iFlurtz helps Richland High ASB raise cancer funds

RICHLAND -- The four girls crowded around a sheet of paper one of them had just torn out of an envelope.

Their huge smiles contradicted the squeals of "Oh, no" and "Oh my god."

At another table, three boys compared print-outs, proudly pointing at the listed names .

Food trays sat largely untouched in Richland High School's cafeteria Friday.

Instead, most of the attention was directed at the results of a match-making game called iFlurtz. The fundraiser organized by the school's Associated Student Body collects money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which supports blood cancer research and care.

The game also sets the mood for Valentine's Day, which at Richland High kicks off a weeklong battle of the sexes.

The activity begins in mid-January, when ASB students hand out iFlurtz questionnaires in each homeroom while they make their rounds for business announcements.

The surveys ask kids such questions as how they like to spend their free time, what foods they eat and if they would rather be roommates with LeBron James or Taylor Swift, to name a few.

Students fill out the surveys on their own time and turn them in to the ASB office during lunch.

The questionnaires go back to iFlurtz headquarters, where they are entered into a computer and analyzed for similarities.

And just in time for Valentine's Day, the results come back. If students want to see them, they buy the print-outs for $2. Half of that goes to charity, the rest to the company.

The print-outs show several lists, most prominently two that are labeled "Best Matches" and "Ridiculously Opposite." Each list has the top 10 names fitting that category, with a percentage of compatibility attached to the name.

The sheets also feature suggestions for best friends, celebrities who match each student's interests and astrologically compatible schoolmates.

Computer-aided matches doesn't sound like your parents' high-school dating scene, does it?

Not so fast, say some of the ASB students involved in the iFlurtz effort. The thought of going on a date with someone because a computer said so elicited a collective "Eww!"

The fundraiser is just a game, something funny to look at for one lunch hour, the students said.

"It's a good break from normality, from the school grind," Dustin Waite said.

Not that the possibilities presented on the lists couldn't be fun to think about. "If you get a hot guy, it's like -- Dang!" Maddi Jacobs said.

But that doesn't mean she'd actually go talk to the guy, she quickly clarified.

It can be a good conversation starter, though. Especially the "Best Friends" list, which Waite said he has used before. The list can help find like-minded people in a student body of 2,000.

"Seeing as our school is so big, you don't get to know everyone," Cassi Davis said.

Information technology may not have altered high school dating, but that doesn't mean nothing's changed, starting with what you call the thing.

"It's not how it was back then," Davis said. "We're just hanging out."

Things can be more casual and not so official these days, the students said. Nobody needs to really know you're "hanging out" until you're sure you want people to know.

But it's not like that for everyone.

"There's a small population like myself that sticks to the old ways," Tyler Powell said. "It's not hanging out. It takes more effort, but you take the time to make sure your girlfriend knows she's special."

When you meet the right person, that is the way to go, the rest of the group agreed.

Maybe things haven't really changed that much for this generation. One thing certainly hasn't -- letting your partner know you appreciate him or her does wonders for a relationship.

"Simple things mean a lot," said Chelsea Rhoads.

"Yeah, like a cute note," Jacobs said. "That can mean more than a ring."

Bringing your sweetheart coffee in the morning will get you more bonus points than getting her an expensive present once a year, everyone agreed.

What about Valentine's Day gifts, then? Well, a single rose or a card would be nice, most said. But again, simple and thoughtful is better.

According to this small sample of students, girls have it even easier on Valentine's Day.

Guys need "just the smile and the 'I love you,'" from their girlfriends, Waite said.

But more importantly, everyone thought Valentine's Day is about more than romantic relationships. Valentine's Day represents a day of love, yes, but it's about loving one another, Davis said.

"It's an opportunity to show that you care," Maggie Jones said.

And today, students at Richland High will show each other that they care. Students decorated the hallways with paper hearts and the ASB will put on a movie night featuring the romantic comedy named after the holiday.

But that sweetness won't last.

"It's all lovey-dovey on Monday and Tuesday," Waite said. "But on Wednesday, the battle begins."

Each day in the second half of the week has a theme -- on one day guys wear hats, girls wear bows, for example. The paper hearts are replaced with cut-outs of broken hearts.

And on Friday, it's the Battle of the Sexes during morning assembly. There's a sing-off, a dance-off and a competition over how many students of each gender showed up wearing pink or blue.

At the end of assembly, a panel of teachers decides which gender has collected more points throughout the week.

And with that, one gender can declare its superiority. At least until next year.

All of it -- iFlurtz, the battle and the colored clothing -- serves a teaching purpose, said teacher Jim Qualheim, the ASB adviser.

"It gets kids connected to school," Qualheim said. "It makes them feel part of something. When kids feel good about their school, they do better."

That's all very well from a teacher's standpoint. But the kids are in it for the battle, too.

Last year, the boys earned bragging rights during Valentine's week. Cassi Davis partially blames herself, for picking a song that not enough kids knew for the sing-off. She won't make that mistake again.

"This year, it's going down," she said.

Battle of the sexes -- some things really haven't changed.