This year’s 10th anniversary of the Miss WCU pageant on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m., showcased the best. Twenty-one of the University’s most brilliant, talented and passionate female leaders put on the production of a lifetime. Hosts for the evening included many former Miss WCU’s coming back to contribute. Former titleholders included Miss WCU 1999 Michelle Filling, 2003 Rachel Brooks, 2005 April Halligan, 2006 Sierra Barnes and 2007 Andrea Helfrich.
Helfrich completed her last duty as Miss WCU 2007, when she crowned Miss WCU 2008. Through out the night she spoke about her accomplishments this past year as Miss WCU and being a proud supporter of MADD as her platform, for the fight against underage drinking and drunk driving.
She also danced twice as an introduction to her year as well as a farewell. Producer and choreographer Michael J. Hartman is the mastermind behind this production.
Started in 1999, Hartman has led the development of this pageant to the success it was become today.
“This is something I never thought the program would become,” Hartman said. “It’s exciting that people look forward to this event, and have so much support. Rachel Brooks, currently Miss Pennsylvania, did a wonderful job. Andrea [Helfrich] did such a great job this past year, and this year’s contestants really had the most developed platforms I’ve seen so far.”
The WCU spirit started as soon as the production began. The audience cheered loudly with excitement as the curtain opened, and all 21 contestants were dancing in white dresses to Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” for the opening number. These extraordinary women then went on to compete in casual wear (worth 15 percent), free expression/talent (25 percent), evening wear (15 percent), on stage question (5 percent), while the top five had an additional onstage question and overall impression (five percent).
Throughout the earlier part of the day on Saturday, these women participated in off-stage interviews with the five judges, counting for 40 percent of their final score.
Casual wear displayed the personalities of these women, as they expressed themselves through the fun attire and unique walks.
The free expression/talent competition showcased some of the amazing talent this university has to offer. This part of the competition was truly diverse as the women competed through various forms of dancing, color guard routines, martial arts and singing as well as a twirl routine. This part of the pageant was entertaining, and truly made the personalities of these women known.
The 21 contestants participated in evening wear, when they were introduced once again and entered the stage in beautiful gowns ranging among all the colors of the rainbow to reach front and center where they were asked their on-stage question. These questions were chosen based upon topics that were talked about during the off-stage interviews previously during the day.
The top five women Laura Ness, Maricela Cruz, Jaclyn Chilcote, Abbie Jones and Kaity Laughhead, were announced and asked an additional on-stage question. This time the questions came from the contestants, who created the questions earlier in the week.
Helfrich, Miss WCU 2007, performed her closing number dance, as the judges tabulated the scores.
There were nine awards given to women most deserving of these titles, within certain categories. The Congeniality Award and the Poise and Presence Award was given to contestant number 10, Mona Carey. Contestant number four, Stephanie Eckman, received the Leadership Award.
Ness, contestant number 19, was awarded the Academic Award. The WCU First Year Student Award was given to Laura Putman, contestant number 15.
Contestant number 13, Sarah Blandy, was the proud recipient of the Spirit Award. The Community Service Award went deservingly to contestant number 5, Laughhead.
The Non-Finalist Talent Award was presented to contestant number 14, Elizabeth Toal, for her performance in opera. Kaitlyn Saker, contestant number 8, received the Non-Finalist Interview Award.
The evening would not have been complete without the nerve-racking announcement of the top five contestants. Ness, a third-year political science and French major, was Miss WCU 2008’s Fourth Runner Up. The Third Runner Up was third-year special and elementary education major, Laughhead. Second Runner Up went to Cruz, third-year sociology major. First Runner Up went to third-year special education major, Jones.
This left Helfrich the honor of crowing and awarding the title of Miss WCU 2008 to third-year musical theatre student, Chilcote.
Chilcote won the judges over with her talent, an opera piece, captivating everyone in the audience. The ticket proceeds from the event will goes towards Chilcote’s platform, “Child Sexual Abuse Awareness.”
Chilcote now serves as the Miss WCU 2008 and starts her reign from here. She will be seen at many campus and community events promoting her platform while representing WCU.
“I’m looking forward to promoting my platform on campus and in the community. It was amazing to have the opportunity to compete with my sister [contestant number 21, Bridgette Chilcote], and all of the great girls that made this experience memorable.”
“This was a great experience to expose my platform [Habitat for Humanity] even more to the entire campus.”
Jones stated, “Becoming First Runner Up is far beyond any expectations I’ve ever had. Being a contestant makes us all winners, because it takes leadership, passion, and dedication. I want to congratulate Jaclyn [Chilcote] for winning tonight, because she did a great job.”
Although Helfrich’s year is over, it’s the start of a new year for our newest Miss WCU, Chilcote. This woman is certainly one to look out for, as she will be the face of WCU for the upcoming year.
“This was an incredible experience,” Helfrich explained, “I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m happy that I can use my experiences, and continue to contribute to the rest of the world. Jaclyn Chilcote is a great woman, who now gets to carry on the Miss WCU legacy.”
Jackie Aliotta is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at JA609350@wcupa.edu.