Tag Archive | chelsea arnold

The Meaning Of Life

Guys, I’m pooped.  Not enough coffee in my house and not enough creativity in my head.  I’ve been sitting here, grasping for inspiration, and a moment outside caught my attention.. a little boy doing backflips on his trampoline.  Do you remember that?  Boundless energy.  No fear.  The adrenaline rush of trying something like a flip and boom–just doing it.  That little guy isn’t thinking about everything on his to-do list, or how nice a nap sounds right now.. he is enjoying every second of springing backward without a care in the world.

As adults, we take every moment for granted.  We don’t just jump.. we dwell on all of the reasons why we can’t; we don’t have time, we should be working, we could get hurt. But then I see things like this:

At 10:10 am on March 3, 2017, in his mamma’s arms, Trucker took his last breath here and went home to be with Jesus.💔💔💔  We prayed that his passing (and I say passing because we have hope of seeing him again in Heaven) would be peaceful, not painful and with ohana there.

This brave child, just 3 years old, died Friday after a valiant battle with cancer.  This morning, I just stared at my boys for a few seconds.  How do I ever take for granted each precious second God has given me with them? How do I think of anything but how blessed we are that we have two happy, healthy boys?

The simple answer is.. because we subconsciously have an ‘invincible’ mentality.  ‘This is so sad.. but it could never happen to me.’  We get busy with work and drama and what we think is so important, and we forget the everyday beauty that life truly is all about.  Even after 15 years of covering terrible things that DID happen to us, right here in Nebraska.. it takes moments like this to wake me up. To remind me to celebrate everything special we have and to never, ever assume the next day will happen.

“Life is too short to go one second without a smile,” I heard recently. “Whether I am having the most stressful day of my life or I am having one of the most exciting days of my life I always remember to stay positive and smile through it all.”

Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs

Krista is a brand new titleholder in the Miss Nebraska Organization, showcasing her own ‘live for the moment’ mantra when she signed up to compete for Miss Kool-Aid Days last summer.

“Before 2016 I don’t think I could ever picture myself gliding across a stage in a formal gown or speaking in front of hundreds people,” said Krista.  “One of my close friends, Chelsea Arnold (Miss Kool-Aid Days 2016, click here to read more) asked me if I would be interested in participating.  I always followed her journey and I thought it looked like an amazing experience.  I told myself to just go for it and see what would happen.  I was overjoyed to hear my name called as the new titleholder and it is a moment I will never forget.”

And since that night, Krista has graciously accepted and embraced every life experience that crown and sash have offered her.

“In the past few months I have had the opportunity to go to parades and perform, speak to schools about my platform and participate in so many fun events that I will cherish forever,” said Krista.  “I have been able to volunteer throughout my community and help others in need and find out more about how others live around me.  I have learned so much about communicating with others and being able to stand up in front of others and express what is important to me.  The Miss Nebraska [program] has given me more confidence than I knew I was capable of.”

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Krista’s Miss Kool-Aid Days winter newsletter

Krista also knows the impact she can have on children who view her as nothing less than royalty every time she enters a classroom.  She’s used that exposure to teach kids a lesson that will be important now and long after her pageant days are done.

“My platform is Distracted Driving,” said Krista.  “[This] affects all ages and everyone has a voice when it comes to protecting the ones we love.  It is important for older ages to be informed on the dangers they have on others if they are driving while distracted.  It is also important for younger ages to understand that even though they are not driving they can always remind their parents or older siblings that they love them and they want everyone to arrive at the destination safely.”

Krista does all of this; speaking at schools, volunteering at events and advocating for important causes, while studying at Midland University, where she’s majoring in Psychology and Art Management and performing for the school’s award winning dance squad.

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“I always remember to set goals for myself and push myself to achieve my goals one step at a time,” said Krista.  “Whether its working towards a first place award at a dance competition, achieving a high GPA or going for Miss Nebraska, everything comes in steps and each step will bring me closer to achieving my dreams.  While balancing school, dance team, family, friends and pageant events I have learned to make the balance equal between all of these activities so I can be the best I can be in each area.”

This young woman is making the most of every day, filling her life with meaningful moments while appreciating every person and experience.  Much of that she credits to self determination, compassion for others and positivity.. traits she hopes to impress upon others throughout this special year.

“I love taking any opportunity I can get to be a role model for others,” said Krista.  “This organization has allowed me to serve in a way where younger girls can look up to me and I can offer them words of encouragement and allow them to believe in themselves.”

