Tag Archive | Key Club

Sister Act

To the world, you may be one person; but to one person, you may be the world.

SISTER.  To all of you who have one, I am envious; what a special bond, to have someone you can always talk to, always relate to, tease and then hug, laugh but still fight, a person that you will be bonded to for life for better or for worse.  That’s pretty darn awesome!

Big sisters have a huge responsibility.  Your little sister is your ‘big brother’, watching every move you make, wanting to emulate everything you do, and if you’re lucky, becoming a mirror of all of your best attributes.  Emma Wilkinson is EXTREMELY lucky; she has had several women in her life playing the role of ‘big sister’, and all have had an enormous impact on the young woman she is becoming.

12715558_1020979377940761_745440111558074011_n

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

The title of ‘little sister’ has been a formative factor in Emma’s life since she  was a young girl growing up in North Platte, the home of the Miss Nebraska pageant.

“I was involved in the Little Sisters Program and I’ve dreamt of being Miss Nebraska ever since,” Emma told me recently.  “My Big Sister was Miss Nebraska 2009 Brittany Jeffers!  I was so lucky to be her Little Sister the year she won!  As I watched my Big Sister dance her heart out on the Miss Nebraska stage, I realized I wanted to be a dancer!”

Emma started dance lessons at the Dance Factory in North Platte, under the direction of Miss Nebraska 1999 Becky Smith-Wagner.

“Today, I’m at the highest level in my studio.  I take ballet, jazz and lyrical,” said Emma.  “My dance teacher, Becky Wagner, has had such an amazing influence on my life.  She has been such an amazing role model for not only for me, but for all of the girls who attend classes at The Dance Factory.”

Every class, and every life lesson Emma learned from these women helped fuel that initial dream to compete for one of our state’s longest standing honors.  This year, Emma couldn’t wait any longer.. and since she isn’t yet old enough to compete for Miss Nebraska, she signed up to compete for the organization’s ‘little sister’ program, Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.

12923220_1054843461221019_3332664467885889194_n

In her first pageant, Emma was crowned Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2016, giving her the same performance and leadership opportunities both Brittany and Becky pursued years ago.

“Although I love to dance, singing is my passion,” said Emma.  “Ever since I received the lead of Little Red Riding Hood in a musical here at North Platte Community Playhouse, I have been lost in musical theatre and the art of performing.  I went to Texas Arts Project in Austin to gain more passion for singing, dancing and acting.”

Emma, a junior at North Platte High School, is also Vice President of the Nebraska Association of Student Councils (NASC; Emma served as district president last year), a cheerleader, and involved with Key Club and Honor Society.  In addition, every summer she attends Launch, a statewide leadership program.  That organization and Emma’s involvement inspired her personal platform of service as Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen, ‘Breaking Down Barriers: Education To End Stereotyping.’

“I have watched stereotypes drive kids away from exploration of themselves and the communities they inhabit, and instead into molds that high school has predetermined for them,” said Emma.  “It is not impossible to defeat stereotyping.  Simply getting to know each other weakens the barriers.  Making real connections with a classmate is stronger than any stereotype.”

Emma has also been busy making those connections herself, with her Class of 2016 Outstanding Teen sisters.

Together, these girls have been making appearances across the state, trying to have a positive impact on their communities, in addition to the responsibilities and commitments they have made as high school students.

“I am passionate about catalyzing positive change in my school, in my community, and in Nebraska,” said Emma.

Emma credits that drive and desire to form relationship to the sister and bond that stand out from all the rest.

“My biggest role model is my sister, Lily,” said Emma.  “When she was in high school, she was NASC’s state president, and she currently attends Harvard College in Boston.  She truly can do anything she sets her mind to and continues to make me extremely proud.”

12821512_939255759457217_8989061801118345022_n

A beautiful sentiment from a little sister.. who will now become the big sister she’s always admired.  The above photo was taken this spring, when Emma was cast as Belle in North Platte High School’s production of Beauty and the Beast.

“That experience was something I will never forget,” said Emma.  “After every show, I loved walking out to greet people who came to watch me.  I will never, ever forget the look on the little girls’ faces when they saw Belle standing right in front of them.  Little did they know, I felt just as honored as they did.”

