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Students begin to leave as Rihanna nears Barrington High School hours late

Updated: March 26, 2013 5:53PM

BARRINGTON — Four hours after doors opened at Barrington High School for Rihanna’s much-anticipated visit, seniors Lexi Thodos and Nicole Tinkoff decided they had enough.

Instead of the chance to see the international pop star up-close, they left to get ready for a Spring Break trip to Mexico.

“We would have waited, but we can’t reschedule,” Thodos said.

The high school gym filled up just after noon Friday for Rihanna’s 2 p.m. visit, but there was still no sign of Rihanna at 4:15 p.m. To keep the crowd occupied, Rihanna’s disc-jockey, DJ Reflex, started a dance contest.

Jeff Arnett, District 220’s chief communications officer, said the anticipated crowd of 2,500 had whittled down to about 2,000 by 4 p.m.

“Students have been amazingly patient despite the wait,” Arnett said. “All things considered, everybody is having a good time.”

At 4:20 p.m., the school announced she was five minutes away.

Arnett reported that two of Rihanna’s staff members have been at the school all day, providing updates but no official start time.

“They continue to tell us she’s on her way,” he said, adding that she is coming from Chicago.

“We would have liked to start on time, but it’s always been out of our control.”

The school’s television and video students earned the visit by winning first place in the national “Shine Bright Like a Diamond” contest, which is named after Rihanna’s hit 2012 song, “Diamonds.”

The five-minute, student produced video highlighted all of the school’s recent volunteer and community service efforts, including students’ work with Gigi’s Playhouse, Brother’s Keeper, Relay for Life and A Ride for Three Reasons.

Rihanna also is scheduled to perform Friday night at the United Center.

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