Krista’s goals: she wants to take the feedback she receives competing and use that to improve as a person, while also supporting her fellow contestants in anyway she can. She wants to raise as much money as possible for the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals, money that goes straight to our local hospitals and doctors finding ways to save little boys like Trucker.  (To date, she’s raised $1857) To everyone who meets Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs, whether it be a little girl at a parade or a someone simply looking for inspiration, she offers a reminder to live in the now and to be grateful for every minute.

“I would be honored and thrilled if I was crowned the next Miss Nebraska,” said Krista.  “I also hope to always continue to be a role model to others throughout my life and be there for others whenever they may need me.  My final goal is to always be happy and positive and enjoy every moment of this amazing experience.”

My sincere condolences to those who loved Trucker Dukes, especially his mom and dad.  My heart is broken for you, and your sweet boy is in my prayers.

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To follow Miss Kool-Aid Days 2017 Krista Hinrichs on Facebook, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Miss Kool-Aid Days Pageant or to become a contestant, CLICK HERE to visit their website, or CLICK HERE to visit their site on Facebook.  You can also emails Directors Angie Trausch at angie.trausch@gmail.com or Angela Keiser at angelakeiser@gmail.com.

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The Miss Nebraska Pageant takes place June 7-10 in North Platte, Nebraska.

CLICK HERE for more details, HERE to follow on Twitter, HERE to follow on Facebook.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Eastern Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Naomi Turner

NEXT.. Miss Metro’s Outstanding Teen 2017 Jamie Chen

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2014-2016 click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Good Work

So I’ve mentioned I want to write a book..

So very many of the stories I’ve covered are inspiring, emotional and powerful… often because they reflect something incredibly positive, born out of something terrible and tragic.

January 5, 2011.  I was 8 months pregnant, sluggish and FOREVER late.  That day I was running behind as usual, hoping to stop at Subway on my way to work.  I was at the stoplight at 144th and Q and one, then two, then three Omaha Police cruisers flew past me with lights and sirens blaring.  I called the KETV assignment desk to let them know something was going on, and my managing editor, Jim Reding, responded, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a shooting at Millard South, we need you here right away.’

I immediately turned my car around and sped to KETV as quickly as I could.  Within minutes, I was on the anchor desk and on air, sharing what we knew with our viewers. A young man had walked into the front office and opened fire, shooting two principals.  One of them was dead, another was critically hurt.  The teenager drove a few miles away, then shot and killed himself.

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Millard South student Kyler Erickson heard and saw it all.  He hid in a bathroom, called 911, and waited.  No one should be witness to a nightmare like this; Kyler was as a teenager.  Still, he refused to let that horror take him down, despite the nightmares and grief that followed.  With therapy and sheer inner strength, Kyler healed emotionally and grew physically, attending the University of Nebraska Omaha to play Division 1 Basketball.  He began to share his story, meeting with everyone from veterans suffering from PTSD to other students.  This year, Kyler was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team, recognized at the 2016 Final Four tournament, one of only five student athletes nationwide.  This dude is simply AWESOME.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Kyler’s incredible journey from KETV’s Matt Lothrop.

Kyler’s loved ones are among those most proud of this young man, including his longtime friends from Millard South…

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..friends who were there in full force at Kyler’s final game with UNO.  The girl in the beige and black sweater is LaRissa McKean.

“He’s so inspiring,” LaRissa told me recently.  She too was at Millard South that day, in AP Economics class.  And much like her friend Kyler, she’s devoted much of her time and focus on simply trying to make the world a better place.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“The best compliment I received was from a sorority sister.  She anonymously left me a note saying ‘you make people feel good about themselves,'” said LaRissa.  “That statement is what motivates me daily to make an impact on someone’s life.”

I first met LaRissa last summer at the Miss Nebraska Pageant; she left her mark on most, if not all of the audience and her fellow contestants.  This girl is SHEER JOY.. she lights up a room with her smile and personality, and radiates energy and glee the second she steps on stage. LaRissa was also voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants.

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That beautiful smile shows LaRissa’s inner spirit… but so does THIS.

Hilarious.  Carefree.  So many women in pageants, business and LIFE are afraid to let their guard down, so afraid of what people will think about them.  LaRissa knows who she is and OWNS it.  You can just tell she LOVES life, and everyone around her smiles and lets THEIR guard down because of it.

