Clouds and rain reflected the mood felt by many Utahns Thursday after David Cook beat Murray teen David Archuleta to be named the new "American Idol."
"Everyone's in shock," said Claudia Aragon, Archuleta's friend and neighbor. "You can just feel it."
Debbie Sorensen, vice principal of Murray High School, summed up the atmosphere Thursday at the school: "A little subdued, but not bereaved."
Sorensen said many students saw the silver lining, saying, "Why even worry when he's No. 2 out of the thousands who have participated?"
Several hundred Murray High students, according to Sorensen, went to the EnergySolutions Arena Wednesday to watch the final "American Idol" show live and be taped for segments of the show. Nielsen Media Research says 31.7 million viewed the broadcast nationwide.
Many students seemed to accept the fact that no matter how America feels, Archuleta is "our idol."
"We were anticipating much different results," she said. "But we knew Cook was a fierce competitor."
So, Sorensen said, Thursday at the high school was "a little sad."
But not too sad.
"We're OK," Sorensen said. "We still have a lot of pride." She said the huge banner on the side of the school will stay up all summer.
Archuleta fans, from Connecticut to Florida, New York to Texas, posted on his MySpace.com fan Web sites. The comments reflect good, bad and even some ugliness in Archuleta's second-place finish.
"Who cares if David Cook won? You'll still be in our hearts," one fan wrote.
"This is crazy! What is wrong with America?" wrote another.
And another: "I am never watching 'Idol' ever, ever, ever again!"
Some national media responses to the final outcome were slightly more diplomatic.
On TV Guide News, writer Matt Roush wrote, "There were no losers Wednesday night."
And The New York Times reporter Benjamin Toff wrote that the "two Davids became Goliaths."
As for Murray High students, Sorensen said, "We are moving forward."
Sorensen said many students will be excited when they get to see Archuleta again but they don't know when that will be.
Archuleta told Sorensen before he left for "American Idol" that he wanted to graduate from Murray High. But Sorensen said the likelihood of Archuleta leading a normal high school life now is slim.
Archuleta's neighbor, Aragon, said she doesn't expect Archuleta to come home any time soon, either.
But when he does visit, she said, they will have his neighborhood decorated just as it was when he came the first time.
"Either way, he's a winner," Aragon said.
Before the winner was announced Wednesday, Murray City officials spoke with representatives from the hometown of Jordan Sparks, Glendale, Ariz., to find out what to expect in case Archuleta won.
Glendale officials said Sparks didn't return for an entire year.
That seems feasible. Both the Davids have already rolled into the media circus of live television.
Thursday morning, the two finalists arrived in the Nokia Theatre plaza and began a round of interviews for the FOX affiliates from around the country.
Looking surprisingly well-rested, refreshed and completely relaxed, Murray's David Archuleta appeared on FOX 13 with reporter, Big Budah.
Answering the usual litany of questions about future record deals (none yet), and how he stays so humble (friends and family,) Archuleta sweetly commented that he doesn't take any credit for his talent and he always "thanks ... " then pointed up to the sky.
Both "American Idol" finalists are also scheduled to be on "Larry King Live" Friday at 7 p.m. and they'll sing in the plaza on NBC's Today Show next Thursday.
Then, of course, there is the "Idol" concert this summer. Locally, it is scheduled for July 14-15 at the E Center in West Valley City.
David Archuleta fans hope to see him sooner than that.But until then, Sorensen asked, "Now what are we going to do Tuesday nights?"
Contributing: Erica Hansen
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