“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” — Maya Angelou
Yup. I posted that.
I apologize for the language, but I think Ms. Angelou is pretty accurate with her assessment. And if one of America’s most respected authors/poets wants to swear, who I am to change her quote??
Now, meet the young women taking charge and living these words.
The 9 ladies competing for the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teenager.
This relatively new honor is the sister-organization of Miss America. Women competing for Miss America must be at least a senior in high school, and may range in age from 17-24 years old. Miss America’s Outstanding Teen allows girls ranging in age from 12-17 (in some cases, 18) to participate as well. Just like their ‘Miss’ counterparts, these young ladies compete in talent, evening gown, interview, and a modified fitness portion (no swimsuits, instead a choreographed routine to display health.)
Today, in a special feature, meet the nine teenagers from across the state hoping to become Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen. Several of these young ladies were eager to share a little more about themselves as they prepare for North Platte!
Alliance, BreaHanna Harlow
BreaHanna is 16, from Scottsbluff, attending Leyton High School.
“I’m competing because I love teaching others the struggles underprivileged students go through,” said BreaHanna. “I believe that if you can convince one person, you can convince the world.”
BreaHanna is a cheerleader at Leyton High, works at the Buckle, and says she really enjoys the comfort of her family.
“Pageants have taught me that beauty isn’t everything,” said BreaHanna. “All you need in pageants and in life overall is a great personality and knowledge about the future and past. My motto is always believe there’s a better solution to everything and that all you need is support.”
Chadron, Allie Boggs
Allie is 16, from Gering, attending Gering High School.
Her Facebook page is loaded with pictures showing Allie participating in Cheer/Dance at school, including District competitions.
Senior pictures also show off Allie’s love for dance, especially ballet.
Allie also competed last year at the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant.
Crane Watch, Shelbe Stroh
Shelbe is 15, from Elkhorn, a freshman at Elkhorn South High School.
“School has been my number one priority,” Shelbe told me. “I have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my first year of high school, I am a member of Elkhorn South student council as well as DECA, FCCLA, and SADD. I play soccer and plan to play volleyball for the school in the fall.”
Shelbe also volunteers in the Omaha metro area, helping the homeless and near homeless.
“I [spend] my time at the Open Door Mission serving dinner and working with the youth in the Lydia House,” said Shelbe. “I also volunteered at the Special Olympics bowling games.”
In what little free time she has, Shelbe says she enjoys poetry, finding new songs for her playlist, hitting the gym, and adding to the ‘tie-dye and hipster fashion’ collages in her bedroom.
“Pageants have allowed me to improve my leadership, communication and thinking skills,” said Shelbe. “I have grown as a person, for I have tested my strength in mind and body. I love the gratification that comes along with success. Each day, I strive to improve myself and feed off failure to obtain success.”
Gering, Caylen Calderon
Caylen is from Scottsbluff and attends Scottsbluff High School where she plays volleyball and is a member of the choir
Browse through Caylen’s photos and one thing is clear–she LOVES being a sister.
Family and friends are a definite priority for this young lady. They were by her side as she was crowned Gering’s Outstanding Teen, and no doubt they will be cheering her on in North Platte!
Northwest, Chelsea Arnold
Chelsea is 16 from Crete. She attends school at… well, that’s part of Chelsea’s story and her personal platform, ‘The Importance of Individualized Education’.
“My primary goal is to help students reach their full academic potential by exposing them to different models of learning,” Chelsea told me recently. “Whether in a traditional school, home school or as an online student, it’s important to explore differing learning styles and resources. There is no ‘one size fits all’ or standard education. Every individual learns differently and I am passionate about exposing people to new ideas.”
Chelsea has attended private, public and charter schools in Florida, California and Nebraska. She says the traditional classroom didn’t work for her.
“I left traditional school nearly halfway through my sophomore year and took up classes full time through the University of Nebraska High School online,” said Chelsea. “I couldn’t be happier with the education I’m getting right now and I want every student to have that feeling!”
