Tag Archive | allison baird

ROAR

Well, HELLO!!!!! Long time no post! As always, THANK YOU for reading the blog!

I have been ‘off the grid’ for most of the month of June.  Vacation, time with family, heaven at home.

IT HAS BEEN FABULOUS!

Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath, step back, close your eyes and BE.  I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and reminded of who I am.  GO OFF THE GRID! IT’S GREAT!  Even if just for a few days.

Before my amazing time at home with the three men in my life (four, if you count our dog, Mack), my hiatus began with a long awaited trip to North Platte, Nebraska.

MISS NEBRASKA 2015.

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Photo courtesy of Corbey Dorsey for the North Platte Telegraph; click here to read the NPT’s wonderful article on Alyssa by reporter Kamie Stephen!

After seven days of rehearsals and events, four days of nerve-wracking competition, a lot of laughs and some tears, too.. Miss Douglas County Alyssa Howell was crowned Miss Nebraska 2015.  What an INCREDIBLE moment to cap off a wonderful week for this caring, young woman.  Alyssa has dedicated so much of her time to others.  She is sweet, kind, hard working and focused.  For five years, she also watched her big sister compete at both the Miss Iowa and Miss Nebraska pageant, finishing as a finalist multiple times.

THIS MOMENT WAS ALL ALYSSA.  SHE WILL NOW FOREVER BE MISS NEBRASKA.

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So many cool moments; the kids who just LOVED Alyssa, including her Little Sisters who took part in all of the Miss Nebraska events at her side, and the little boy who not only wanted one kiss, he circled around for a second.  Alyssa’s real boyfriend, Grady, and his excitement and sheer pride every moment leading up to his girl’s crowning moment.  Shrieks of joy between Alyssa and the new Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Steffany Lien; the two have been Miss Douglas County sisters for months, now they are going to Miss America together.  And the heartwarming friendship and bond between Alyssa and her sister queen Miss Omaha Megan Gould, supporting each other from Omaha to North Platte and still to this day.

But.. I’m going to throw this out there.. was Alyssa ‘the best’?

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How do you choose which flower is ‘the best’ in the garden?  Which city is ‘the best’ in our state?  Which art, whether it be singing or dancing or playing piano, is ‘the best’?  Alyssa will be a FANTASTIC Miss Nebraska and I cannot WAIT to see how far she’ll go at Miss America.  This is Alyssa’s time; this is the result of her hard work; this recognizes an exceptional young woman, helping her to inspire so many more; and five smart, talented, and critical judges determined Alyssa Howell was the best candidate for this job as Miss Nebraska 2015.

The best of the best, you might say.. because HOLY CRAP, did this event showcase some absolutely incredible women in our state.

4th Runner Up, Miss Northwest LaRissa McKean

JOYFUL.  LaRissa McKean radiated happiness, and made everyone in the Miss Nebraska audience feel it.  She also shared that positivity with her fellow contestants, voted Miss Congeniality by the majority of the other titleholders.  LaRissa CAPTIVATED the audience Thursday night, winning the Preliminary Talent Award with an energetic and dazzling dance (another Kitty Lee Dance graduate!)  As I told one of my friends during finals night, she JUST MAKES ME SMILE.  What a better role model than that?

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3rd Runner Up, Miss Heartland Steffani Jiroux

BREATHTAKING.  I love watching dance, but don’t know much about it (and hurt myself trying.) I know even less about ballet, but I LOVE the costumes, the makeup, the SHOW.  And boy, oh boy, did Steffani Jiroux deliver.

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Just stop and look at this picture for a second.. (and thanks to Kamie Stephen and the North Platte Telegraph for sharing it!)

It was like watching a scene from a movie. Steffani also seemed to enjoy herself every moment; smiling nonstop, walking across that stage like she OWNED it, twirling around her Little Sisters like they were just dancing in the living room and not competing for the title of Miss Nebraska.  What’s next for Steffani? Continuing LAW SCHOOL at Creighton University.

2nd Runner Up, Miss Kool-Aid Days Brooke Ludemann

SENSATIONAL.  Miss Nebraska and Miss America challenge a woman to become the best version of herself in all areas, and Brooke Ludemann pushed herself to the max in every. single. test.  Her gown made me gasp (in a good way!); her answers showed evidence of a woman with a business plan as Miss Nebraska; her physical self was a demonstration of what our bodies can become with hard work and discipline, and her talent.. I have no words.  On the final night of competition, with everything on the line, Brooke’s performance singing ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables game me CHILLS.  Brooke won 2nd place for the Miss Nebraska Community Service Award, and she will be Nebraska’s representative at the National Sweetheart Pageant this summer.

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1st Runner Up, Miss Kearney Crane Festival Allison Tietjen

JAW DROPPING.  Every time Allison Tietjen walked on stage, my eyes were just DRAWN to her.  (In a completely uncreepy way, regardless of how that sounds…) She is the model of poise, grace, and beauty.  Allison could’ve walked right off the Miss Nebraska stage onto Hollywood’s red carpet and fit right in. BUT, what I love is that Allison knows, and SHOWS, this program’s power and purpose extends long beyond Miss Nebraska week.  Allison’s work promoting awareness of our veterans earned her the Miss Nebraska Community Service Award and the Miss America Community Service Award; she also earned the Miracle Maker Award for raising more than $1300 for the Children’s Miracle Network, helping hospitals like Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.  Oh yea, and Allison JUST TURNED 19 in April.  Truly exceptional.

I would argue not one of these women is ‘better’ than the other; each is SENSATIONAL.  They each prepared, volunteered, practiced.. hoping THIS was their year, and their time.  It was only destiny for one–and Alyssa is FABULOUS.  But this is why you see so many girls try again for the crown.. and thank the Lord for that, because they are all deserving, INCREDIBLE women, and bringing them together to recognize them and their accomplishments is uplifting and inspiring to everyone who can be part of it.  WE ARE WOMEN, HEAR US ROAR!!!!