LaRissa will compete at Miss Nebraska again this year as Miss Gering 2016.  Her personal platform of service is called ‘Feel The Difference: Empowerment Through Communication.’

“[It’s] based on Maya Angelou’s quote, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’  I will leave a legacy where I make people feel inspired and willing to take the act of listening through conversation to better the lives around them.”

LaRissa has all kinds of opportunities to communicate.. the girl is surrounded by people CONSTANTLY.  A University of Kansas graduate specialized in Accounting and Human Resources, LaRissa currently works three jobs; she’s a Head Instructor of summer high school/college dance camps with Universal Dance Association, she’s a full-time educator with Lululemon, and she’s a substitute paraprofessional in the district where she grew up, Millard Public Schools.  She volunteers every week with local 4th graders, helping them catch up on homework and answering questions.  LaRissa also takes part frequently at charity events, doing what she can to help as Miss Gering.

THEN.. there’s dance, a constant in LaRissa’s life for many years.

“I have judged the State Dance Competition for the last three years along with other local high school competitions and college regional competitions for the NAIA Nationals,” said LaRissa, who learned at and competed with Kitty Lee Dance, a place she still practices and volunteers.  “One of my biggest role models was Miss Kitty.  Not only did she instill my love for dance, she taught me to be stronger and never think you can’t improve.  She raised me in the studio and I can’t thank her enough for whacking my leg with a ruler to get my knees straight.  She was the first one to correct me in every dance class but also the first to congratulate me on a performance well done.  Even with her gone, I know she is watching every class and performance, smiling that her passion lives inside of me.”

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Talent is LaRissa’s favorite part of the Miss Nebraska Pageant; she plans to combine her love of comedy and dance to present a musical theater piece with ‘an element of surprise’ this year.

“Not only does [talent] set our system apart from others, it is truly beautiful to see all the contestants show their art to the world,” said LaRissa.  “I love watching the contestants light up the floor with their interests and show a piece of themselves to everyone.  The emotion that can be portrayed in 90 seconds gives me goosebumps and really shows the uniqueness of every competitor.”

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That’s one of the things LaRissa hopes to share with pageant naysayers.. to learn more about the women who take part before forming an opinion.

“I remember going to pageants as a young girl and telling my mom I couldn’t wait to be as pretty or as talented as the women that compete for Miss Nebraska,” said LaRissa.  “The majority of people who compete are varsity athletes in their schools, Honor Roll recipients, and leaders in their community.  They are some of the most respected people and receive more credit for being mentors to people all across the nation.”

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LaRissa adds that every woman she knows who’s taken part in this system has made a difference in someone’s life.. and that she became a leader because of it.  She describes the title of Miss Nebraska as a job she’s applying for that could give her a year of memories she can only imagine.  BUT.. in the swirl of glamour and costumes and performances, LaRissa hasn’t lost focus of her values and priorities; her family, including grandparents Pampy and Nana who she spends several hours with every week.  Education, through both mentoring students and planning ahead to obtain a Masters Degree.  Love, and her love of people.. simply spending time with those who matter most, friends like Kyler Erickson.

No one would have faulted Kyler for never talking about that day again, for withdrawing from everything to process what happened, for moving thousands of miles away from Omaha to escape everything and start fresh.  Instead, this guy confronted his demons, defeated them, then stayed and shared his journey to help others still battling.  LaRissa McKean’s story doesn’t stem from tragedy and horror but is inspiring nonetheless.. a young woman using her gifts and positive attitude to simply do good work in our world.

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Photo courtesy  Loren C Winkler Images

“At the end of the day, I look in the mirror, washing off my makeup and think it would be amazing to be Miss Nebraska 2016, but I would rather be known as LaRissa who became Miss Nebraska because of the person I am,” said LaRissa.  “I’m an honest person, who gives my opinion respectively.  I won’t change my values or morals because of a title, I will continue to grow and live a life I treasure.  At the end of the day, I will still be LaRissa McKean forever.”

I think they call this perspective.  Maybe it’s what she saw Kyler go through.  Maybe it’s been the lesser challenges she, like the rest of us, go through.  No matter where the drive comes from.. imagine what life could be like if we all strived to do good work to help each other, and in turn, found peace and joy within ourselves.

Kyler Erickson is available to speak at events; CLICK HERE for details and to learn more about his story.

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Click on each link below to follow Miss Gering 2016 LaRissa McKean

on FACEBOOK and on INSTAGRAM.  You an also email LaRissa for appearances and events at larissamckean@gmail.com.

