At Murray High, there is no shortage of indicators that this is indeed where David Archuleta goes to school.

There are posters with his name on them hanging in the halls. There's a banner strung across the State Street overpass ("Don't Forget to Vote!"). Outside the school entrance the electric marquee flashes the time, temperature and "MHS is Proud of David Archuleta." The principal even has news clippings taped to the front office windows.

And then there's the student body, 1,500 kids strong, every one of them a close personal pal of the odds-on favorite to become the next "American Idol."

"Everybody in this school says they're like his best friend," says Stacey Hansen, a senior, student body officer and member of the Spartonians drill team. "It's so ridiculous."

But a good ridiculous.

"It's such a great thing for Murray High School. Everybody is pulling for him, everybody's excited," says Stacey. "It's just weird to me. I mean, he sang 'Happy Birthday' to me at my party."

She knew him before it was cool to know him, in other words.

Before Randy, Paula, Simon — and America — knew him.

"Ever since we started riding the same bus in junior high," Stacey says.

She recalls when David got on the bus after winning "Star Search" as a 12-year-old.

"Some people would give him a hard time; they thought it (singing) was kind of feminine," she says. "But look at him now."

Now he's got high school kids clamoring for assemblies after school.

"Before this, nobody cared much about assemblies," says Adam Ward, Murray High's student body president. "Now they're asking about having 'David' pep rallies at night."

The student body officers have already hosted one rally, inviting all students to the school auditorium at 7 p.m. on Tuesday to watch "American Idol" on TV together — and then text their fingers off voting en masse for you know who.

"We're planning another one this Tuesday," says Ward. "I can assure you he'll get a lot of votes."

Ward says he's had a couple of Spanish classes with Archuleta and knows him slightly, but mostly as the small, shy kid who would belt out Christmas songs during the holidays — as every other kid in the class looked on in open-mouthed amazement.

"He was quiet but everybody liked him," says Ward. "He's in with a group that's like the nicest kids on Earth."

Only a few, such as Stacey, who know him from way back — like, clear back to seventh grade — appreciate how wild it is that David Archuleta has acquired full-on idol status.

That it's his name on posters all around the school.

And that all the girls on the drill team now proudly own and wear their "I Love David" T-shirts.

"It's funny, girls want to marry him," says Stacey — the further the 17-year-old Archuleta advances in the competition, the more the marriage proposals mount — "and I know he wouldn't even hug anybody."

"He's just a really genuine, regular high school kid," she says with the air of someone who knows her subject well.

And then adds, "With an amazing voice."


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.