***

Now to the moment I know you all have been waiting for…

The 2nd Annual Brandi Petersen Unofficial Superfan Awards!

( ahem… I’ll wait for your laughter to die down before I proceed..)

The ‘My Life Goal Is To Look Like Carrie Underwood’ Awards…

Again.. the work and service that take place the other 364 days of the year are arguably the most important part of the Miss America Organization.. but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the gowns!!  C’mon.. from dreaming of your wedding gown, to picking out prom dresses, to playing dress up as a little girl, who DOESN’T love beautiful dresses?!? 2015 was simply a RAINBOW of color on the Miss Nebraska stage, and THAT alone made it awesome.  So much diversity; different colors, styles, fits.. and so much elegance!

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Remember how I said Miss Kool-Aid Days Brooke Ludemann’s gown made me gasp?  GASP!!!  OHHH.. this dress.. this moment.. absolutely INCREDIBLE. (Details: Tarik Ediz gown from the Black Swan Dress Boutique in Lincoln)

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Miss Kearney Crane Festival Allison Tietjen.. ANOTHER gown that stole my breath.  Just STUNNING.  (Details: custom Sherri Hill gown from the Winning Crown Boutique in Omaha)

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And boy, those Kearney Crane Festival Directors KNOW THEIR STYLE.. because Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s Outstanding Teen was possibly MY FAVORITE gown of the weekend!  There was just something so very special about Merrilee Prill when she walked on stage in this dress.  The color, the style, HOW she wore it.  I LOVED IT. ( Details: Jovani Fashions gown from the Black Swan Dress Boutique in Lincoln–thanks to owner Joe Bohac for the photo!)

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Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen Cherokee Purviance.. what a GORGEOUS choice for her gown!  On stage, this color and the sparkle were just RADIANT.  (Details: a Mac Duggal gown from Hirschfeld’s Prom Shoppe in North Platte–thanks to them for the photo!)

The ‘Holy Crap, Petersen, Put Down That Blizzard’ Awards..

I’d like to show you my reaction to this year’s Miss contestants competing in swimsuit.

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My thanks to Taylor Swift for the assist.

ABSOLUTELY SENSATIONAL.  This year EXEMPLIFIED that Lifestyle and Fitness is just that–this competition is intended to encourage women to treat their bodies like temples and reach their full physical potential.  AND THESE WOMEN DID.  Abs, biceps, quads for days. This wasn’t about starving, or being the skinniest.  You could SEE their work; the time they spent in the gym and the time they DIDN’T spend at their local fast food spot.

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Miss Omaha Megan Gould was my winner for swimsuit.  I know this girl puts in countless hours of dance and practice as a Nebraska Cornhusker cheerleader, and WOW-did that hard work show!!  Plus Megan was just SOO confident, not conceited in the least, just wonderfully comfortable in her own skin.  You go, Megan!

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Miss Heartland Steffani Jiroux.  This is her profile picture now on Facebook (taken by Kamie Stephen for the North Platte Telegraph), and to me, that’s using restraint.  If I looked like this, I’d make a cardboard cutout of myself to greet people at my front door.  THIS is what happens with 20 years of ballet training and several more as a member of the Creighton University dance team!

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Miss Kearney Crane Festival Allison Tietjen was the Overall Swimsuit Winner at Miss Nebraska this year, and here’s why!  Another absolutely radiant moment in red for the UNL sophomore, and in case you’re wondering, she’s a piano player.. so what you see is the result of sheer hours in the gym and dedication to nutrition!

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And Miss Kool-Aid Days Brooke Ludemann.  Just.. WOW.  MUSCLE ON MUSCLE WITH MUSCLE.  When I messaged Brooke about using this photo, she responded ‘I’m darn proud of those photos!’  AS SHE SHOULD BE!! AH-MAZ-ING!!

STRENGTH, POWER, HEALTH. Are you listening, America? I just read this morning there are more clinically obese people in our country than simply overweight Americans.  Heart disease remains a leading killer.  These women exercised and ate healthy with consistency and self discipline for months, and likely formed a foundation to continue to do so to some extent.  Long after that 10 second walk across stage in a swimsuit, their health is improved, their confidence is boosted, and they’ve empowered and inspired many others. (I’M AT THE TOP OF THAT LIST!) Ladies, you should be so very proud of yourselves.

The Nebraska’s Got Talent Awards..

MY WINNERS FOR TALENT: THIS YEAR’S MISS NEBRASKA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN CONTESTANTS.

BLOWN AWAY.

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to the other young woman who wrapped up this weekend in North Platte with a state title..

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Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Steffany Lien is now Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015!  (A 3-peat for Omaha titleholders!)  While Steffany shined all night at the competition, SHE OWNED talent.  America, watch out; when this girl competes for the national title in Orlando this July, she will STUN YOU!

CLICK HERE to see a preview, showing Steffany competing at the World Championships in Italy in April, winning her SIXTH world title.

Steffany does things with a baton that challenge the Laws of Gravity and Physics.  Not only have I never seen her drop a baton in competition, I’ve never seen the girl even ‘almost’ drop one in rehearsal.  She is SENSATIONAL!

Nebraska’s 10th Outstanding Teen was one of several incredibly talented young teenagers who competed in North Platte this year.  Piano players, singers, dancers.. these girls are so young they can’t vote, but they knocked the socks off everyone in the audience Friday night.

Among my favorites (along with Steffany, of course!)..

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..singer Emma Kate Brown, Miss Platte Valley’s Outstanding Teen.  There’s a reason why little girls love her.. because someday she will be the voice of a princess in a Disney movie.  That’s how I described her voice to my husband.  Emma Kate sang ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story and her innate vocal talent is just BEAUTIFUL.  I’m calling it now.. the next animated blockbuster you take your kids to, you will likely hear Emma Kate in the soundtrack! (And a huge CONGRATULATIONS to this beauty as well!  Less than two weeks after being named 2nd Runner Up at Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, the Elkhorn South student was also named Nebraska’s Best High School Actress, winning an all-expenses paid trip to New York to compete for the National Award!!)

