The Alaska Junior Miss Scholarship Program is on its way back to Soldotna, offering high school girls a chance to show off their achievements and compete for a number of prizes, including college scholarships.
The competition offers at least one Alaska high school senior the opportunity to join the ranks of successful past participants in the national America's Junior Miss Scholarship Program, including Kim Basinger, Diane Sawyer, Debra Messing and Kathy Lee Gifford, said Teresa Gamble, publicity chair for the state program.
But more importantly, Gamble added, it's an opportunity for the girls to improve themselves and build for their future.
"The platform, 'Be Your Best Self,' really promotes healthy lifestyles, education and that sort of thing," Gamble said. "And there aren't many scholarship opportunities available specifically to girls."
The Alaska Junior Miss program, however, usually offers $1,000 to $2,000 in scholarship money, as well as other prizes. This year, the stakes are even higher. The University of Alaska will provide the first-place state winner with a four-year, tuition-only scholarship, while the second-place winner will receive an identical two-year scholarship.
To compete in the program, young women planning to graduate high school in the spring of 2003 should pick up an application from their school counselor and turn it in by Sunday. The application deals primarily with scholastic achievement and extracurricular and community involvement.
Participants will gather in Soldotna from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2 for five days of interviews and service projects. They will offer "Be Your Best Self" workshops for area elementary students and attend Rotary and chamber of commerce luncheons, all while completing the judges' interview portion of the competition and preparing a routine for the final night performance, hosted by 2002 Alaska Junior Miss, Katie Lockwood of Soldotna.
Participants are judged in five categories, including interview skills (25 percent), talent (25 percent), scholastic achievement (20 percent) and fitness and poise (each 15 percent).
In addition to the scholarship and prizes, the state winner also will go on to represent Alaska in the national competition in Mobile, Ala., where Lockwood placed third last year.
Lockwood was the first Alaska participant to make it to the top eight in the national competition, "which was a huge, huge deal for Alaska," Gamble said.
But whether this year's participants place at nationals, or even make it that far, the Alaska Junior Miss competition is still a worthwhile endeavor for area students, Gamble said.
"It helps them dream a little bigger."
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