Perhaps, a preview to this year’s Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, when it will be Emma on stage, looked at and fawned over by countless little girls, dreaming of someday wearing that same crown.

11986323_863548593694601_3061130952310565356_n

***

CLICK HERE to follow Miss Chadron’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Emma Wilkinson on Facebook!

For information on becoming a contestant, CLICK HERE to visit the Miss Chadron/Northwest/Fur Trade Days Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook.  You can also contact Director Amanda Vogel by phone at 308-665-5595 or by email at maoteenchadron@gmail.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

***

The 2016 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place June 10 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Twin Rivers 2016 Jenni Wahonick!

NEXT.. Miss Scotts Bluff County 2016 Allison Baird!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Building A Legacy

“Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”

I LOVE this quote.  I first heard it from the movie The Sandlot (which is a MUST SEE if you haven’t..) and I’ve always held onto it, even naming my fledgling college video production company ‘Legend Productions’.  To me, it always meant to push harder, to do a little more, to build a legacy that will be extend long past your physical life.

This weekend on KETV Chronicle, our Rob McCartney interviewed coach, Congressman, athletic director and mentor Dr. Tom Osborne.  He is a Hall of Fame college football coach, one of the most respected in the history of the game.  He won his congressional district with an astounding 83-percent of the vote.  He stepped in to the Nebraska Athletics’ office at a time of fan unrest and turmoil and ‘righted the ship’ according to many sports experts.

Tom_Osborne_US_Congress_portrait

But when Rob asked  ‘T.O.’ how he would define a successful life, Osborne said he hoped to be defined by the relationships created through the Teammates mentoring program he founded, not just by what was accomplished on the football field.

” That ripple effect on down through history is your legacy,” Osborne told Rob. “Trophies tarnish, rings get thrown in the trash can and records, if you think about it, who was a great coach 90-years ago?  You hear a few names but you don’t remember those guys anymore, and that’ll be the same thing with me and other people.  But that ripple effect, the influence you had on people, that will continue on down through many generations.”

CLICK HERE to watch Rob McCartney’s exclusive interview with Dr. Tom Osborne on KETV Chronicle.

Rob has interviewed Osborne numerous times throughout the years, developing mutual respect and friendship through that relationship, and this answer stood out for Rob and many of us who watched Chronicle.  Of everything Dr. Tom Osborne has accomplished, MENTORING is one of the things he’s proudest of.

She may separated by distance, time and experience from Osborne.. but that desire to make an impact on people is mutual for 16-year old Grace Heggem.

12745491_1700466160171798_702244740928820399_n

Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography

“Spending time with a child even just once a week and getting to know them can really inspire them to set and achieve goals of their own,” Grace told me recently.  She’s promoting mentoring across Scottsbluff as Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, after an experience with a classmate two years ago.

“One of the girls in my class had confessed to us that she had been depressed lately and the previous weekend had suicidal thoughts,” said Grace.  “She said that that week I had come up and talked to her and that simple act had made her feel like someone cared and was one of the reasons she was still here.  I immediately broke down and later realized the impact simple acts can have.  Sometimes all people need is to know that someone cares.”

And it was a mentor who led Grace to the path she is currently on to compete for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.  Her childhood babysitter was Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan, who encouraged her to try a pageant when Grace was 13.

12714120_1700061706878910_1206783710_n

“I loved it!” said Grace.  “The entire process is a great confidence booster and the interview/people skills can really be beneficial in the future.  These pageants bring about personal development.  I have seen for myself the positive changes they bring about for young women.  I’ts not always about the end result, it’s about who you become in the process.”

 Grace is quick to note she’s not just a ‘pageant queen’.  She is president of the sophomore class at Scottsbluff High School, vice president of Key Club (focusing on community service), a member of National Honor Society, she plays varsity volleyball, she’s involved in her school’s upcoming musical, she’s a dancer and she plays piano.

Grace credits her work ethic, the ‘5am-6pm way of life’ as she calls it, to her parents, a quality she says would make her a great state representative.