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Grace Heggem, Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen, was dazzling from start to finish.  She played Tarantella on the piano, her fingers dancing across the keys at the speed of light, and she NAILED it.  Much like ballet, I know nothing about piano, but I can hear a bad note… and I didn’t hear one off-key when Grace performed.  Incredible!

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Emma Keifer, Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen, was just a joy to watch.  I felt like I was watching an act from So You Think You Can Dance (and you all know what a freak I am about that show!!) Emma tapped.. up and down STAIRS.  Her energy was just OFF THE CHARTS.  Emma, you would’ve made Nigel proud!

And finally, though she wasn’t competing for a title, this performance was MY FAVORITE TALENT PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK..

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THE WATER CUPS DANCE.  Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2014 Morgan Holen, performing the same dance her mother Jodi did as Miss Nebraska 1988 at the Miss America pageant that year.  Balancing three cups of water on her hands and forehead, Morgan bent backward, forward, down into splits, up from splits… all without spilling a drop.  You could’ve heard a PIN drop in the auditorium, as hundreds of us collectively held our breath through this performance.  ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE..  just like Morgan.  Many of us shed tears as she took her final walk as our state titleholder.. mine started to fall as her proud daddy, Brad, handed her a bouquet of flowers at the bottom of the Miss Nebraska stage.  The sky is the limit for this young woman–you WILL see her again.

The Brittany Jeffers Awards for Super Awesomeness

We all have someone we just ADMIRE.. their style, their confidence, just because THEY ARE AWESOME.  Some of mine: one of my best friends Jenni Rohacik who always looks so good she could host E!, my neighbor Brittni Madden who can take a picture off Pinterest and make a project look like it cost thousands of dollars.. and my fellow anchor/reporter/forever Miss Omaha Brittany Jeffers-Hannema, who I swear is fabulous, in every way possible, 24/7.  (And now that I’ve declared my obsession with these ladies.. they may all be working on protection orders..) THESE GIRLS ARE JUST AWESOME!  Brittany gets the award named after her because she had to work rather than attend the Miss Nebraska pageant this year.. she may have been on air in Oklahoma, but her heart was in North Platte!

Two young ladies made a huge impression on me this year.. two teens who I didn’t know prior to this year’s pageant.

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Shelby Blundell, Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen, was the youngest and tiniest of ALL of this year’s contestants, Miss and Teen.  She was also Contestant #1 in the competition, a tough draw; you set the bar for the judges, you are the first contestant both that panel and the audience will see.  Shelby rose to the challenge, nailing her song in talent, and impressing the hell out of me during her on stage question.  Shelby was asked a very tough question, whether LGBTQ issues should be discussed at school in the classroom or in group/activity settings, or if those topics are best left for family and group discussion outside of school.  Without hesitation, tiny Shelby answered confidently and quickly, sharing her opinions without pause.  That’s a tough issue for politicians and public leaders to address, and often we see adults avoiding giving a clear answer.  This young woman tackled the issue head on, and agree with her or not, it was refreshing to see such a young person stand tall and share her opinion.

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I was also SO very impressed with Allison Baird, Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  For the second year in a row, Allison was named 1st Runner Up in the teen competition.  I’ve touched on this before.. as exhilarating as it is to hear your name called as a new titleholder.. it is incredibly disappointing when all of that work does not result in that win.  Allison’s now been through that twice.. coming ever so close both times.  BUT.. the moment that curtain closed after Steffany was crowned, when the spotlights were off and no one was watching her (except me, the nosy emcee/reporter backstage), Allison was the first one to smile and hug Steffany.  She was also the first to hug Morgan last year–and not just the cordial ‘arm around her, pat pat pat’ hug.. but a genuine embrace, wishing a friend well.  It’s the moments you think no one is looking when your true character is revealed.  Allison Baird is an exceptional young lady.  A gorgeous voice.  Mature and smart.  Beautiful.  And in those moments, when I can only imagine how her heart was breaking, she showed class and selflessness, to celebrate Steffany’s moment.  That’s something you don’t often see in adults, let alone a young woman just entering her senior year of high school.  Again, these competitions are not about choosing ‘who is the best’, but who is right for the position at that exact moment in time.  YOU ARE A WINNER, ALLISON.. your future is so very bright.

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So did you pick up on that ’emcee/reporter’ note?  I had the GREAT honor of co-emceeing this year’s Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant with this beauty, my final Awesomeness Award Winner, Jessica States!  A) She can sing REALLY well  B) She’s a born leader, holding a respected position with Junior Achievement of Lincoln  C) She was THE FIRST Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen in 2005!

AND, she was SUCH A GREAT co-host!!!  We had such a terrific time, and I hope the audience did, too!  (And thank you to Joe Bohac and the Black Swan Dress Boutique for providing our gorgeous gowns for the evening!)

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#MNOT2015.  Trending.

***

What a terrific, empowering week of incredible women and the people who support them.

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I enjoyed every single moment, and CAN’T WAIT until next year to do it all over again!  AND, I NEED to mention what these girls took away from Miss Nebraska (in addition to their own memories..)

MORE THAN $42,800 IN CASH AWARDS

AND MORE THAN $400,455 IN OFFERED COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS.

But hey, it’s just a silly scholarship pageant, right?

***

One final message to wrap up this post, and this year’s 2015 Miss Nebraska series..

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I was SO very honored and humbled to receive this year’s Miss Nebraska Volunteer of the Year Award.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of you who have read these blogs and offered your congratulations.  I’m still mystified and elated that so many people check in to read my work, and to receive such an incredible honor for it is just a thrill.  THANK YOU.