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LaRISSA?

2015 * Sleepless Beauty

For more information about the Miss Gering/Miss Western Nebraska Pageant, CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Heather Hayes by phone at 307-340-0601, or by email at Heather.Hayes@chartercom.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Ashlynn Haun!

NEXT.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Shaniah Freeseman!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

All The World’s A Stage

I am currently experiencing a CRAZY sense of deja vu..

This week, I’m back on stage at Papillion-La Vista High School for the first time in 17 years, as a special guest in Monarch Theatre’s production of Legally Blonde the Musical.

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The choir room in this picture.. the theater filled with maroon seats.. the green room where the cast gets ready each night.. it’s all SACRED GROUND to me.  It was my home away from home while I was in high school, where I took part in plays and performances, formed my dearest friendships, and created art that I was so very proud to showcase to our community.  There was something intoxicating about theater to me.. the thrill of seeing your name on a casting sheet, the adrenaline rush when the curtain goes up, the sheer GLEE of hearing the audience applaud at the end.

Many of my fellow ‘drama nerds’ channeled that love into our current careers: my friend Joe Rohacik now teaches at PLHS, where he is also the PA announcer for the entire district.  My friend David Wenzel is now a motivational speaker booked around the country for events (CLICK HERE to read his incredible story!)  My ‘green room’ is now the KETV newsroom, and my stage is 7 Burlington Station.

For others.. performing is simply what they were destined to do.  My fellow classmates Audrey Billings and Leanne Hill-Carlson are now professional actresses in Chicago and here in Omaha.  Monarch alumni Merle Dandridge and Abbie Cobb are now on national TV, starring in shows ranging from HBO to ABC.

Tyler Rambali is somewhere in between.. constantly learning new skills to teach future performers, while fine-tuning her own talents and seeking out opportunities to perform.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“I love to sing and act!” Tyler told me recently, and backed that up with an impressive resume of work, including awards with her trio, Major minor 3.

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“[We] competed in the Galaxy of Stars competition this last summer and the summer before,” said Tyler (CLICK HERE to link up to Major minor 3’s Facebook page to watch and listen to them sing!).  The group won a slew of honors their first year and the Megastar Award last summer, earning a recording session as their prize.  Tyler walked away with an additional bonus.

“That is where I met Chelsea Arnold (Miss Kool-Aid Days) and her mother, Paige, who first talked to me about competing in the Miss America system,” said Tyler.

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Tyler was crowned Miss Chadron last fall, opening up the doors for more performance opportunities across the state… not that she needs them.  She’s starred in Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense, Lettice and Lovageas, Defying Gravity, and currently, she’s the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

Tyler takes on these roles in addition to classes at McCook Community College where she is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Phi Beta Lambda, the National Association for Music Educators and Not Your Average Theatre Group.  Now as Miss Chadron, she’s also making appearances and often, trying to promote change with her personal platform ‘Reach Out and Read’.

  “Reading has become one of the least important things to my generation,” said Tyler.  “Reach Out and Read is an evidence-based nonprofit organization of medical providers who promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by integrating children’s books and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud [during] well-child visits.  I am trying to expand on this by connecting it to Children’s Miracle Network: reading to the children there, giving them books and teaching them the importance as well.  I also want to start a Reach Out and Read site in my hometown of McCook!”

It’s the part of pageants that doesn’t end up on reality TV, the service and networking opportunities that open up for these titleholders.  THAT is part of what Tyler, a pageant newcomer, hopes to show with her new title.

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Tyler painted this to symbolize her new adventure competing for Miss Nebraska.

“I wanted to try something new, and on top of that, I had a chance to make my voice heard, make a difference, and be apart of something really special,” said Tyler.  “Miss America celebrates women and empowers them and their abilities and accomplishments.  It’s purpose is to serve others, show your personal style and what you can bring to the table, provide scholarships, and help you to be successful, and that is what it has done for me!”

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Tyler also stresses the friendships she’s already made, adding to circle of loved ones she describes as the most important in her life.

“I have a huge family (over 20 first cousins on one side!),” said Tyler.  “Both of my parents served in the US Army (Dad for 20 and Mom for 7) and my brother leaves for basic training in the Navy in May, but I am so proud of him and his endeavors to be a Navy Air Rescue swimmer.  My faith in God is the BIGGEST thing in my life, and it is the only way I will be able to let my brother go off to the military.”

