Tonganoxie grad wins pageant
A Tonganoxie native proved to be the brightest star Saturday night at the first-ever Miss Leavenworth County Scholarship Pageant.
Paula Prosser was a name the audience knew well by the end of the competition as she was awarded the top score for the interview, evening gown and swimsuit portions, as well as the People's Choice award. She was then crowned Miss Leavenworth County 2007.
"It was a little embarrassing," Prosser said about winning the majority of the awards at the pageant at Basehor-Linwood High School. "I was surrounded by all these great girls, and I thought I hadn't prepared enough. It's always very exciting to be acknowledged for your work."
The 2006 Tonganoxie High School graduate is a freshman at Kansas University and is majoring in music therapy. She became involved in the pageant world at a young age and was a former Miss Kansas Junior Teen as well as third runner up in the 2006 Miss Kansas Teen USA pageant.
"When I finished my last Teen USA pageant, I thought I was done with pageants," Prosser said. "I'm kind of glad I changed my mind."
Local judge Debbie Breuer said that the evening was full of talent, but Prosser was definitely the hands-down winner.
"I think she was very well-rounded and comfortable with all aspects of the pageant," she said. "She just stood out. She's a pretty remarkable young lady."
Prosser, along with the other top scorer at the pageant, Lindsay Hoover, who was crowned Miss Wooded Hills, will go on to compete in the Miss Kansas pageant June 9 at Pratt Community College in Pratt. The winner of the Miss Kansas pageant will receive a $5,000 scholarship and the chance to compete in the Miss America pageant. The Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the world.
Preparations for the Miss Kansas pageant already have begun, Prosser said. She and her mother headed out Sunday to Crown Chic, formerly Evening Extraordinaire, a local boutique that specializes in pageant wear, to purchase a swimsuit and look for other possible wardrobe options for the talent competition.
Prosser said she also would be focusing on her talent -- singing. While she may stick to the selection she performed at the local level, "Anyway," by Martina McBride, for the state competition she may choose another song that has a more traditional country sound, such as piece by Patsy Cline.
But, the most preparation time, she said, will be spent on the business aspect of the competition. Contestants are required to create an entire book as a sort of business declaration that demonstrates how they would handle the job of Miss Kansas.
"There's a lot of work that goes into it because it really is a job," Prosser said. "I'll be speaking at a few events before June, so hopefully that will make the book more thorough."
The new local titleholders will make their first appearance at the St. Patrick's Day parade, Saturday, March 17, in Tonganoxie, said Elizabeth Jump, director of the local pageant. Jump said she hoped to allow the women to improve their speaking skills by visiting local chambers of commerce, Kiwanis' and Lions' Clubs as well.
Hosted by Jump's daughter, Sarah Jump, a 2001 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School and past Miss Kansas contestant, and Joel Nichols from the KMBC-9 News Team, the first ever Miss Leavenworth Scholarship Pageant was open to women from across the state of Kansas. However, Elizabeth Jump said she hopes introducing the new titleholders to the community will promote awareness of the pageant and attract more local contestants and a larger audience.
"It ran really smoothly," Jump said about the first local pageant. "I got lots of good comments. We didn't have a very good turnout; 50 or 60 people maybe. Obviously I'd like that to be 100 or 200, but we'll get there."
The Jumps only had about three weeks to put the pageant together and both Prosser and Breuer commended them for their efforts. Elizabeth Jump said they will have a year to prepare for next year's pageant and hope the extra time will allow them to publicize it more and bring in more local contestants and audience members.
Breuer said she thought the key to bringing in more spectators and women to compete is definitely awareness. Just by attending and judging the pageant this past weekend, Breuer said she already has thought of several women from the community that she feels would be excellent contestants next year.
"It's not just about beauty," she said. "These girls are very talented and have a lot to contribute to society. They are going to be leaders someday."