From the first number of the “Isn’t She Lovely” theme with “Hits by Stevie Wonder,” the preliminary night of state program was filled with excitement, expression and talent.
The current Junior Miss Chelsea Milligan was introduced by Latricia Thomas, emcee for the event. Milligan also provided entertainment in several dance numbers, as well as participating with some of the routines with the contestants.
In its 53rd year, the Junior Miss Program has awarded more than $92 million in scholarship money to some 700,000 deserving high school seniors since its beginning. Last year, more than 5,000 participated in almost 350 programs across the nation, providing more than $52 million in cash and college scholarship opportunities.
The program is recognized as the premier scholarship program for high school senior girls. It is receiving a definitive new name — Distinguished Young Women.
A statement from the Junior Miss board of directors said, “With the support and participation of our devoted volunteers and alumnae, we are certain that this transition will ensure long term, sustainable success for our program. We look forward to your continued support as we transition to that new name with the Class of 2012.”
Baggett-Forrester noted the average GPA for contestants was 4.1 and 17 of the ladies achieved 4.0 or better. Scoring categories are Scholastics, 20 percent; Interview, 25 percent; Talent, 25 percent; Fitness, 15 percent; and Self-Expression, 15 percent.
After the introduction of the judges, the first round in the fitness segment featured the Jazz Group, contestants one through seven, doing push-ups, sit-ups and dance.
It was followed by the R&B Group, contestants eight through 15, in talent presentation.
Time was taken to introduce and recognize the Junior Miss officers and program sponsors, as well as the parents and hosts families of the Junior Miss participants.
Self Expression was next on program with the Pop Group, contestants 16-22, with each briefly telling about her “passion.” Entertainment followed with a ballet presentation by Anna Carson-Rymer.
The R&B Group was introduced with “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” with contestants eight through 15, in the Self-Expression segment.
The Jazz Group, contestants one through seven, presented their talent followed by the final fitness routine for the Pop Group, contestants 16-22.
Before the closing of the evening program, Milligan presented a “Miracle Dance.” Costumed in gold and black, she left the audience breathless with her perfected routine. Earlier in the program, the 2010 Tennessee Junior Miss told about coming in second in eating raw oysters — a tradition at the Mobile, Ala., competition. The winner, she confided, ate 70 — she only swallowed 20.
All 22 of the ladies graced the stage in the closing number, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered.”
Host families included James and Beverly Dunn, Gary and Pat Fuller,Al and Cheryl Clark, Blake and Heather Sims, Eric and Karen Light, Robert and Ramona Thompson, Dr. John and Sheryl Jaggers, Don and Suzy Sims, Mark and Sallie Brooks, Steve and Terie Kirkpatrick, Alan and Robin Burdine, Charles and Traci Fant, and Jason and Arlyne VanHook.
Sponsors were Mayor Tom and Sandra Rowland, Tom and Sandy Jenkins, Mountain View Inn, Cleveland, Perry’s Petals, Jack’s Kleen Rite, Lee University, Life Care Centers of America Inc,. The Spot, Cleveland, Bob and Cheryl Edson, Fancy Fannies, C&A Charters, Steve and Kim Wittler, Cleveland Daily Banner, Nan and Mike Jenne, David Lane Photography, Brenda Hunley, Pat Longwith, Quiznos, Mountain Laurel Studios, Don Ledford Auto Park, Chili’s, Oliver’s, Countryside Café, and Jim Ball Designs.