Chelsea said her new schedule allows her more time to pursue other passions including theater, singing and modeling. Chelsea recently appeared on the cover of Oriental Trading Company’s catalog. She also volunteers in her free time.
“When Children’s Hospital would like to have a craft hour or needs someone to man the phones for a telethon, I can be there!” said Chelsea. “I call Bingo twice a week at Tabitha Nursing Center as well.”
Chelsea will stay busy until the day she arrives in North Platte; she is currently on a 3-week cruise to Alaska via Vancouver, Canada!
Omaha, Morgan Holen
Morgan is 16, from Omaha, attending Elkhorn South High School (the Storm will be well represented at Miss Nebraska!)
Morgan is following in some beautiful footsteps; her mom, Jodi, was Miss Nebraska 1988. Just like her mother, Morgan has a passion for dance.
“I have been dancing for 13 years and dance roughly 18-20 hours a week both for my school dance team and for my competitive dance team, Kitty Lee Dance,” Morgan told me a in a recent interview.
Morgan says one of her favorite things about being Miss Omaha’s Outstanding Teen is volunteering.
“With my title I have been able to volunteer for activities like IHOP National Pancake Day, Race to 50K, and the telethon through Children’s Miracle Network,” said Morgan. “My favorite activity is sponsoring craft hour at Children’s Hospital.”
Morgan is also spreading word about her personal platform of service, ‘Random Acts of Kindness’.
“Many of us have heard about the person who paid for the car behind them at Burger King or Starbucks, but random acts of kindness don’t require money,” said Morgan. “Each one of us has the ability to make a difference in someone’s life every day.”
Morgan also encourages all young ladies to think about participating in Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen program.
“I believe whole-heartedly in the Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organizations and would strongly recommend any teenage girl to be a part of it,” said Morgan. “This organization not only provides scholarships, but also encourages poise, confidence and service. I have seen contestants gain success on and off stage no matter where they placed in the pageant. The experience gained is valuable for all who participate.”
Panhandle, Alexis McGlone
Alexis is 15, from Mitchell, Neb., attending Mitchell High School where she is a member of the show choir, volleyball team and the cheerleading squad.
Her photos on Facebook show a VERY busy young lady, climbing mountains, participating at Maranatha Bible Camp, even taking part in flour fights!
Alexis has also competed in the Miss America system before, and has many photos alongside girls she’s competing with.
With only a few weeks to go before the state pageant, Alexis is getting ready, singing in front of crowds at her school. As one friend commented, ‘great practice for the pageant!’
Scotts Bluff County, Allison Baird
Allison is 16, from Gering, Neb., attending Gering High School. (The Bull Dogs will also have two contestants competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen!)
Allison, or ‘Allie’ is active in drama at her school, recently starring in the musical Cinderella. She’s also on the dance/cheer team, and part of the state runner-up speech team at Gering.
Allie is also a member of the show choir. If her albums on Facebook are any indication, she is a VERY busy young lady, constantly smiling and surrounded by friends!
Western Nebraska, Grace Heggem
Grace is this year’s youngest competitor, just 14 years old. She is from Scottsbluff and attends Community Christian School.
“I’m doing this pageant because I’m excited to improve my speaking skills and I think it greatly helps in improving maturity,” Grace told me recently. “I also, of course, am looking forward to making lots of memories with some amazing girls.”
Grace says she loves to play the piano. She is using her year as Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen to spread awareness of her personal platform of service, mentoring.
Grace has been on the honor roll multiple times at Community Christian School, maintaining an A average throughout her 7th grade year.
She also runs track, finishing as a top competitor in the 200 meter run in her division.
Each of these young ladies will at some point probably talk, laugh and take photos with THIS young lady..
Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2013, Samantha Washington
One year ago, this teenager was just like all of the girls you just read about; working hard in school, practicing to be a better singer and dancer, and volunteering to make her community a better place. All of those qualities helped Samantha earn the title of Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.
She summed up her year of service in a post on the Miss NE OT Facebook page in January.
WHO WILL BE NEXT?
Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2014 will be crowned June 7, 2014 in North Platte.
You can also follow the organization on Twitter.