Passing the crown

The Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center was filled with smiling faces and positive attitudes when 14 young women competed for the title of Miss Summer Moon Scholarship Pageant queen.

But only one took home the title.

Eighteen-year-old Mindy Kiefer was crowned as the Miss Summer Moon Scholarship Pageant queen on Wednesday evening, as family and friends cheered her on.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” Kiefer told the Wapakoneta Daily News after the competition. “I was very, very surprised.”

Kiefer, who plans to study psychology at the University of Toledo, said preparation for the contest was a lot more than she had expected, between all the events and days that lead up the contest.

“The whole experience was great, I gotten close to all of the girls, and Phyllis (Stoll) and Lyn (Severt) were awesome,” Kiefer said.

Stoll served as pageant director and Severt served as co-director for the event.

2011 Miss Scholarship Moon Pageant Queen Janki Patel inspired Kiefer to compete this year.

“Janki is one of my good friends, and I found out through her that you can win some scholarship money by competing,” Kiefer said.

Kiefer, whose platform speech was on “The Importance of Volunteering,” won $1,000 in scholarship money, along with numerous prizes, including a full photo shot by ClouStudio, who was the official photographer for the event.

During her creative performance, which was a judged category that expressed each girl’s personality in the pageant, Kiefer lined danced to two country songs, wearing a flannel shirt and cowboy boots.

Kiefer’s court consists of first runner-up Salon Gegel, second runner-up Catie Rankin and third runner-up Annie Henderson.

“I am really excited,” Gegel said after the pageant. “The scholarship is going to be great, but I’m super excited to do it again next year.”

Gegel said she had so much fun with the pageant, including choreographing her creative performance, which was a slow dance between her and a male partner. She also enjoyed meeting all of the other girls who competed.

“The biggest thing I learned was to trust yourself,” Gegel said. “I kept getting nervous with my dance, but my partner said I was doing fine.”

Gegel, who spoke on the topic of “The Fire” for her platform speech, said she is really excited to represent Wapakoneta.

Gegel won $500 worth of scholarship money.

Rankin, who will be studying at Bowling Green State University, said she stepped out of her comfort zone while competing in this pageant.

“My mom got me to do it, and I’m glad I did,” Rankin said.

Rankin said this competition was hard work.

“It’s not what you would think a pageant would be like, like you see on TV,” Rankin said.    

Rankin, who spoke on the topic “Find Your Voice” for her platform speech, noted in her speech that her topic fits what her chosen field of study will be, which is speech pathology.

As Rankin prepares to leave for college in the fall, she sang “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” during the creative performance competition, with a suitcase in hand.

Rankin took home $300 of scholarship money.

The contestants did a lot of behind the scenes work in the community, helping out with Relay for Life, marching in parades and preliminary interviews, along with preparing for the big night.

Henderson said she was nervous at the beginning at the pageant, but soon her nerves calmed as she said she was more relaxed by the end of the evening.

“This is my first year doing this,” Henderson said. “My friends talked me into it. I’m glad I did it. It was a fun experience.”

One of Henderson’s favorite parts of the pageant was getting close to all of the other girls.

“I learned confidence in myself,” said Henderson, who spoke on the topic of “Being A Winner” for her platform speech.

Henderson’s creative performance was a combination between basketball and dance, as she tap danced to music and showed some basketball skills, while sporting a Wapakoneta Redskins jersey and sweatband.

Henderson went home with $200 of scholarship money.

The Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the scholarships.

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Hoelscher, who spoke on the topic of “The Arts,” expressed her passion about the subject.

“Would our world be the same without music?” Hoelscher said. “No. Music expresses what cannot be said ... . If you spelled ‘Earth’ without art, it was just be ‘eh.’”

Hoelscher’s talent went hand-in-hand with her speech, as she played the drums — yet not on a drum set, but on trash cans and their lids.

“If we take music and art away, how will our future generations come to know about art and music,” Hoelscher said.

Contestant Mary Frische also took the topic of her platform speech and turned it into her creative performance for the judges.

Frische spoke on “Painting” and how you only need one paintbrush and an imagination.

“Painting does not have to be perfect,” Frische said. “Imperfections are beauty.”

