2010 Junior Miss Pageant: And the winner is…

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Saturday night, 10 young ladies from Pearl River County answered interview questions, performed talent routines, and danced to an intense choreographed piece in the quest to be named either Pearl River County Junior Miss or Picayune Junior Miss for 2010. When the judging was done, Emily Ladner of Picayune Memorial High School was voted the county Junior Miss and Jasmine Thomas was named the city Junior Miss.

America’s Junior Miss, now in its 51st year, is a multi-tiered scholarship competition. The first portion is designed for young ladies in their junior year of high school to compete locally for cash scholarships and awards. Winners move up to the state level where they compete for the Mississippi Junior Miss title. The winner of that competition competes the following year as a high school senior for the America’s Junior Miss title against the winners from the other 49 states.

Contestants are judged in five different categories with scholastic achievement counting for 20 percent of the overall score; interview, 25 percent; talent, 25 percent; fitness, 15 percent and self-expression, 15 percent.

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According to Ginny Dodd, co-director of the program, each of the teens were given a self-expression question 15 minutes before the program started. “They were asked ‘How do you measure success — by your successes or your failures,’” said Dodd.

Then dressed in evening gowns ranging from the very svelte, to ruffled taffeta, to a gentle mix between the two, and in colors from tangerine to teal to vivid pink, each of the teens walked onto the stage, all smiling, where they made a small loop in the front of the judges’ stand while the Master of Ceremonies, Jerome Cumberland, noted each girl’s favorite song, favorite poem, and college of choice. They then made their way to the podium where they answered the question about success while the judges graded them on their grace, poise, demeanor, carriage, posture, and speaking ability.

Several answered they measured success by their failures, such as Allyson Boyd, who explained that the “more obstacles you persevere through, the more successful you’ll be.”

Emily Ladner said she measured her success “when you do your personal best.” She went onto say, “You can only fail when you don’t try.”

For the talent routine, the girls were judged on their originality, technical ability, costume, and stage presence. In their 90 second routine, some performed dance numbers, others sang, and others combined two talents in one presentation.

Thomas was the first to perform, doing an energetic dance and twirl routine to the song “I’ve Got Music in Me” to which Cumberland said, “Jasmine hopes you feel the music in you when she’s done.”

Matilde Williams performed a self-written monologue combined with a self-choreographed dance routine, while second runner-up for Picayune Junior Miss, Toni Oldmixon, performed a vocal routine, “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now,” in which she dedicated the first line, “Stop telling me what to do,” to her mother, Sarah.

Robyn Pascal did a percussion piece in which she combined her tap dancing skills, while Pearl River County second runner up, Allyson Boyd, performed a sassy ballet routine to music by the Beatles.

Following a talent presentation from last year’s winners, Alexandra Parker and Rebekkah Unbehagen, the contestants then performed an intense, choreographed exercise dance routine, for their fitness score, to “Hairspray” and “Momma Mia.” They did push-ups, jumping jacks, and sit-ups. Each had a solo piece where they took center stage, and after performing a few cheerleader moves, fell to the floor and did a push-up before jumping to their feet and into the air.

After fun and entertaining performances from the Caruso Academy of Dance, the Show Choir, and the Junior Miss Sister Ambassadors, the 10 contestants returned back to the stage for the awards presentation.

The Picayune Junior Miss winners were Sarah Robinson for the Spirit Award, who also won the Be Your Best Self Award and the Fitness Award; Oldmixon, in addition to being first runner-up, won the talent portion of the competition, while first place winner Thomas received the Coca-Cola scholarship, the interview award, and self-expression.

For Pearl River County Junior Miss 2010, the Be Your Best Self Award was won by Pascal, and the fitness winner was Ariel Ladner. Second runner-up was Mendez and first runner-up was Boyd, while Emily Ladner, in addition to being named the county’s Junior Miss, took home awards for self-expression, Spirit, and the Coca-Cola scholarship.

Dodd said Thomas and Ladner will compete in July for the Mississippi Junior Miss title against approximately 40 other Mississippi teens. If either girl wins the state title, they will prepare for the 2010 America’s Junior Miss competition, which will be held in June 2010.