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Being Savvy Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields eagerly embraces her time in the crown A tlantic City, resplendent on a beautiful September 11th evening, welcomed the 96th Anniversary Miss America Pageant to its famous shores and historic Boardwalk Hall. With the eyes of the nation help- ing the ABC Network and the Miss America Or- ganization capture its own ratings title for the night, returning host Chris Harrison of The Bachelor was joined by a new cohost, Sage Steele of ESPN. As the nation tuned in and the raucous live audience stood on its collective feet, Miss America 2017 presented 51 talented, beautiful, educated, and socially conscious young women vying for the crown and the opportunity to serve the organization throughout her year-of-service as a goodwill ambassador of our nation. Following the opening Parade of States introductions and the announcement of the People’s Choice winner Miss Ken- tucky Laura Jones as the initial finalist, the fourteen finalists chosen by the preliminary panel of judges were announced as Miss Washington Alicia Cooper, Miss Massachusetts Alissa Musto, Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields, Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt, Miss Idaho Kylee Solberg, Miss Iowa Kelly Koch, Miss Texas Caroline Carothers, Miss California Jessa Carmack, Miss Oklahoma Sarah Klein, Miss Maryland Han- nah Brewer, Miss New York Camille Sims, Miss Tennessee Grace Burgess, Miss Louisiana Justine Ker, and Miss Missis- sippi Laura Lee Lewis. One of these fifteen ladies would soon become Miss America 2017. With twenty-five percent of their final scores tallied from the results of the preliminary competitions, the stage welcomed the finalists in the first round of competition—Lifestyle and Fitness (Swimwear ). In a high energy display of their commitment to a healthy lifestyle, the traditional Swimwear Competition, ac- counting for 10% of the final score, would narrow the field to the twelve finalists advancing to the next round of competition: Misses Texas, Kentucky, California, Mississippi, Washington, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New York, South Carolina, Maryland, and Iowa. However, before the competitions continued, in deference to the auspicious anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our nation, Miss America Organization Executive Chair- man and CEO Sam Haskill III was joined onstage by Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry and Miss America 2002 Katie Harman Ebner in a tribute to those whose lives were lost. Current Miss America Betty Cantrell closed the ceremony to a standing ovation with an emotional rendition of Katy Perry’s “Live.” As the audience settled back into its seats, the highly antici- pated Evening Gown Competition, 15% of the final score, showcased each delegate in the personal gown of her choosing. The most elegant and sophisticated part of any competition, the live and broadcast viewers were treated to a visual extravaganza of personality, beauty, grace, and poise. The judges cast their col- lective ballots, and the quest for the crown continued into the Talent presentation. However, only ten would be asked to per- form, as the Evening Gown presentation winnowed the field to a top ten. The Talent Competition, providing 30% of the final score, features the delegates performing world-class routines that have been practiced and fine-tuned for many years. The talent was as unique and personal as the individual state representatives themselves, beginning with California - dance, New York - jazz vocal, Texas - baton twirling, Maryland - vocal, Washington - tap dance, Mississippi - vocal, Iowa - ballet en pointe, Tennessee - vocal, South Carolina - dance, and Arkansas - jazz dance, leav- ing two remaining on stage as semi-finalists. Ten had welcomed the challenge of performing their talents on the famous Miss America stage. They then prepared for the ultimate challenge, the Final Question. This could be the make- or-break moment in capturing the crown of Miss America 2017. Possessing nerves of steel, a final seven delegates ap- proached the microphone and discussed topics ranging from: “Do you feel our country has an immigration problem?” - South Carolina, the message sent by the Fox News sexual harassment settlement - Mississippi, the “Sit-or-Stand” reaction to current displays of racial protest by Colin Kapernick (NFL football player) - Washington, grading the media on its election cover- age - Maryland, opinion of Republican Presidential nominee PAGEANTRY 35