago. By 5 p.m. the students were started to show their displeasure and disbelief.
Caroline Zagraniozny, a student waiting in the gym, said that she was originally excited but felt frustrated by having to wait so many hours. She said she wouldn’t leave early though.
“I want to see who she is,” Zagraniozny said.
The crowd began to thin out as students were forced to leave for work or other events. Ruby Luna, a junior, said she was aggravated.
“I’ve been here for six hours. I’ve got church at 6 [p.m.]. I was [a fan] but I don’t even know anymore,” Luna said. “I like her music, but I don’t know about her.”
Junior Jacob Bulandr, who came prepared with flowers and a sign asking Rihanna to prom, said that he would wait for the star in a sign of true love.
“I’m going to wait for her to get onstage, then I”m going to wait for everyone to get quiet,” Bulandr said. “I’ve got a bunch of guys here, and we’re going to jump up with my signs.”
She saw the sign, but didn’t speak with Bulandr.
For those that did get to meet her, they said she was worth the wait.
“I am still shaking,” said Zach Rowe, a senior who works with Brother’s Keeper. “I think she’s absolutely wonderful, and everything she does it great. I’m so happy she came to Barrington.”