To all 24 of the young ladies who competed in North Platte, YOU EMPOWER ME. You are the future of our state, and our country, and that makes me so very proud.  CONGRATULATIONS Alyssa, Steffany, and every young woman taking a chance to set an example, be a role model, and to just SPARKLE.

No matter what you do next, crown or not, go out into the world and continue to ROAR.

***

 Click here to learn more about the Miss Nebraska Organization, and the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant.  You can also visit Miss Nebraska on Facebook, follow the pageant on Twitter, and follow the pageant on Instagram.

To read more about the Miss Nebraska, and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

Defining Outstanding

Once in awhile, you meet someone who you just KNOW is going to be a star.  There’s just something dazzling that radiates from them.  They are THAT stunning, THAT talented, THAT well spoken, THAT inspiring.  They are simply OUTSTANDING.

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MISS NEBRASKA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2014 MORGAN HOLEN

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

This is my 4th blog post I’ve written about Morgan.  I’m not a creeper (at least in this case), she’s just that incredible.  Beauty inspiring nationally renowned photographer Jenn Cady to invite Morgan to South Carolina for a premiere fashion show and photo shoot.  Talent and a gift for dance that earned Morgan a state championship this year with Elkhorn South High, the dance award at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, and acceptance and scholarship into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and Dance Program.

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Sheer kindness and love for life.. rooted deeply within her family and now woven across our entire state.

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What an outstanding young lady.  Like so many in the Miss Nebraska Organization, I first met Morgan through her mom, Jodi, who was Miss Nebraska 1988.

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Jodi, also a former Miss Omaha, was hands down one of the most welcoming, kindest people I met the night I was crowned Miss Douglas County and unknowingly entered this new and overwhelming world.  At her side, and then at MY side asking for pictures, were two sweet, little girls.

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Me and the Holen girls, shortly after the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County pageant, Fall 2001

Morgan has been attending the Miss Nebraska pageant with her mom for as long as she can remember.  She decided to compete in this new version of Miss America for teenagers, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, her freshman year of high school.  (Click here to read about Morgan’s time as Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen!) One year later, just weeks (if not days!) after completing her sophomore year at Elkhorn South, Morgan was crowned Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2014.

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Morgan’s crowning moment one year ago.  CLICK HERE to read more.

Immediately, Morgan began preparations for Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, knowing Nebraska had never cracked the Top 12 at the national level.  Morgan did.

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“I am extremely honored and humbled!” said Morgan.  “Then my competition mode just kicked in and I didn’t realize really what happened until it was over.  I competed in the first area, fitness, and made the cut to the Top 10 where I was able to perform my talent one more time.”

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As Morgan told me last summer, (click here to read more!), her talent was a self-choreographed tribute to her longtime dance instructor ‘Miss Kitty’ Dahlberg.  Dahlberg passed away the summer before Morgan won Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen.  Among those in the crowd was Dahlberg’s daughter and another of Morgan’s instructors, Diane Hansen.  This dance, dedicated to Morgan’s friend and mentor, was nothing short of breathtaking.  Watching the webcast from home, I was in tears.  Someone in the audience tweeted ‘Morgan Holen just set a new standard for talent.’

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“Then, after the evening gown competition, I was thrilled (and stunned) to be called out in the Top 5,” said Morgan.  “Outside of Teresa Scanlan, who has been a role model, no other Miss Nebraska or Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen had ever placed that high, so to be standing there representing my state was in incredible honor and an indescribable experience.”

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KETV: Omaha Teen Crowned Among Best In Country

Morgan finished 4th runner up, surrounded by a huge fan club who traveled to Orlando to support her, and the new friends she made while there.

“The friendships last long after the pageant,” said Morgan.  “My roommate Page Mackenzie (Miss Pennsylvania’s Outstanding Teen) and I have visited each other in our home states.  We bonded over the fact that by the time we left our hotel room, our feet could stick to the bathroom floor due to hairspray (pageant girl problems.)  We remain very good friends today and talk at least once a week.”

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“I also was very blessed to have the third or fourth largest crowd of supporters,” said Morgan.  “My parents, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, dance teacher, local and state directors, and Megan were all there to support me and of course, they were easy to spot since they help up big red Husker N’s.  There really is no way to represent Nebraska without the Huskers!  Other contestants even commented about it and were a little jealous.”

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As for the last 10 months.. Morgan has simply been on the go NONSTOP.  She’s on Elkhorn South’s state champion dance team, in addition to dancing competitively for Omaha’s Kitty Lee Dance; she’s also on the award-winning Elkhorn South competitive show choir squad.

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Still, she’s been out across the state as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, not only taking part in EVERY local pageant this year, but volunteering and making appearances for various events.  Morgan cares deeply about her platform Random Acts of Kindness, promoting good deeds and service to others, big and small.  Last January, Morgan even created a ‘kindness calendar’ and shared it across social media, suggesting something different every day of the month you could do to pass on a random act of kindness.

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Morgan volunteering with her big sister and best friend, Brittany Holen

“My one regret is that there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week!” said Morgan.  “As a teen, you are obviously still in high school and the girls who compete for and win these state titles are involved in many activities inside and outside of school.  I only wish I had been able to do more as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because there are many opportunities the title affords you, however, you still have to go to school and honor your other commitments.”

That’s part of the advice Morgan has for whoever she’ll crown in just five short days, Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015.

“To the next MNOT I would say do everything you can, but understand that some days there are just not enough hours in the day and that is okay,” said Morgan.  “I would also tell her to enjoy every minute because the year flies by and you will never have these moments back.  It will be an awesome experience!”

And still, Morgan shows me even now how exceptional she truly is.  As part of that message to her future MNOT sister, a reminder, and a sign of this young woman’s maturity, sense of self, and state of mind.

