When Miss America’s Outstanding Teen execs Kim Parrish and Kristin Black said this year’s teen program was going to be surprising, they weren’t kidding. With all-new music including Maroon 5's 'Moves Like Jagger,' and performance routines, contestants wowed and entertained judges and audience members alike.
To date, the MAOTeen organization has provided its contestants with more than $4 million in scholarships. This year continued the tradition toward higher education. Scholarship recipients from the MAOTeen class of 2013 will receive more than $120,000 in-cash scholarships and thousands of dollars of scholarships from universities across the country. The 2013 titleholder will be awarded $25,000 in cash scholarship money.
Two scholarships in the amount of $500 each were awarded at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s program including awards for talent and for evening gown and on-stage question. From opera to tap to self-composed piano ballads to a fiddle rendition of “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” teens set the bar for all other elements of the program extraordinarily high. Winner of the talent competition and scholarship recipient Molly May, Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen, sang “I am Changing,” a number she chose because “it felt natural,” she says. Molly sang the song for her local pageant and has been singing it since she was a little girl. Along with that experience, Molly still feels some nerves on stage, but she kept them at bay with high hopes and a little help from above.
“I pray and just say God’s will be done. It was a miracle though, because I have been sick,” she says.
Molly plans to put the scholarship money toward buying college books. She’s hoping to enroll at the University of Mississippi.
But talent is more than a well-practice routine. It encompasses grace, poise, and confidence which is where the evening wear and on-stage question competitions measure contestants’ charm. Questions for contestants Tuesday night were written by their fellow teens, and the winner of the competition, Jessica Richards, Miss Utah’s Outstanding Teen, received a $500 scholarship for her witty and selfless response. She was asked, if she was invisible for a day, what the first thing she would do is. Jokingly, Jessica said she’d first play a prank on her little brother (whom she also adores). Then she would set out to perform kind acts in her community.
“Little acts of kindness bring the biggest smile to my face. I’d love to do that under cover,” she said.
Wednesday night’s program continues the festivities. Stay tuned for fourpoints’ coverage of the event and to read about the crowning of the Princess Camp!
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints staff writer. Photo: Alan Dye. Tuesday night preliminary scholarship recipients Jessica Richards, Miss Utah's Outstanding Teen, and Molly May, Miss Mississippi's Outstanding Teen, pose together after the program.