A contestant's perspective on an time-honored St. Jonhs tradition
by Mikayla Lindenfeld
The word “pageant” has earned itself an unfortunate reputation. Most people tend to think of a “Toddlers and Tiaras” situation, or a bunch of grown women in ball gowns clawing for the crown. However, over the last few months, the Miss Bartram Trail Scholarship Pageant has taught me and the 27 other girls that participated in it exactly what a “pageant” means to us.
When we first started practices in October, there was a clear division among the 28 girls. We stuck to our own little groups, with some girls sitting all on their own, and we didn’t even know each other’s names. Speaking up during meetings felt forced and judged. As the date neared, more pageant-related activities came up. One of the activities included a dinner and a sleepover, which the majority of us were nervous for and a few of us were even dreading. The reality? Memories and friendships were formed that could never be broken. Between karaoke at midnight and waking up to see the sunrise on the river in the morning, these girls were finally starting to feel like sisters.
The next month was spent as living proof of the pageant’s theme: “‘Bee’ your best self!” Girls supported other girls, hyped them up, helped them pick their outfits for the pageant, prepare for the interview, and get ready for the big day: April 13th. We learned so much about each other that we never would have known otherwise, from philanthropic work to the reasons behind our favorite animals.
Before we knew it, the big night had arrived! We practiced every day after school until late at night during the week leading up to it. Girls cheered for each other at the practices and helped each other through any difficulties that might have put them on edge. When the final night came, we knew exactly what to expect. During the show, there was an excitement in the air, and everyone cheered on the other contestants. According to Julia Perry, a contestant in the pageant, “I’ve never felt more confidence or more like myself than I did on stage that night.”
Carolina Balcita was crowned Miss Bartram 2020, and the support she received from the other contestants after receiving her title was unreal. She says that she “...truly felt the bond between everyone standing up on stage hand-in-hand, and I think that’s what the pageant was truly all about.” Everyone was thankful for the experience and excited for the ladies who received awards. The most touching must have been the tears that were shed after Rebecca Kerr had an award named after her due to her unmatched service at Timberlin Creek Elementary school over the course of the past few months.
Overall, the Miss Bartram Trail Scholarship Pageant instilled confidence in all 28 girls and helped them form real friendships with real incredible young women. Personally, the pageant has led me to the realization that, when given the tools, I can empower myself and help other women to follow the pageant’s theme and “bee” the best version of ourselves possible.