The field of candidates for the second annual Miss Oak Harbor Scholarship Pageant is already double that of last year’s competition.
As of Thursday, organizers said they had 16 confirmed entries and four more expected, leaving just ten open spots for the event. Entries must be received by Feb. 1.
“We had nine contestants last year and just one division,” said pageant founder Jes Walker-Wyse. “This year we will have two divisions, the teen division, which is freshmen and sophomores and the Miss Oak Harbor division, which is juniors and seniors.”
The scholarship competition is open to all Oak Harbor High School girls and scholarships totaling $5,000 will be awarded. According to Walker-Wyse, Miss Oak Harbor will receive a $2,500 scholarship, first princess will get $1,000 and second princess will earn $750. The winner of the Teen category will get $500 with first and second princesses earning $400 and $300 scholarships, respectively.
According to Walker-Wyse, the six-week program offers a unique opportunity to young women.
“There is a great element of camaraderie when these young ladies get together,” she said. “It’s great for their self-development, confidence and life experience. Plus, there’s a fun beauty element, which makes this a unique scholarship opportunity.”
Participants this year are asked to procure a business sponsorship for $200, which helps fund the pageant. Scoring is done in two parts. Pre-pageant scoring gives the participants the opportunity to earn points based on their grade-point average (although straight A’s are not required), attendance, promotion of the event, work hours if they are employed and any time spent doing community service work.
The night of the pageant includes points for stage presence, formal wear and the talent/speech portion of the competition. This year’s contestants will also perform a choreographed dance routine, which they will practice each week.
Walker-Wyse, who grew up doing pageants in California, said the process can really help shape a young girl’s image of herself.
“Those competitions led me to where I am and introduced me to a lot of skills I have today, such as marketing, sales and creative thinking,” she said.
Having the contestants get their own sponsors is also a learning experience.
“When they walk into a business and they get a ‘yes,’ it’s a great feeling,” said Walker-Wyse. “And I think it’s key to tie this competition in with business, because it’s all about community.”
Walker-Wyse also encourages businesses who are interested in sponsoring a contestant to contact her.
“You’re giving a young lady the opportunity to grow and develop,” she said. “And from the moment she walks through your door to the night of the competition, you will see such a transformation and know that you were a part of it.”
Last year’s winner was Dejsha Lollar. Walker-Wyse said Lollar just arrived in Hillson, Australia to study music.
The final competition will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19 at the Oak Harbor High School Student Union Building. The event is open to the public. Tickets are $10 and are available at People’s Bank, the Oak Harbor Chamber and from contestants. For entry forms and more information, visit www.pageantwyse.org.