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(Photo courtesy of The Mullers)

“Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen did not make me who I am,” said Morgan.  “Lots of people have invested in me over my 17 years: parents, sister, family, friends, teachers, coaches, over the years shaped me into the person I am and for that I am grateful.”

Morgan asked me to note her gratitude to her local director Kelsey Joseph and her state directors Rachel Daly and Kayla Jacox, not only for what they have done for her, but for the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Program.

Morgan, I thank YOU.  Thank you for being KIND.  For sharing your incredible gift of dance.  For filling me with hope thinking of the young people that will soon be the adults in our world.  For showcasing our state and this program to people everywhere, and making them do double takes.  You are simply outstanding.

And I think Morgan’s own words confirm that:

“I hope that I have represented all of you in a way that made you proud.”

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(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

Click here for a special feature on Morgan on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

Click here for a special interview with Morgan by the nationally popular Pageant Junkies team!

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Merrilee Prill

NEXT.. Miss Nebraska 2014 Megan Swanson

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

Most Likely To Shine

When you look back at your years in high school, do you remember who won the senior superlatives in your class?  Most outgoing, best personality, most likely to succeed, most school spirit.

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In my class, one of the ‘superlative’ winners was my good friend Jake Ozanne, named Most Outgoing.  He could have also been coined ‘Most Popular’, ‘Most Inclusive’, ‘Most Welcoming’, or just “Mr. All American Monarch.”  Jake was a starting varsity football player, who also has a sensational voice and was one of the star’s of PLHS’s sold-out presentation of Grease.  He did it all and was friends with EVERYONE along the way, no matter what clique, group, or friendship circle you were part of.  PAPIO LOVED JAKE, and we still do.

Lincoln Southwest High arguably has SEVERAL contenders for the title.. THREE Silver Hawks will be competing this summer for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  One of these young ladies is the Queen of Superlatives.. because after my reporter research, I question if there is anything this beauty CAN’T do.

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MISS GERING’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 EMMA KEIFER

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

Emma is an actress, a singer, a competitive speaker, and a dancer.  She not only takes part in all of these activities at Lincoln Southwest High, she’s an award winner in many of them..

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The sophomore is a member of the top ranked Ambience competitive show choir, of which Emma posted on Facebook: “What a year with so many amazing people including these inspiring girls that I am blessed to call my best friends.”

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Emma is also an active member of Lincoln Southwest High’s theater program, named Freshman of the Year and cast in this year’s production of White Christmas, chosen to be part of the 2015 International Thespian Festival Showcase.

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Emma’s also a national speech qualifier and a member of the Lincoln Southwest Emeralds Dance team.

In case you had any doubts, I looked up ‘does it all’ with Merriam Webster and Emma’s picture accompanies the definition.  HOLY COW!  Still, she added to her resume this year, competing for and winning the title of Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen.

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Emma, alongside Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Allison Baird.  Emma posted on Facebook: “What a great way to start fall break!  A big congratulations to every girl who competed in teen and miss for achieving so much by getting on the stage and sharing God’s talents to the judges.”

Emma was crowned in early October, and despite her incredibly demanding activity schedule at school, Emma gave of her time as Miss Gering’s OT at least once every month, often times more.

In October..

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“Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eat! Had a great time collecting food cans with my school theatre troupe as Cruella De Vil! We collected over 2,100 pounds of food for the Lincoln Food Bank!”

In November..

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“I was able to meet with the president of the Lincoln Animal Ambassadors to donate to their Pet Food Bank.  I am so thankful to all my friends who helped me collect over 50 bags of cat and dog food during our Post Halloween Movie Night!”

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“I spent time with other volunteers wrapping over 600 presents for the non-profit Boxes of Love.  These presents have been presented to many different organizations and families throughout the holiday season and I was very happy to help!”

In December..

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“I was able to meet with over 50 girls at Scott Middle School in Lincoln to promote my platform, Girl Talk.  Each girl showed interest in growing in the three pillars of the organization, building self-esteem, learning leadership skills and the importance of community involvement!  Every Thursday I get to talk and mentor a group of the most talented, sweetest, inspiring and beautiful girls I have ever met at Girl Talk!  Everyone knows how hard Middle School can be so I am so happy to be the Girl Talk girls guide through life and their shoulder to lean on! Not only am I teaching them leadership skills, community involvement, and to be drama free, but they are teaching me and making me a better person!”

On to January..

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“Spent my night volunteering at the Alzheirmer’s Association Gala! I even got to model a prom dress for the Black Swan during the live auction.  I had such a fun time for such a great cause.”

Ending February..

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“I bet you can guess who is ecstatic for June!”

And just recently, in April..

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“I judged a prelim for the Cinderella Pageant. (I have never seen so many talented and adorable girls! It was so tough being on the other side.)  I packaged/prepared meals for Kids Against Hunger with Youth Leadership Lincoln.  I met with the wonderful Teresa Scanlan and discussed the future and importance of my platform.”

And in May, Emma turned 17.  Yea, Emma Keifer IS A SOPHOMORE; SHE JUST TURNED 17 YEARS OLD.

I am exhausted just reading all of this!  I’m also checking to see if Lincoln Southwest is sharing their secrets to success in teaching and training such outstanding young women. Each of the groups Emma belongs to, whether they be drama, choir, speech, or dance, may have a different superlative for Emma.  Who knows what title she could end up with in her senior yearbook.

Emma Keifer may capture a title long before that.  She’ll take the stage in North Platte in just two weeks, ready to compete for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

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(Photo courtesy Julie Carter Photography)

Follow Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Emma Keifer and contact her for appearances and events on the Miss Western Nebraska/Miss Gering Pageant on Facebook.

Click here to follow Emma’s platform, Girl Talk!, on Facebook.

