Fifteen young women have traveled from their hometowns and arrived in Kenai to take part in a week of activities for the Alaska Junior Miss Program.
The girls are attending workshops, luncheons, rehearsals, making public appearances and giving "Be your best self" presentations to area students. The young ladies, including central Kenai Peninsula participants, will stay in the homes of host families.
The week's preparations culminate Saturday at the Kenai Central High School Auditorium. The theme of this year's program is "Northern Nights" and is under the direction of Bud Draper. Special guest is Alaska's official balladeer, Hobo Jim. Debbie Fucile, Northwest regional coordinator of America's Junior Miss, will travel from Spokane, Wash., to attend the program.
Tickets will be available at the door. The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
Contestants are judged on the same five categories on the local, state and national level: interview is 25 percent; talent, 25 percent; scholastics, 20 percent; fitness, 15 percent; and poise, 15 percent.
The Junior Miss program is unique because it uses scholastics as a judging category and does not charge an entry fee to participants.
Those taking part in the program will compete for cash scholarships totaling nearly $10,000 in 11 categories: Alaska's Junior Miss, first runner-up, three finalists, overall scholastic achievement, overall talent, overall fitness, overall poise, "Be Your Best Self" essay and the Marti Steckel Spirit of Junior Miss award.
The young woman chosen to represent Alaska at the 2001 state finals will travel to Mobile, Ala., in June for a two-week, all-expense-paid opportunity to compete for the title of America's Junior Miss and more than $100,000 in college scholarships. The final night of competition in Mobile will be broadcast live on TNN.
The Alaska Junior Miss Scholarship Program is a franchised arm of America's Junior Miss, which just celebrated its 43rd anniversary and is the oldest and largest scholarship program for high school senior girls in the nation.
Alaska has a history of association with the America's Junior Miss since its first representative was chosen in 1959. The mission of the program is to provide scholarship opportunities to outstanding, college-bound high school girls and encourage personal development in all young people through its "Be Your Best Self" outreach program.
Alaska's Junior Miss is sponsored by individuals and businesses locally and statewide, including BP Amoco, Tesoro Alaska, Allan and Alfie Norville, National Bank of Alaska, IBEW Local No. 1547, Rotary Club of Soldotna, Fireweed Fence, The Fitness Place, Healthy Changes and others.
The following are profiles of those who will compete in Saturday's contest.
HEAD:Contest set for Saturday in Kenai
BYLINE1:By SAM EGGLESTON
Debussy, Vivaldi, Weber -- even Beethoven. All are classical composers, and all have been known for their difficult music compositions.
The Kenai Peninsula Orchestra will take the music of these greats along with the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Moussorgsky and Khachaturian and transform it into their winter concert Saturday.
"I encourage people to seriously consider showing up to this concert," said Phil Morin, a member of the executive board for the orchestra. "Some people will roll their eyes if they are not into classical, but they will be surprised at the quality of the music."
In fact, Morin said that it may even become more than a concert event for those who attend.
"When you are watching the orchestra in the (Christ) Lutheran Church you get the feeling that you are actually sitting in the orchestra, actually sitting in one of the chairs facing the conductor," he said. "You will be transported, and you will really enjoy it."
The orchestra will hold two performances, one Friday at the Mariner Theatere in Homer and again Saturday at the Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. Both performances are at 7:30 p.m.
The orchestra, which is made up of entirely volunteer musicians, has a fluctuating number of members due to other duties, but according to Morin, there still are plenty of musicians to make it worthwhile.
"I think we are pushing something like 50," he said. "There are five cellists this year and there would normally be one or two, if that gives you a better idea of the size of the orchestra."
Although Morin was unsure of the average number of audience members the orchestra normally draws, he said they are expecting a fair amount to attend.
"We've been known to have to put out extra chairs at the Lutheran Church," he said. "I am looking forward to a pretty big house. We normally get lots of good support."
The orchestra changed its schedule for the winter concert this season, switching from a selection of Christmas music and a Christmas setting to more challenging numbers.
"This year the concert is being held later then before, trying to land it between their normal Christmas concert but before March and April," Morin said. "The music they have selected is very difficult, and it is definitely something for the community to attend."
This year the orchestra will feature three of its own orchestra musicians as soloists. Nancy Chambers, Ida Pearson and Sue Biggs will be featured along with their instruments -- the violin. According to Morin, all three are accomplished violinists with a myriad of performing experience.
"A lot of the talent on the peninsula, I feel, is under estimated," he said. "I don't know if that is because we are provincial -- out in the boonies -- or what it is, but those who attend are going to find out this is not just elevator music, not at all."
According to Morin, there is not just one reason the musicians play with the orchestra.
"There is something magical about being a member of a major piece, to do something with others that you couldn't do alone. There are probably as many different reasons that these musicians play as there are musicians playing."
Tickets are available at the Music Box in Soldotna, Alaskan Gift and Galley in Kenai, Etude Music in Homer and at the door. Prices are $10 for general admission, $9 for seniors, $7 for youth and $30 for family.
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