“I am diverse and involved in a wide variety of activities which makes me personable and able to reach a greater amount of people in my state,” said Grace.  “My grandpa is a rancher so I understand and can definitely appreciate that major element of what makes Nebraska.  As my dad is the owner of a construction business, I understand the value of hard work.”

That family unit is also Grace’s top priority.

“My mom is my number one supporter no matter what, my best friend, and the person I laugh with the most,” said Grace.  “My dad has always supported me in everything I did and always encourages me.  My brothers are my best buds whether we’re watching football, laughing, or even arguing.  Growing up with three brothers, I never played with barbies or dolls because we were too busy playing with Nerf guns or wrestling. (I totally won by the way.)”

Neither pageants nor any other outside influence is likely to change those core values for Grace, who notes her biggest role model is Duck Dynasty star and devout Christian Sadie Robertson.

“I really respect her because she’s in a business where her values aren’t necessarily prevalent but she still stays true to them,” said Grace.  “She is different but she embraces it and by doing this inspires others to not be afraid to be themselves either.  That is something I definitely admire and try to do myself.”

12735819_1700061853545562_938849099_n

And whether Grace Heggem is signing autographs or volunteering for the Children’s Miracle Network, she hopes to inspire her fellow pageant contestants (the girls she now calls her friends), to join her in the mission SHE embraces.

12736395_1700061556878925_314208444_n

“If I were to become Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen I would like to create a mentoring program using our Nebraska titleholders!” said Grace.  “Pageant queens absolutely have the potential to be mentors in their communities.  It’s crazy to me how a little girl’s eyes light up when they see and talk to a ‘princess’ with a crown on her head.’

And while Grace Heggem has a lot to be proud of.. being featured in her local paper, playing piano for crowds of hundreds, being elected a leader by her fellow students and peers.. that impact through mentoring is the legacy she wants to leave behind.

12713967_1700061870212227_1401310349_n

Tom Osborne’s players have gone on to do amazing things (CLICK HERE to read a few in my Throwback Thursday Husker series!).  Those young men, and the people Osborne mentored have passed on those life lessons to their children, and kids THEY’VE mentored.  If the little girl smiling above with Grace goes on to mentor someone, and SHE goes on to mentor someone, that cycle of positive influence will continue long beyond what two people remember; it becomes a legacy.  That is Grace Heggem’s goal on her way to compete for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen.. the sparkly crown is just a bonus.

***

CLICK EACH LINK to follow Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2016 Grace Heggem

on FACEBOOK, and on INSTAGRAM

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GRACE?

CLICK HERE * 2015 * Amazing Grace

CLICK HERE * 2014 * Nebraska’s Outstanding Teens

For more information about the Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, visit THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.  For information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley at 308-631-0938 or by email at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.  You can also email thirtyone.hayes@yahoo.com.

For more information on becoming a Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestant, contact Director Heather Edwards at heatheraloseke@gmail.com or Director Kali Tripp at kalinicoletv@gmail.com.

***

The 2016 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant takes place June 10 in North Platte, Nebraska.  Learn more on THEIR WEBSITE, FACEBOOK PAGE, or follow ON TWITTER and ON INSTAGRAM.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Kool-Aid Days 2016 Chelsea Arnold!

NEXT.. Miss Douglas County 2016 Savannah Rave!

To read more about this year’s contestants, or the Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s OT classes of 2015 & 2014, click the THERE SHE IS link at the top of the page!

Amazing Grace

As I talk to each of the young women competing to become Miss Nebraska or Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, I consistently hear about how much they appreciate the friendships and sisterhood that develop from these pageants.  Over the years, I’ve seen past competitors reconnecting long after Miss Nebraska is over, some even bridesmaids in each other’s weddings.  To me, it speaks volumes of this program, and of a young woman’s character when she is someone her fellow contestants want to be around before, during, and after the competition.