Click here for a special profile on Emma posted on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

For more information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley by phone at 308-631-0938 or by email at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Chadron 2015 Tosha Skinner

NEXT.. Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Chelsea Arnold

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

Amazing Grace

As I talk to each of the young women competing to become Miss Nebraska or Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, I consistently hear about how much they appreciate the friendships and sisterhood that develop from these pageants.  Over the years, I’ve seen past competitors reconnecting long after Miss Nebraska is over, some even bridesmaids in each other’s weddings.  To me, it speaks volumes of this program, and of a young woman’s character when she is someone her fellow contestants want to be around before, during, and after the competition.

Today’s featured contestant seems to be a friend to everyone, on stage and off.

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MISS SCOTTS BLUFF COUNTY’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 GRACE HEGGEM

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“My favorite part of competition is probably the Talent portion, however, I love the ‘behind the scenes’ aspect even more!” Grace told me recently.  “I love competing because it is a fantastic opportunity to meet and get to know some amazing young women I would have otherwise never met!  I always know that no matter what the outcome of the pageant is, many of the friendships will last much longer than a title.”

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L-R: Grace with Miss Western Nebraska’s OT Allison Baird, ‘rocking out’ with Miss Douglas County’s OT Steffany Lien and Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s OT Merrilee Prill, and with Miss Omaha Megan Gould

Grace is also proud of the relationships she’s built in her hometown of Scottsbluff through activities both in and out of school.  The 15-year old at Scottsbluff High participates in Key Club, Choir, musical Orchestra, dance, and piano (which she’ll be play for her talent), in addition to competing in volleyball and track.

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“I love putting on gowns and heels and walking on a stage, however, I feel just as at home in my tennis shoes and sweats on a crowded bus before a volleyball game,” said Grace.  “I love that I can do both and still have a little extra time for some ballet shoes.”

Grace credits the small-town atmosphere of Scottsbluff for allowing her to be so easily involved, an environment that’s also inspired her personal platform, mentoring.

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“I love being a mentor to kids in my community because of the trusting, loving relationships it builds,” said Grace.  “I love picking them up and taking them out for ice cream or to the park where we can run around and play until we can’t run anymore!  Seeing the excitement in their eyes really leaves an impact on me as well.  If you just donate a couple of hours of your time every week to a child you see is in need, it really is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on their life.”

You certainly don’t need a crown to be a mentor (“Anyone can be a mentor!” said Grace).  So why compete in a pageant? Or, in the case of Grace, who also competed for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen last year, why CONTINUE to compete in pageants?  Grace says she was first intrigued by scholarships; in 2014, Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestants were awarded $2,900 in scholarships.  That number will increase to $3,600 this year.

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“I continue to compete not only for the scholarships but also because {pageants} build great life skills in general,” said Grace.  “Public speaking, poise and confidence are just a few of the very important traits this wonderful organization brings out in young women.  It is an honor to be a part of it and I hope to be for a long time!”‘

And based on pictures like this..

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    ..I think it’s safe to say her pageant sisters hope Grace Heggem is part of their lives for a long time, too.  These girls are still competitors for one stressful, non-stop week this June.  They NEED a friend like Grace Heggem;  relatable, down-to-earth, ‘fun and classic yet very relaxed’, as Grace described herself.

“Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined.” –Miss America Organization

GRACE.  Nebraska’s Grace is ready for North Platte.

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Follow Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Grace Heggem

on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Click here for a special feature on Grace on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page.

To contact Grace for appearances and events, and for more information about the Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant contact Cheryl Engelhaupt by phone at 308-783-2940 or by email at cengelhaupt@fnbnp.com.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. SPECIAL FEATURE: The Future of Miss Nebraska

NEXT.. Miss Panhandle 2015 Jessica Littlejohn

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

Just Add Glitter

We are only four contestants in to this year’s series profiling the 2015 Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestants, and I am already seeing a trend.. ENERGY.  Nonstop energy.
School. Activities. Volunteering. Leave when it’s dark, come home when it’s dark.  NEVER stop smiling.

Maybe it’s this 34-year old body.  Maybe it’s being a momma to two little boys who never stop running (and I thank God everyday for that.)  Maybe it’s because my Scooters mug is never quite full enough.  But I am exhausted FOR these girls; WHERE do they find their energy?

Case in point, today’s featured titleholder is participating in ten extra-curricular activities. TEN.

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MISS WESTERN NEBRASKA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 ALLISON BAIRD

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“I spend long days and evenings at {Gering High School} making sure every project is finished and every speech is practiced,” Allison told me recently.  “I’m lucky if I see my parents some days, and although it’s overwhelming I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I never feel like I’m spread too thin because nothing feels like work.”

Fun or not, Allison is involved in A LOT.  (Again, TEN different activities in and out of school!) She’s involved at church, in Cheer/Dance, Student Council, Key Club, Girls State (one of two selected to represent western Nebraska), Varsity Show Choir, Drama, Speech, she’s the editor-in-chief of the school paper, and recent national qualifier for DECA.

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How could this girl possibly fit one more thing in her schedule?  And why?

“The opportunity to be able to represent my favorite state at Miss America, the chance to grow as a person, meet new people and share my ideas is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Allison.  “I’m competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because I want to be able to expand what I’ve been able to do with my local title across the entire state.”

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When Allison was crowned Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, she didn’t just dream of big things, she immediately kicked off a plan to make big things happen.

“My platform is Digital Citizenship: Learning To Live Responsibly Online.  In an increasingly growing technology-using society, it’s naive to think we can get away from it,” said Allison.  “Sure, there are negative effects to use of internet, social media in particular, but rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, or fearing it, it’s time we embrace the use of technology by educating youth, teens and adults on how to ‘live’ online respectfully, responsibly and safely.”

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“Digital Citizenship isn’t only about recognizing and dealing with online hazards,” said Allison.  “{It’s} about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage your personal information and about being internet savvy, using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way and inspiring others to do the same.”

THIS is what Allison wants to talk about, and one of the reasons she says Interview is her favorite part of the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen competition.

