Accent on Achievement
American Pageants welcomed a bevy of intelligent, poised, and beautiful young women to the Sunshine State
Orlando, Florida, the City Beautiful welcomed the most academically-gifted, poised, and community service-oriented young women from across the country in their quest for one of the five coveted crowns of American Pageants, formerly known as Miss Teen of America. The Miss Teen of America Scholarship and Recognition Pageant was founded in 1983 by Mr. Warren Alexander, a former educator and pageant director, and designed to help America’s youth reach their full potential. In 2017, the Miss Teen of America Organization rebranded as American Pageants to include additional age divisions: Little Miss of America (ages 7-9), Young Miss of America (ages 10-12), Junior Miss of America (ages 13-15), Miss Teen of America (ages 16-18), and Miss of America (19-26). In other words, Orlando had just welcomed another major attraction to its impressive cornucopia of must-see events.
With its Accent on Achievement, all delegates competed in the requisite competitions of Judge’s Interview (25%) and Personality Projection & Poise in Evening Wear (15%). The delegates of American Pageants’ youngest divisions would also be judged in the categories of Scholastic Record (30%) and School Activities & Community Service (30%), while competing for the National Titles of Little Miss of America and Young Miss of America. Within the divisions of Junior Miss of America, Miss Teen of America, and Miss of America, 15% of the final score was awarded through each of the following categories: Scholastic (and/or Professional) Record, Service & Achievement to School & Community, Personal Development, and General Awareness. With so many qualified and deserving young ladies competing for the crowns of American Pageants, the difficult decision by the panel of judges was immediately apparent to everyone.
American Pageants week kicked off in true sunny Florida style with the nationwide delegates arriving to picture perfect weather for registration, orientation, and rehearsals. With such an action-filled first day, one would assume everyone would be ready to call it a day, but not these young ladies. No, after a full day, each and every one donned their favorite pajamas and headed straight to the Pajama Jam Party to close the exciting evening in the true family atmosphere of American Pageants.
The initial competitions began bright and early with the General Awareness Test for those within the required divisions, followed by the poolside photo shoot inclusive of all delegates. With the nerves of the morning quickly fading, it was time for more American Pageants frivolity. First, lunchtime was definitely energized with a trip to the world-renowned ’50s diner, Johnny Rockets. And no, we cannot verify if any of the delegates or family members participated in the always fun and hilarious group dancing while at the eatery. Afterwards, what would a day be without shopping? To burn off the luncheon calories the American Pageants delegates were treated to a shopping spree, courtesy of Charming Charlie where the fashionistas learned about upcoming trends and how to appropriately accessorize for business, pageant, or fun outfits.
Shopping complete, it was time to visit the iconic Orlando attraction, WonderWorks, where everything may not be as it seems. Upon entering the topsy-turvy upside-down building, the candidates were greeted by athletes from Special Olympics Florida to enjoy an educational experience through the plethora of hands-on experiments, games, and obstacle courses. Although this was an exceedingly fun time, the event served as a terrific example of American Pageant’s platform of promoting inclusion through Project Unify and the R-Word Campaign (#Respect). It was a day of competition, fun, learning, and compassion. However, the day was not over. In the spirit of camaraderie and sisterhood, the candidates and their entire families were feted with the State Introductory Dinner whereby the delegates introduced themselves while impersonating a famous individual from their home state. This was the perfect opportunity for the girls to get to know each other through the use of personality, culture, and humor.
The thrill of the Judge’s Interview awaited the candidates the following morning, as each of the outstanding representatives enjoyed the opportunity of meeting with the judges to speak about her scholastics, community service, and goals, all the while stating her qualifications to capture an American Pageants crown. As stated by the judges, “It was a wonderful opportunity to meet these young women who have achieved so much after reading the scholastic records, but who also give so much back to their communities through service and volunteerism. We all feel we could visit with these young ladies all day.” And with each personal and insightful interview, the judges’ task of selecting one person from each division to represent American Pageants became much more difficult.
As the morning and afternoon interviews finished, the events of the evening brought in the majesty and glamour of Personality Projection & Poise in Evening Wear. Each delegate took to the stage before the appreciative and supportive Orlando crowd, all the while projecting her individual sense of grace, confidence, sophistication, and style. Evening Wear is always a highly anticipated event within the Glamour Lifestyle Industry, and the representatives of American Pageants held true to the highest of standards.
Unfortunately for the judges, who thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of evening wear, their duties were complete for the day. But not for the delegates, families, friends, and fans. As a new set of judges were ushered into the ballroom, the Optional Events commenced which would recognize outstanding individuals through their performances within Talent, Sportswear, Fun Fashion, and Personal Introduction. With singing and acoustic guitars, cheerleaders, inspirational quotes and fun, fabulous outfits, the contestants in the optional events shined and sparkled the evening away! At the end of the night, winners were announced in the preliminary categories and all optional events, which included the performances from earlier in the evening and the non-performing categories of formal and informal photogenic, art and essay.
Finals day arrived, and the venue, delegates, and anyone who had witnessed these young ladies throughout competition week were abuzz with excitement and anticipation. As everyone prepared for the eventual crowning of five new American Pageants’ titleholders, the delegates fine-tuned their finale performance throughout the day in rehearsals, ensuring a final’s presentation to remember.
With the dimming of the lights, the finals of American Pageants commenced and the audience welcomed each contestant to the stage as she introduced herself through a sustained, exuberant, and vociferous display of appreciation. The finalists, when announced, took center stage to answer a final question for one more opportunity to impress her qualifications upon the panel of judges. Before the announcement of the new queens, the parade of Evening Wear reminded everyone that these were young ladies who were not only achievers in life, but also young women who possessed true inner and outer beauty. After a memorable week of competition, meeting new friends, and projecting the true values of our industry, it was time to announce the 2018 American Pageants Queens: Little Miss of America 2018 Kailey Turner, Young Miss of America 2018 Lindy Harano, Junior Miss of America 2018 Haven Watts, Miss Teen of America 2018 Alana Castle, and Miss of America 2018 Sarah Jensen.
As the lights dimmed on the Orlando stage, one thing remained certain, the stars and lights of these American Pageants representatives will continue to burn bright far into the future with their Accent on Achievement and commitment to community as beacons for others to follow.