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Tyler adds that her mother is also one of her role models, teaching her at home from Kindergarten through her senior year.. a tie Tyler compares to ANOTHER of her role models, Miss Nebraska and then Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.

“She has so much in common with me,” said Tyler.  “She loves to sing and act and she was home schooled.  It gives me encouragement and I know that I can do anything I can set my mind to.”

For anyone at a Nebraska high school right now, dreaming of someday being on a big time stage or on that screen in front of millions.. just LOOK at the incredible talent coming out of our state.  Omaha native Gabrielle Union.  North Bend native Marg Helgenberger.  Norfolk native Johnny Carson.

Tyler Rambali not only wants to follow their lead, she wants to be CAST as the lead in this incredible production called ‘life’.. and she’s ready to call Act I: ‘Becoming Miss Nebraska.’

“I feel that I am an extremely diverse person who can relate to so many people because I have so many different backgrounds: I am biracial, military, city girl, country girl, stage-fright-girl-turned-performer, and so much more!” said Tyler.  “I have been placed where I am, in the position I am for a reason, and I will do my very best to not squander the opportunities that God has given me to be a light for HIM.”

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Photo courtesy Chris Swasta

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CLICK HERE to follow Miss Chadron 2016 Tyler Rambali on FACEBOOK

For more information about the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest/Miss Fur Trade Days Pageant, visit their FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Directors Caitlin Rodiek and Sara Smith by email at misscnwdirectors@gmail.com.  You can also contact Caitlin Rodiek by phone at 308-207-0336.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Courtney Pelland!

NEXT.. Miss Heartland 2016 Tosha Skinner!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Top Of The Class

What do you think of when you hear the word SCHOOL?

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This?

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This?

Maybe even this?

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(Disclaimer.. this is actually what I first thought of about the word ‘school’.. getting totally, embarassingly defeated at something.  Morpheus and the Matrix were just an added bonus that made me laugh..)

WELL.. now that I’ve hit my NERD quota for 2016, I’ll get to my point… SCHOOL.  The word, and the issue, are anything BUT simply defined these days.  College education is highly debated issue in the current presidential campaign.  School bond issues are often top stories in our newscasts.  Just within the last few weeks, charter schools again resurfaced as a hot topic in Nebraska. (Click here to learn more about the new statewide initiative in reporter Kristyna Engdahl’s story on KETV.)

However you want to define school, Miss Kool-Aid Days 2016 Chelsea Arnold is willing to listen.

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Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“Even before my involvement in the Miss America Organization, I was very vocal about how important it is for students to individualize their education plans,” Chelsea told me recently.  “I’ve been a student at many different kinds of schools (charter, online, public, home, private) and have witnessed firsthand how important it is to be an advocate for your own education.”

That message has also been Chelsea’s personal platform of service, both as a teen titleholder (click here to read more!) and now as Miss Kool-Aid Days 2016.  She says ‘The 4 Learning Languages’ focuses on the four main types of learning and teaching study habits.  Working with students of all ages is a passion for Chelsea, who also volunteers with the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals, including Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Travelling to Omaha is no big deal for the Lincoln Southwest senior; she’s visited 48 of our 50 states (one of those trips–an Alaskan cruise right before Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen two years ago, click here to read more!).  In addition to being a student and MAO titleholder, Chelsea also models for clients like the Omaha Bridal Fair and Oriental Trading Company.

Still, Nebraska is where the Crete native wants to be, planning to attend the University of Nebraska – Lincoln next fall to double major in broadcasting and communications, inspired and humbled by her own family.

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Her grandfather, Wayne Drummond, is the Emeritus Dean and a Professor of Architecture at UNL with nearly 40 years of professional and academic experience.

“My role model is my grandfather, ‘Poppy’,” said Chelsea.  “I have never met anyone who has been so successful in their chosen profession while still making their family their number one priority.  I admire his patience, kindness, and integrity.  He has told me many times, ‘always be honest and do what is right,’ and I hope to be as successful in my career as he has been following that mantra!”

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 Chelsea’s mom has also had a huge impact; as a former Miss Alabama contestant, she introduced her daughter to the Miss America Organization.

“I love to sing and it was an opportunity to be on stage,” said Chelsea.  “I have benefited from the Miss Nebraska Organization more than I could ever put into words.  It has truly pushed me to be the best version of myself, and I will always be thankful for that.”