Today’s featured contestant seems to be a friend to everyone, on stage and off.

image16

MISS SCOTTS BLUFF COUNTY’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 GRACE HEGGEM

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“My favorite part of competition is probably the Talent portion, however, I love the ‘behind the scenes’ aspect even more!” Grace told me recently.  “I love competing because it is a fantastic opportunity to meet and get to know some amazing young women I would have otherwise never met!  I always know that no matter what the outcome of the pageant is, many of the friendships will last much longer than a title.”

image13  image15  IMG_6577

L-R: Grace with Miss Western Nebraska’s OT Allison Baird, ‘rocking out’ with Miss Douglas County’s OT Steffany Lien and Miss Kearney Crane Festival’s OT Merrilee Prill, and with Miss Omaha Megan Gould

Grace is also proud of the relationships she’s built in her hometown of Scottsbluff through activities both in and out of school.  The 15-year old at Scottsbluff High participates in Key Club, Choir, musical Orchestra, dance, and piano (which she’ll be play for her talent), in addition to competing in volleyball and track.

image4  image12

“I love putting on gowns and heels and walking on a stage, however, I feel just as at home in my tennis shoes and sweats on a crowded bus before a volleyball game,” said Grace.  “I love that I can do both and still have a little extra time for some ballet shoes.”

Grace credits the small-town atmosphere of Scottsbluff for allowing her to be so easily involved, an environment that’s also inspired her personal platform, mentoring.

image1  10527588_1508295109388905_1386103605517610004_n

“I love being a mentor to kids in my community because of the trusting, loving relationships it builds,” said Grace.  “I love picking them up and taking them out for ice cream or to the park where we can run around and play until we can’t run anymore!  Seeing the excitement in their eyes really leaves an impact on me as well.  If you just donate a couple of hours of your time every week to a child you see is in need, it really is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on their life.”

You certainly don’t need a crown to be a mentor (“Anyone can be a mentor!” said Grace).  So why compete in a pageant? Or, in the case of Grace, who also competed for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen last year, why CONTINUE to compete in pageants?  Grace says she was first intrigued by scholarships; in 2014, Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestants were awarded $2,900 in scholarships.  That number will increase to $3,600 this year.

IMG_4571  10583973_1514743905410692_4552027692402858180_n  image6

“I continue to compete not only for the scholarships but also because {pageants} build great life skills in general,” said Grace.  “Public speaking, poise and confidence are just a few of the very important traits this wonderful organization brings out in young women.  It is an honor to be a part of it and I hope to be for a long time!”‘

And based on pictures like this..

10552379_1515684605316622_2711986794374419017_n

    ..I think it’s safe to say her pageant sisters hope Grace Heggem is part of their lives for a long time, too.  These girls are still competitors for one stressful, non-stop week this June.  They NEED a friend like Grace Heggem;  relatable, down-to-earth, ‘fun and classic yet very relaxed’, as Grace described herself.

“Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined.” –Miss America Organization

GRACE.  Nebraska’s Grace is ready for North Platte.

10534131_1513613548857061_7767607021172435834_n

Follow Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Grace Heggem

on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Click here for a special feature on Grace on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page.

To contact Grace for appearances and events, and for more information about the Miss Scotts Bluff County’s Outstanding Teen Pageant contact Cheryl Engelhaupt by phone at 308-783-2940 or by email at cengelhaupt@fnbnp.com.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. SPECIAL FEATURE: The Future of Miss Nebraska

NEXT.. Miss Panhandle 2015 Jessica Littlejohn

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.

Just Add Glitter

We are only four contestants in to this year’s series profiling the 2015 Miss Nebraska/Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen contestants, and I am already seeing a trend.. ENERGY.  Nonstop energy.
School. Activities. Volunteering. Leave when it’s dark, come home when it’s dark.  NEVER stop smiling.

Maybe it’s this 34-year old body.  Maybe it’s being a momma to two little boys who never stop running (and I thank God everyday for that.)  Maybe it’s because my Scooters mug is never quite full enough.  But I am exhausted FOR these girls; WHERE do they find their energy?

Case in point, today’s featured titleholder is participating in ten extra-curricular activities. TEN.

11042053_732563213530217_1663404798_n

MISS WESTERN NEBRASKA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 ALLISON BAIRD

(Photo courtesy Jenn Cady Photography)

“I spend long days and evenings at {Gering High School} making sure every project is finished and every speech is practiced,” Allison told me recently.  “I’m lucky if I see my parents some days, and although it’s overwhelming I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I never feel like I’m spread too thin because nothing feels like work.”

