The audience fell silent. I could hear my heart beating fast. It was finally time to crown the new Miss Alaska National Teen-Ager 2004. Each moment felt like an hour, and then the announcer said, "... And the new Miss Alaska National Teen-Ager 2004 is, Kristin Hamerski, contestant #3."
As I was crowned I was struck with how truly spectacular an honor this was. I knew I had worked hard to get to this point, but more than even the crown I walked away with a greater sense of my faith. I know that God had a plan for me that day just as He has a plan for my life.
In this column I hope to help each of you find the right pageant for your abilities and talents. There are truly a plethora of choices, but when choosing a pageant always remember that while the scholarships and titles are wonderful, the biggest change in your life should be intangible, increased confidence, determination, leadership, and a passion for being around people.
As you might remember my first column in PHS (issue 49) talked about the America's National Teen-Ager Pageant. I won the Miss Alaska Junior National Teen-Ager title in 2001 and am now the Miss Alaska Senior National Teen-Ager 2004. I have thoroughly enjoyed this program and think many of you will too.
The National Teen-Ager program is for girls ages 13-15 (Junior Division) and 16-18 (Senior Division). The cost varies year to year, but my state pageant fees were $395. You can of course obtain sponsors for all of your pageant fees, and even dresses, suits, etc. The judging criteria for this pageant is 25 percent GPA (scholastic/academic achievement past and present), 25 percent Community and School Involvement (volunteer work, civics, and club positions, etc.) 25 percent Interview (communications skills, including articulation, knowledge of yourself, your views/beliefs, and current events, etc.) 15 percent Evening Gown (walking in evening gown and answering an onstage question), and 10 percent Personal Expression (modeling and/or dancing in a jean and t-shirt outfit you decorated that expresses yourself). You can also compete in optional competitions, such as: an essay competition (writing an essay on "What it means to be an American," memorizing it and delivering it at the pageant) a talent competition, as well as photo and portfolio competitions. There is no swimsuit competition for this program. A wonderful plus to this pageant is the incredible amount of scholarships that are given out to both the winners and other contestants.
America's National Teen-Ager National web site:
Alaska's National Teen-Ager web site:
This web site has my most recent win and if you scroll down to the bottom you can find the links to the other years when I was in the pageant. In 2001 I won the Junior title, and in 2002 there are the pictures of when I was crowning another queen. This will show the progression of how a pageant works when you win.
For younger girls interested in a program like America's National Teen-Ager, the Miss National Pre-teen and Petite Pageants are a wonderful option. The Petite Division is for girls ages 5-8. They are judged as follows: 1/3 Personal Interview with the Judges, 1/3 Party Dress Presentation, and 1/3 Personality Projection. The Pre-teen Division is for girls ages 9-12. They are judged by the following criteria: 30 percent Academics and Achievements, 30 percent Personal Interview with the Judges, 20 percent Poise and Presentation in Gown, and 20 percent Personality Projection. Both the Pre-teen and Petite Divisions offer optional contests such as: public speaking, costume, talent, sportswear, photo and portfolio.
Miss National Pre-teen and Petite Pageant:
Another pageant that I have been actively involved in is the American Coed Pageants. I was Miss Alaska Teen American Coed 2003 and wrote about my American Coed National Pageant experiences in PHS issue 58. This pageant has many age divisions, so several girls in a family could do it together if they like. Princess division (3-6), Sweetheart Division (7-9), Pre-teen Division (10-12), Junior Teen Division (13-15), Teen Division (16-17), and a Coed Division (18-22). Girls are judged as follows: 1/3 Poise and Appearance in Formal Wear, 1/3 Personal Introduction in Interview Outfit, and 1/3 Personality during a Personal Interview. Also, this pageant does not let girls under 13 wear make-up. The cost for entering a state pageant is usually around $300. The state pageants for this program have an application process where you list GPA, volunteer work, etc. for the judges. The National Pageant, however, is a little different. You submit a book on GPA and volunteer work separately as an optional competition, which has no bearing on the National title. The National title competition is broken down into the same way as above. There are also many optional competitions which you can enter: Talent, Essay/Speech, Cheerleader, Actress, Modeling, Photogenic, et al. Again, there is no swimsuit competition in this pageant. This pageant is also a good source of scholarships, although America's National Teen-Ager gives out a bit more.
Note: Coed does not mean boys and girls compete together. Only girls compete in this pageant.