Fully dressed in an buttoned-up shirt with old paint stains, her hair up and a few paint spots on her face, Frische painted a portrait for the audience, complete with many colors.

Frische took home the title of “Most Spirited” during the pageant, as she was timely to meetings and prior events and showed spirit during the duration of the pageant.

Sixteen-year-old Chrystalina Collins spoke on the topic of “Bullying” during her platform speech to the audience.

“You make me feel unwanted, you make me want to cry. Who are you? You are a bully,” Collins said during her speech. “So many kids are being bullied, and so many think it’s a part of growing up. But it’s not.”

Collins noted that one who witnesses bullying should not stand by, but should stand up for the person being bullied.

Collins donned a long white evening gown as she sang “Hero” complete with a photo slideshow in the background scrolling though pictures of soldiers, firefighters and police officers.

Eighteen-year-old Alicia Sawmiller spoke on courage and used the example of the lion in the Wizard of Oz and his journey to find courage.

“Everyone is in search and need of courage,” Sawmiller said during her speech.

She noted that people should try something new every day and one of those things could be standing up for others.

Sawmiller, who did sign language to Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Stronger,” said it can be hard to stand up for someone, but it takes courage to do so.

“Embrace your journey to Oz,” Sawmiller said.

Line dancing to Sugarland’s song “Stuck Like Glue,” Samantha Klaus sported a cowboy hat, boots and had three young girls who helped her line dance to the music.

“The Most Beautiful Flower” was a platform speech given by Klaus, as she talked about the petals, stems and leaves of a flower.

“The most beautiful flower is the flower of happiness,” Klaus said.

Smiling is one way to show happiness, as smiling is proven to be contagious, but another way that Klaus notes to show happiness is through a positive attitude and the importance of having one in life.

Klaus was award Miss Photogenic by the judges for the pageant.

With an array of photos of her family being shown on the projector, Haley Aldrich sang “The House that Built Me” by Miranda Lambert.

For her platform speech, Aldrich spoke on “Something to Always Remember.”

“Count your blessings, not your troubles,” Aldrich said. “Never give yourself a chance to say ‘someday.’ ”

Aldrich noted that if there is something that someone wants to do, they should do it, and never say, “I’ll do it someday” because sometimes that day may never come.

Jade Leffler spoke on “Saving the Arts in Education” and is passionate about schools keeping at least some form of art in schools for students to learn about.

“It builds creative individuality,” Leffler said. “Through creative experiences, students think for themselves and try new things.”

Leffler danced to the song “Hit Me” in a ruby red dance outfit, complete with feathers and gloves.

Fifteen-year-old Taylor Ware sported a black sequins top with white capris as she sang “Carry Your Candle,” with a candle in hand.

Ware said that the most important thing to her is confidence as she talked about “Believing in Yourself” during the platform speech portion of the competition.

“If you believe in yourself, you will succeed in your dreams and everything you do,” Ware said.

She said to learn from your mistakes, but to never hold onto them.

“Just get back up and try again,” Ware said.

Respect was on the mind of contestant Sara Foor, as she sang a verse from an Aretha Franklin song during her platform speech.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me,” Foor sang. “When you think of respect, what do you think of?”

Foor noted that she thinks of respect as being kind and courteous to everyone.

“Respect should be earned and not just given out,” Foor said. “If we could just take the time and talk to people, then we could respect people’s views.”

For her creative performance, Foor showed the audience a hidden talent, which was a ventriloquist act.

When the curtains opened, Foor talked to a girl named Olivia, who was a real human being, yet Foor controlled her arms by a string, like a puppeteer.

Dana Bodine talked about “Starting a Chain Reaction” during her platform speech.

“Bullying is an epidemic worldwide,” Bodine said.

Bodine noted that people should not be judged for the way they are.

“Bullying affects people,” Bodine said. “For every one bully, there are at least five people affected by them.”

Bodine sang “Amen” during her creative performance, and she was also awarded Miss Congeniality, for her helpfulness, respect and her ability to go above and beyond during the pageant.

Judges for the contest were Tricia Bell, reporter from Your Hometown Lima Stations, T.J. Manson, owner of Above and Beyond Salon and Spa, in Covington, and Belle Wiedeman, hip hop instructor at Center Stage Academy in Troy.