Fun or not, Allison is involved in A LOT.  (Again, TEN different activities in and out of school!) She’s involved at church, in Cheer/Dance, Student Council, Key Club, Girls State (one of two selected to represent western Nebraska), Varsity Show Choir, Drama, Speech, she’s the editor-in-chief of the school paper, and recent national qualifier for DECA.

11042083_732563566863515_481590018_n  11056794_732563596863512_2074389354_n  going to DECA nationals

How could this girl possibly fit one more thing in her schedule?  And why?

“The opportunity to be able to represent my favorite state at Miss America, the chance to grow as a person, meet new people and share my ideas is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Allison.  “I’m competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen because I want to be able to expand what I’ve been able to do with my local title across the entire state.”

11051641_732563673530171_1357789038_n

When Allison was crowned Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, she didn’t just dream of big things, she immediately kicked off a plan to make big things happen.

“My platform is Digital Citizenship: Learning To Live Responsibly Online.  In an increasingly growing technology-using society, it’s naive to think we can get away from it,” said Allison.  “Sure, there are negative effects to use of internet, social media in particular, but rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, or fearing it, it’s time we embrace the use of technology by educating youth, teens and adults on how to ‘live’ online respectfully, responsibly and safely.”

11042228_732563190196886_492183304_n

“Digital Citizenship isn’t only about recognizing and dealing with online hazards,” said Allison.  “{It’s} about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage your personal information and about being internet savvy, using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way and inspiring others to do the same.”

THIS is what Allison wants to talk about, and one of the reasons she says Interview is her favorite part of the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen competition.

11039979_732563370196868_1706850239_n

“I love how vulnerable this particular part of the competition is,” said Allison.  “It’s the one time that the judges get to see the real, raw me.  I can share the passions, goals and aspirations I have.  No rehearsal, no preparation, just me.  I love that.”

So who is Allison Baird at the end of the day?  When this high school junior closes her speech notes, puts away her crown, and adds another DECA trophy to her shelf, who is she really?

11039436_732563406863531_918936931_n 11041363_732563556863516_220115238_n

“All of these activities have made me who I am today, but underneath everything, I’m still just a normal teenage girl,” said Allison.  “Netflix and sweatpants are my best friend on a free Saturday night (on the rare occasion there is one).”

I’ll have to disagree with Allison here.  Normal? No.  Exceptional? For sure.  Allison also competed for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen last year, and finished 1st Runner-Up.  Soon after, here’s what she posted on Facebook:

253211_641098782676661_3287378378623336731_n  10489936_607901629329710_1195810025046778933_n

“THIS is why I love pageants. The sisterhood is so strong. Win or lose, even after the crown is gone, these girls are forever.”

Graceful.  Positive.  EXCEPTIONAL.

“The Miss America Organization and the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen {pageant} specifically are empowering the women of our state and country’s future,” said Allison.  “{This is} a program that fosters scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement in the future leaders, the movers and shakers across the state of Nebraska.  Who wouldn’t want to support that?”

So maybe with Allison, and all of these girls, the question isn’t about energy, it’s about MAKEUP. No, not MAC or Sephora… young women like Allison Baird are made of GLITTER; they don’t buckle under pressure, they thrive on it.  They don’t crash, they fly.  They don’t sweat, they sparkle.  And Gering, Nebraska is sending a shining star to North Platte.

11042063_732563513530187_766873272_n

Follow Miss Western Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Allison Baird

on Instagram, and on Twitter.

Click here for a special profile on Allison posted on the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page!

To contact Allison for appearances and events, please visit the Miss Western Nebraska/Miss Gering Pageant on Facebook.

For more information on becoming a contestant, contact Director Kyla Ansley by phone at 308-631-0938 or by email at kyla_ansley@hotmail.com.

***

The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte.  Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

PREVIOUS.. Miss Panhandle’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Marie Kliewer

NEXT.. **SPECIAL FEATURE** The Future of Miss Nebraska

To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.