American Coed Pageants National web site:
Alaska Coed Pageants web site:
This web site has a picture of me when I was the 2003 Teen in the "Pageant Outfits" section.
For older girls there is the very famous Miss America Pageant. This pageant is for girls 17-24, and the local preliminary competitions are free. This pageant also offers scholarships; in many cases they even offer scholarships to every girl who wins a preliminary local competition. The areas of competition include: 40 percent Private Interview, 30 percent Talent, 10 percent Swimsuit/Fitness, 10 percent Evening Wear, and 10 percent Onstage Question. This pageant requires a great deal of communications skills as well as talent skills, as you can see by the percentage breakdown. If you win your state pageant you will receive the opportunity to compete in the National competition in Atlantic City, NJ, which is nationally televised.
Miss America Organization National web site:
The previous pageants I have listed have all been scholarship pageants, but there are also beauty pageants, which offer exciting opportunities as well.
Among beauty pageants, you have probably already heard of the Miss Teen USA and Miss USA Pageants.
Miss Teen USA is for girls 15-18 and includes the following areas of competition: Interview, Swimwear, Evening Gown, and Onstage Question. This is a very competitive pageant because state winners get to compete for the Miss Teen USA title, which among other prizes includes being part of the nationally televised National Pageant.
Miss Teen USA National web site:
Miss USA is for girls 19-26 and includes the same areas of competition as listed in Miss Teen USA. This pageant is also highly competitive because each state winner receives the chance to compete for the Miss USA title. The winner of Miss USA then goes on to compete for the title of Miss Universe. The National and International competitions are both nationally televised.
Miss USA National web site:
From my experience, both of these pageants cost about $600 to compete in the state pageant level.
There are of course pros and cons to each program, but the real determining factor for selecting a pageant is knowing what will suit you best. Depending on your faith you may not feel swimsuit competition is appropriate, so you should always carefully look at the areas of competition before you pay your fees in order to make sure you will feel comfortable with the pageant you will be competing in. Another question to ask yourself is, "Where are my strengths?" Whether it be talent, speaking, communications skills, GPA, volunteer work, or another category, the best way to do well in a pageant is to pick a pageant that has areas of competition that you will really shine in. Looking at the percentage breakdown for judging is a very helpful tool for making that decision. Another tip is to call or meet with the pageant director. You can truly learn a lot about a pageant by talking with the director. Going to watch the pageant you want to compete in is also a good idea, which I would highly recommend. That way you can see if it is something you really want to do, and if it is talk to the winners and see if they have any tips for you regarding that particular pageant. This way when it comes time for you to compete you will feel comfortably in your element and confident that you will do your best.
My experiences with pageants have been very positive. I have strengthened valuable skills as well as gained new skills. I have also received opportunities that I could never have imagined otherwise as well as many scholarships, which are currently helping me to pay for all of my college tuition expenses.
Pageants are truly an amazing opportunity, but remember in each pageant there can only be one winner and one crown given away. I did not win my very first pageant, but I took what I learned from it and worked hard and won my second. I would just say to all of you, enter the pageant with the drive to win, but also realize that you cannot win every time and that God may have another plan for you. Sometimes moms buy a cute tiara for their young daughters so that after the pageant they won't feel bad if they didn't win. Pageants, like anything competitive can have ups and downs, but I know that if you are determined enough and have faith in yourself you can accomplish things you never thought possible.
The best piece of advice I can offer regarding pageants, or competition of any kind, is to let your light shine through. God has a special plan for your life and cares about you, and in knowing that the best possible attribute you can have is faith in yourself. Have faith that you can succeed! Pageants hold limitless opportunities and build on so many important skills that I would highly recommend them! Remember though, that far above winning a crown the greatest reward is growing character and other important facets of who you are that will last far beyond your year as a queen.
If you are interested in communication skills see PHS issue 55 and for talent see issue 56.
Depending upon the pageant you enter, they may offer free or nominal charges for pageant preparation workshops which can be very beneficial for someone who hasn't done pageants before.
For more information on other pageants not listed here as well as those listed here visit the Alaska Pageants link. It also has an amazing amount of links to pageant resources.
Another good site is the Alaska Pageants Facts Page:
This has some great Q&A about pageants.
Note: All of the national websites listed should have easy ways of directing you to the pageant in your state, usually complete with an entry form.
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