By Kendra Hartsell
An 11-year-old resident of Monticello will be competing for a crown on June 1, 2013 in the preteen age division of the National American Miss (NAM) Pageant in Bloomington.
Hannah Monhardt is a fifth-grade student at Kaleidoscope Charter School in Otsego.
She is involved in many activities, including mural club, after-school pin guard, LEGO league, science fairs, cribbage club, piano lessons and band. She also enjoys playing cards with the elderly and loves to draw, paint and read.
The National American Miss Pageants are dedicated to celebrating America’s future leaders and equipping them with lifelong skills.
This is why Hannah’s mother, Margaret, is so supportive of Hannah participating in the pageant.
“At first I didn’t want her to do it … but the concept of interviewing and getting in front of people – those are lifelong skills! It is an opportunity to be around people with different lifestyles. Children Hannah’s age don’t always get to do that,” said Margaret. She was also pleased that there is no competition for talents, no swimsuit competition and also no makeup allowed for the 13 and under division.
Hannah and her mother both agree that the preparation has been a lot more work than they were anticipating. Some of the things they have had to do is get professional photos taken, gather sponsorships, figure out how to style her hair, and buy a new dress and shoes.
They have already had some interesting experiences. While shopping for a dress, they met a woman who had participated in the Miss America Pageant and a woman who was in the Miss Minnesota Pageant.
She received some valuable advice from both of them.
One of the women told Hannah, “Don’t worry. Stand tall, no rounded shoulders and don’t look down.” The other woman said, “Just be yourself!”
Oddly enough, the most difficult part of their experience so far has been finding shoes that are an appropriate height for Hannah to walk in.
“Every pair of shoes we find is too high!” said Hannah.
They also had a hard time finding an age-appropriate gown and interview outfit.
The experience thus far has been a great bonding experience for Hannah and her mother.
“It has been such a learning experience for both of us,” said Margaret. “I want her to do well but I still want her to be her.”
Is Hannah nervous for the actual pageant?
“Yes, I am very, very nervous,” she said.
“I’m nervous to go on stage in front of a bunch of people, when everyone is focused on me.”
Hannah’s interview, formal wear and personal introduction each count for 30 percent of her total score, while her community involvement counts for 10 percent.
Hannah is also looking forward to the day of the pageant.
“I’m excited about actually being in the pageant,” Hannah said. “Not everyone gets to be part of a life-changing experience like this.”
The winner of the pageant will receive a $1,000 cash award, the official crown and banner, a bouquet of roses and air transportation to compete in the National Pageant in California where she will receive an exciting complimentary Tour of Hollywood and two V.I.P. tickets to Disneyland.
Each year the pageant nationally awards 1.5 million dollars in cash, scholarships and other prizes.
The pageant program is based on inner-beauty, as well as poise and presentation, and offers an “All-American spirit of fun for family and friends.”
Emphasis is put on the importance of developing self-confidence, learning good sportsmanship and setting and achieving personal goals. The pageant recognizes the accomplishments of each girl while encouraging her to set goals for her future.Hannah’s sponsors include Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, David’s Photography, Hidden Acres Pet Resort, Central MN Orthodontics and Capernaum Pediatric Therapy.
Kendra Hartsell is a Monticello Times freelance features writer.