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“I love how vulnerable this particular part of the competition is,” said Allison.  “It’s the one time that the judges get to see the real, raw me.  I can share the passions, goals and aspirations I have.  No rehearsal, no preparation, just me.  I love that.”

So who is Allison Baird at the end of the day?  When this high school junior closes her speech notes, puts away her crown, and adds another DECA trophy to her shelf, who is she really?

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“All of these activities have made me who I am today, but underneath everything, I’m still just a normal teenage girl,” said Allison.  “Netflix and sweatpants are my best friend on a free Saturday night (on the rare occasion there is one).”

I’ll have to disagree with Allison here.  Normal? No.  Exceptional? For sure.  Allison also competed for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen last year, and finished 1st Runner-Up.  Soon after, here’s what she posted on Facebook:

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“THIS is why I love pageants. The sisterhood is so strong. Win or lose, even after the crown is gone, these girls are forever.”

Graceful.  Positive.  EXCEPTIONAL.

“The Miss America Organization and the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen {pageant} specifically are empowering the women of our state and country’s future,” said Allison.  “{This is} a program that fosters scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement in the future leaders, the movers and shakers across the state of Nebraska.  Who wouldn’t want to support that?”

So maybe with Allison, and all of these girls, the question isn’t about energy, it’s about MAKEUP. No, not MAC or Sephora… young women like Allison Baird are made of GLITTER; they don’t buckle under pressure, they thrive on it.  They don’t crash, they fly.  They don’t sweat, they sparkle.  And Gering, Nebraska is sending a shining star to North Platte.

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Follow Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Allison Baird

on Instagram, and on Twitter.

Click here for a special profile on Allison posted on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

To contact Allison for appearances and events, please visit the Miss Western Nebraska/Miss Gering Pageant on Facebook.

For more information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley by phone at 308-631-0938 or by email at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Marie Kliewer

NEXT.. **SPECIAL FEATURE** The Future of Miss Nebraska

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

Special Feature, Nebraska’s Outstanding Teens

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” — Maya Angelou

Yup.  I posted that.

I apologize for the language, but I think Ms. Angelou is pretty accurate with her assessment.  And if one of America’s most respected authors/poets wants to swear, who I am to change her quote??

Now, meet the young women taking charge and living these words.

all the teens wo chelsea all the teens wo morgan

The 9 ladies competing for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teenager.

This relatively new honor is the sister-organization of Miss America.  Women competing for Miss America must be at least a senior in high school, and may range in age from 17-24 years old.  Miss America’s Outstanding Teen allows girls ranging in age from 12-17 (in some cases, 18) to participate as well.  Just like their ‘Miss’ counterparts, these young ladies compete in talent, evening gown, interview, and a modified fitness portion (no swimsuits, instead a choreographed routine to display health.)

Today, in a special feature, meet the nine teenagers from across the state hoping to become Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  Several of these young ladies were eager to share a little more about themselves as they prepare for North Platte!

***

BreaHanna Harlow

Alliance, BreaHanna Harlow

BreaHanna is 16, from Scottsbluff, attending Leyton High School.

“I’m competing because I love teaching others the struggles underprivileged students go through,” said BreaHanna.  “I believe that if you can convince one person, you can convince the world.”

BreaHanna is a cheerleader at Leyton High, works at the Buckle, and says she really enjoys the comfort of her family.

“Pageants have taught me that beauty isn’t everything,” said BreaHanna.  “All you need in pageants and in life overall is a great personality and knowledge about the future and past.  My motto is always believe there’s a better solution to everything and that all you need is support.”

Click here to learn more about the Miss Alliance’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

Allie Boggs

Chadron, Allie Boggs

Allie is 16, from Gering, attending Gering High School.

Her Facebook page is loaded with pictures showing Allie participating in Cheer/Dance at school, including District competitions.

Senior pictures also show off Allie’s love for dance, especially ballet.

Allie also competed last year at the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant.

Click here to learn more about the Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

Shelbe Stroh

Crane Watch, Shelbe Stroh

Shelbe is 15, from Elkhorn, a freshman at Elkhorn South High School.

“School has been my number one priority,” Shelbe told me.  “I have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my first year of high school, I am a member of Elkhorn South student council as well as DECA, FCCLA, and SADD.  I play soccer and plan to play volleyball for the school in the fall.”

Shelbe also volunteers in the Omaha metro area, helping the homeless and near homeless.

“I [spend] my time at the Open Door Mission serving dinner and working with the youth in the Lydia House,” said Shelbe.  “I also volunteered at the Special Olympics bowling games.”

In what little free time she has, Shelbe says she enjoys poetry, finding new songs for her playlist, hitting the gym, and adding to the ‘tie-dye and hipster fashion’ collages in her bedroom.

“Pageants have allowed me to improve my leadership, communication and thinking skills,” said Shelbe.  “I have grown as a person, for I have tested my strength in mind and body.  I love the gratification that comes along with success.  Each day, I strive to improve myself and feed off failure to obtain success.”

Click here to learn more about the Miss Crane Festival’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

Caylen Calderon

Gering, Caylen Calderon

Caylen is from Scottsbluff and attends Scottsbluff High School where she plays volleyball and is a member of the choir

Browse through Caylen’s photos and one thing is clear–she LOVES being a sister.

Family and friends are a definite priority for this young lady.  They were by her side as she was crowned Gering’s Outstanding Teen, and no doubt they will be cheering her on in North Platte!

Click here to learn more about the Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

chelsea Arnold

Northwest, Chelsea Arnold

Chelsea is 16 from Crete.  She attends school at… well, that’s part of Chelsea’s story and her personal platform, ‘The Importance of Individualized Education’.

“My primary goal is to help students reach their full academic potential by exposing them to different models of learning,” Chelsea told me recently.  “Whether in a traditional school, home school or as an online student, it’s important to explore differing learning styles and resources.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ or standard education.  Every individual learns differently and I am passionate about exposing people to new ideas.”