And to those who criticize the Miss America Organization or pageantry in general, Chelsea Arnold has a quick lesson..

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This..

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This.. and this.

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“It is SO much more than what [we’re] saying on stage,” said Chelsea.  “It is not about objectifying women, physical appearance, or hairspray.  It’s about women who are given a platform to speak their mind and further their education and careers.  Getting that many successful women in one place in incredibly empowering.”

THIS is the class Chelsea Arnold is a part of right now.. the Miss Nebraska Pageant Class of 2016.  She wants to take what she’s learned as Miss Kool-Aid Days and educate others as she moves forward, hoping to visit schools of all kinds with a new title: Miss Nebraska 2016.

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Photo courtesy Ali Marie Photography

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CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Kool-Aid Days 2016 Chelsea Arnold

on FACEBOOK, on TWITTER, on INSTAGRAM

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHELSEA?

CLICK HERE * 2015 * A Beauty Queen’s Bucket List

CLICK HERE * 2014 * Nebraska’s Outstanding Teens

For more information about the Miss Kool-Aid Days Scholarship Pageant, visit THEIR WEBSITE or  FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Angie Trausch at (402) 984-2690 or angie.trausch@gmail.com, or contact Director Angela Keiser at (402) 578-8621 or angelakeiser@gmail.com.

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The 2016 Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant takes place June 8-11 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

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PREVIOUS.. Special Feature, Miss Nebraska USA 2016 Sarah Hollins!

NEXT.. Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Grace Heggem!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Big Things Come In Little Packages

Earlier, I posted about an upcoming volleyball tournament I’m taking part in this weekend for my family member and friend, Missy and her husband Kyle.  Kyle has battled Crohn’s Disease for 15 years, so this weekend, we are hammering Crohn’s for him and hopefully, raising money for the Frans family and their mounting medical bills.  (Click here to read more about Kyle’s fight and how you can help in the battle against Crohn’s!)

I am NOT good at volleyball.  It’s not for a lack of trying.. I played rec volleyball throughout junior high.  I couldn’t spike, or set, or serve overhand… but I was never afraid to dive for a ball!  At the end of one season, my coach gave a short speech on each of us when we got our medals, and when it was my turn, he said ‘big things come in little packages.’

THAT, is what comes to mind the more I learn about a promising young lady from Chadron, Nebraska.

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MISS CHADRON’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 SHELBY BLUNDELL

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“I am Shelby Blundell.  I am the shortest girl in my grade,” Shelby told me, turning 14 just last weekend.  That height stat may make Shelby memorable in this year’s Miss Nebraska Outstanding Teen class, but it certainly doesn’t define her.

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Shelby, shortly after winning her local title, alongside Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2014 Morgan Holen

“I’m competing for the life skills that I am sure to develop through my reign as Miss Chadron and hopefully Miss Nebraska,” said Shelby.  “Miss Nebraska is a great way for young women to develop much needed skills that will later become an advantage in the work place.”

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Shelby already has an impressive skill set; based on her photos, she’s either ready for next month’s state pageant or to take over Katniss’s role in the Hunger Games. Fear?? What fear!

“I enjoy playing basketball, going fishing, riding my dirt bike, practice shooting and hunting,” said Shelby.  This active lifestyle no doubt contributed to Shelby’s personal platform as Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen, ‘Commit To Be Fit’.

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Shelby sharing her platform with Girl Scouts at the Scouting For The Cure event in Bridgeport in March

“This is committing to eat healthy, and keeping an active heart and mind,” said Shelby.  “I really would like to show people that eating smaller portions is better for you.”

Shelby also notes something I’ve heard time and time again from the young women who take part in the Miss America or Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization, that they love the bonds they’re forming off stage.  Shelby’s cover photo on her Facebook page is the group shot taken of all the contestants and the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen directors at this year’s Crowns and Gowns weekend.

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“My favorite part of competition is the friendships that I have and will form with my pageant sisters,” said Shelby.  “I also like it because it has brought my mother and I closer together.”

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I’d bet Shelby’s mom will be among her loudest supporters as her little girl takes the stage as one of the most remarkable teenagers in the state of Nebraska.  Tiny she may be, but Shelby Blundell talks of confidence and independence; BIG thoughts and goals for a girl just barely 14-years old.

Someone once said, ‘God only lets things grow until they’re perfect.  Some of us didn’t take as long as others!’  Shelby may forever be the shortest girl in the crowd, but remember, big things come in little packages.  This girl, could also be Nebraska’s next Outstanding Teen.

