Monday, June 18 , 2018, 3:07 pm | Fair 69º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Barbara’s Junior Miss Contestants Compete for Scholarships

Haley Araki and Addison Clark of Dos Pueblos High and Providence Hall's Rebecca Schasberger advance to the state competition

The Santa Barbara’s Junior Miss scholarship organization, a local chapter of the national America Junior Miss, awarded $12,400 in scholarship money on Sunday.

The competition was held at the Valle Verde retirement center in Santa Barbara, which donated the center’s theater space to the scholarship program, enabling it to award substantially more in scholarship funds to the participants.

Haley Araki, Addison Clark, juniors at Dos Pueblos High School, and Rebecca Schasberger of Providence Hall High School were the three high school juniors who advanced to the California’s Junior Miss scholarship competition, to be held the first week in August in Bakersfield.

The participants attended several rehearsals in March and April, and with the help of last year’s Junior Miss winners — Amber Rockwood, Montana Marshall and Thia Laurain — the students honed their skills in interview techniques, poise and carriage, extemporaneous speaking and talent. The coaching was furthered by special guests Maritza Mejia, outreach manager of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara; Betty Hatch, founder of La Belle Model & Talent Agency; and college coach Andrea Rifkin.

The high school juniors are encouraged to reach outside their comfort zones and are judged in five categories: scholastics, fitness, self-expression (an “on stage” question), talent and interview. There were category winners in each of the categories, with each winner receiving a $350 award. The three overall winners were awarded $1,000 each — in addition to any category awards they received.

There were many memorable talent performances, including one by Hannah Bangs who, at the last moment, played the piano and sang a song she wrote (instead of hula hooping), and one by basketball star Ali Breuer, who recited a tender essay she had written about a broken heart.

Shasberger, winner of the interview, self-expression, fitness and talent category, strummed, tapped and played her cello. Alix de Gramont performed a moving, theatrical piece about the color “white,” and self-taught piano player Gaby Wildfeuer played the piano.

Megan Tench and Molly Marshall were winners in the rigorous fitness category. “Be Your Best Self” essay winner Corrine Ruth was an interview and self-expression winner, as well as a scholastics winner with Connie Pfung. Runner-up Juhi Khemani performed an Indian Bollywood dance, and received a scholastic, interview and self-expression award. Araki, talent and fitness winner, performed a lyrical dance to Joy Williams’ “Every Moment.” Clark, scholastic, talent, self-expression and interview winner, performed an a cappella version of “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera.

Earlier in the month, several Junior Misses, including second runner-up Page Brenner, shared their talents at the downtown Girls Inc. site, as part of community outreach to introduce younger girls to the “Be Your Best Self” mission statement of the America Junior Miss program. Brenner, who performed her award-winning karate routine, also received an award for interview.

While the judges deliberated, 2011 Spirit of Fiesta and Santa Barbara Junior Miss 2007 Erika Martin del Campo danced flamenco. Has Beens, Sarah Shasberger, Jillian McIntyre and Chelsea Chaves — all talent winners in previous years — also performed. Buddy Winston, former joke writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno shared the emcee spotlight with last year’s winners.

In addition, Everybody Dance Now!’s performance troupe, founded by Santa Barbara’s Junior Miss 2008 Jackie Rotman, when she was 14, performed for the sold-out audience.

The Santa Barbara show will be televised on Channel 21 next month.

The 53rd annual America’s Junior Miss National Finals will be June 26-28 in Mobile, Ala.

— Kate Rotman is co-chair of the Santa Barbara’s Junior Miss scholarship committee.

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