Chelsea has attended private, public and charter schools in Florida, California and Nebraska.  She says the traditional classroom didn’t work for her.

“I left traditional school nearly halfway through my sophomore year and took up classes full time through the University of Nebraska High School online,” said Chelsea.  “I couldn’t be happier with the education I’m getting right now and I want every student to have that feeling!”

Chelsea said her new schedule allows her more time to pursue other passions including theater, singing and modeling.  Chelsea recently appeared on the cover of Oriental Trading Company’s catalog.  She also volunteers in her free time.

“When Children’s Hospital would like to have a craft hour or needs someone to man the phones for a telethon, I can be there!” said Chelsea.  “I call Bingo twice a week at Tabitha Nursing Center as well.”

Chelsea will stay busy until the day she arrives in North Platte; she is currently on a 3-week cruise to Alaska via Vancouver, Canada!

Click here to learn more about the Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

Morgan Holen

Omaha, Morgan Holen

Morgan is 16, from Omaha, attending Elkhorn South High School (the Storm will be well represented at Miss Nebraska!)

Morgan is following in some beautiful footsteps; her mom, Jodi, was Miss Nebraska 1988.  Just like her mother, Morgan has a passion for dance.

“I have been dancing for 13 years and dance roughly 18-20 hours a week both for my school dance team and for my competitive dance team, Kitty Lee Dance,” Morgan told me a in a recent interview.

Morgan says one of her favorite things about being Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen is volunteering.

“With my title I have been able to volunteer for activities like IHOP National Pancake Day, Race to 50K, and the telethon through Children’s Miracle Network,” said Morgan.  “My favorite activity is sponsoring craft hour at Children’s Hospital.”

Morgan is also spreading word about her personal platform of service, ‘Random Acts of Kindness’.

“Many of us have heard about the person who paid for the car behind them at Burger King or Starbucks, but random acts of kindness don’t require money,” said Morgan.  “Each one of us has the ability to make a difference in someone’s life every day.”

Morgan also encourages all young ladies to think about participating in Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program.

“I believe whole-heartedly in the Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organizations and would strongly recommend any teenage girl to be a part of it,” said Morgan.  “This organization not only provides scholarships, but also encourages poise, confidence and service.  I have seen contestants gain success on and off stage no matter where they placed in the pageant.  The experience gained is valuable for all who participate.”

Click here to learn more about the Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

Alexis McGlone

Panhandle, Alexis McGlone

Alexis is 15, from Mitchell, Neb., attending Mitchell High School where she is a member of the show choir, volleyball team and the cheerleading squad.

Her photos on Facebook show a VERY busy young lady, climbing mountains, participating at Maranatha Bible Camp, even taking part in flour fights!

Alexis has also competed in the Miss America system before, and has many photos alongside girls she’s competing with.

With only a few weeks to go before the state pageant, Alexis is getting ready, singing in front of crowds at her school.  As one friend commented, ‘great practice for the pageant!’

Click here to learn more about the Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen program.

***

Allison Baird

Scotts Bluff County, Allison Baird

Allison is 16, from Gering, Neb., attending Gering High School. (The Bull Dogs will also have two contestants competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen!)

Allison, or ‘Allie’ is active in drama at her school, recently starring in the musical Cinderella.  She’s also on the dance/cheer team, and part of the state runner-up speech team at Gering.

Allie is also a member of the show choir.  If her albums on Facebook are any indication, she is a VERY busy young lady, constantly smiling and surrounded by friends!

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Grace Heggem

Western Nebraska, Grace Heggem

Grace is this year’s youngest competitor, just 14 years old.  She is from Scottsbluff and attends Community Christian School.

“I’m doing this pageant because I’m excited to improve my speaking skills and I think it greatly helps in improving maturity,” Grace told me recently.  “I also, of course, am looking forward to making lots of memories with some amazing girls.”

Grace says she loves to play the piano.  She is using her year as Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen to spread awareness of her personal platform of service, mentoring.

Grace has been on the honor roll multiple times at Community Christian School, maintaining an A average throughout her 7th grade year.

She also runs track, finishing as a top competitor in the 200 meter run in her division.

Click here to learn more about the Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program.

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Each of these young ladies will at some point probably talk, laugh and take photos with THIS young lady..

samantha

Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2013, Samantha Washington

One year ago, this teenager was just like all of the girls you just read about; working hard in school, practicing to be a better singer and dancer, and volunteering to make her community a better place.  All of those qualities helped Samantha earn the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

samantha 2

She summed up her year of service in a post on the Miss NE OT Facebook page in January.

Hi everybody! I just wanted to share a picture that sums up my whole year. 2013 has been a year to remember. It’s been a year of change. for one, I started out 2013 being 5’3″ tall…I am now 5’7.5″ and of course… I’m 15 years old. But I’ve really changed as a person over the year. When receiving the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, I was a little nervous. 15 years old, still very immature, going into my sophomore year of high school and just awkward. But having this title has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me (as you can see from the picture below) I’ve met so many friends, new family members (the MNOT crew), tried new things. And grew…physically and as a person. Not too long after the pageant I had found out that my friend had committed suicide. Which forced me to mature to the best of my ability. While at nationals, I and the other 51 girls talked for hours where I brought up the passing of my friend. Those 51 girls helped me realize that no matter what you’re going through, you’re never going through it alone. Something I soon said to my friends back home. This organization helped me see that no matter where I go or what I do in life, as time goes on you meet people who change your life, your legs may grow, your feet may grow, your arms may grow, but most importantly, your heart WILL grow to make room for your growing inventory of lessons, family, advice, friends, kind words and everything that you receive over your travels.  Thank you so much everybody for helping me grow (:
 
sam

WHO WILL BE NEXT?

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Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2014 will be crowned June 7, 2014 in North Platte.

For more information, check out the organization online or on Facebook.

You can also follow the organization on Twitter.

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