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(Photo courtesy Tami Fosher Photography)

Follow Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Shelby Blundell and contact her for appearances and events on the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page.

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

For more information about how to become a contestant, contact Director Riki Hunter at 308-430-4355 or by email at maoteenchadron@gmail.com.

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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.

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

NEXT.. Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Cherokee Purviance

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.

A Beauty Queen’s Bucket List

I have a folder on Pinterest titled ‘Must See Before Death.’  (Sheesh.. that sounds morbid..) I think of this folder as my virtual travel guide wish list for the world.  So far, I haven’t made it far.. to the Bahamas once, Mexico once, Canada once.  Iowa MANY times.  I hope this isn’t just wishful thinking.. that someday I’ll get to see these gorgeous places with my own eyes and not just in pictures.  I’m a daydreaming world traveler wannabe.

You’re about to meet a young woman who at just 17 years old already has a jump start on me.

CHELSEA

MISS OMAHA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 CHELSEA ARNOLD

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

Chelsea is arguably an explorer of the world, both literally and physically.  When I talked to her last year as Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen (click here to read more!) Chelsea was getting ready for a 3-week cruise to Canada and Alaska, after a school year spent taking full-time online classes through the University of Nebraska High School.  This year, Chelsea returned to a more traditional high school setting, attending Lincoln Southwest High School and taking part in several Silver Hawk activities.

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February, Chelsea posted on Instagram: “A little late but I’m so proud of #Ambeyonce for finishing the season as grand champs this past weekend!”

Chelsea was part of the award-winning Ambience performance choir at LSW, competitively performing at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and at the UNL School of Music throughout the school year.  She’s also part of the sold-out production of Lincoln Southwest’s White Christmas, chosen to be part of the International Thespian Society’s Festival this summer.

Regardless of where she’s studying, Chelsea is often in the spotlight, and at times, to a far-reaching audience.

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Last summer, Chelsea was featured on the cover of Oriental Trading Company’s catalog.  She won first place in the Nebraska State Fair’s Galaxy of Stars Talent Competition.  Chelsea also finished in the Top 5 at the 2014 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant, leading her to Omaha in the hopes of again, being a teen titleholder.

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Chelsea winning a title at in Omaha in November, along with Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Steffany Lien, both crowned by Miss Nebraska’s OT 2014 Morgan Holen.  The day after, Chelsea posted on Instagram:  “Incredibly excited to begin my year as Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen.  Thank you so much to everyone who came out to support me last night!”

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Since that moment, Chelsea’s booking calendar has only filled up more.  She volunteered in Lincoln’s Radio-Thon for the Children’s Miracle Network.  She also spent time alongside Miss Omaha Megan Gould and Mrs. Nebraska Erika Shelton to benefit the Pediatric Cancer Action Network.  She was selected as a model for the Omaha World Herald Bridal Show at the Mid-America Center, and took part in all three Miss America service days to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.

Chelsea’s photos on Facebook and Instagram also exemplify what she calls her favorite part of the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen experience: friendships.

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Chelsea with Miss Scotts Bluff County’s OT 2015 Grace Heggem in Kansas City, with other teens competing for Miss Omaha’s OT in November, and with 2014 Miss Nebraska’s OT contestant Alexis McGlone at a recent choir competition.  Chelsea told the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program: “I’ve met some of my best friends in this system and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.”

Maybe we are all daydreamers in some respect, it’s just our dreams are all different.  Some dream of bright lights and roaring applause.  Some dream of white sand beaches with the soft lull of waves as they sleep.  Some dream of white picket fences with babies laughing in the yard.

Only a few of us print off our Pinterest lists and make our dreams reality.  At 17 years old, Chelsea Arnold has traveled, performed for hundreds, and been seen by thousands. ‘Wannabe’ isn’t in her vocabulary; her next adventure will likely be wherever and whatever she wants it to be.  In less than two weeks from tonight, we’ll all know if the next stop on her world tour will be as Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

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Follow Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Chelsea Arnold

on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on the Miss Omaha/Miss Douglas County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook.  To contact Chelsea for appearances and events, please contact omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.com.

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

For more information about how to become a contestant, contact Director Kelsey Ellis at 402-980-1984 or by email at omahadouglascountyOT@gmail.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 Gering’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Emma Keifer

NEXT.. Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Shelby Blundell

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.

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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.

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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.