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Contestants take to stage in first night of Junior Miss 2002 competition

By Staff
OPENING NUMBER Contestants in the Mississippi Junior Miss 2002 program take to the Temple Theatre stage Thursday in an opening fanfare based on this year's theme, "A Junior Miss Adventure." Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown/The Meridian Star
Aug. 3, 2001
Excitement permeated the Temple Theatre Thursday evening as 40 senior high school girls participated in the first of three nights of competition in the 2002 Mississippi Junior Miss Program.
The audience broke out in thunderous applause when the contestants first appeared for the evening. In keeping with this year's theme, "A Junior Miss Adventure," a safari setting graced the stage as contestants wore multi-colored tops, black capri pants and safari hats.
After the introduction of master of ceremonies Sen. Terry C. Burton, the first of four talent presentation installments was presented. Each of the segments featured five members from the Diamond Group, half of the Junior Miss contestants. The preliminary counts 25 percent of the candidates' score. Judging is based on originality, technical ability, appropriateness of selection and costume and stage presence.
In between the talent presentations, Lindsey Miller, Mississippi's Junior Miss 2001, made an appearance on stage. She spoke briefly about her year as the state's Junior Miss, the national competition and life after her title ends.
The fitness routine also was presented during the evening and featured the Sapphire Group, the remaining half of the contestants. Choreographed by program choreographer and local dance instructor Suzie McCraw, the high-energy performance included crunches, jumps, push-ups, lunges and other aerobically challenging moves. During the presentation which counts 15 percent judges evaluated coordination, stamina, agility, posture and carriage without regard to physique or athleticism.
The Sapphire Group also was featured in the poise preliminary. Dressed in white gowns, the contestants held Spanish-style fans as they walked across the stage to flamingo-style music. During the segment, which counts 15 percent of each contestant's total score, judges consider the elements of grace, poise under pressure, ability to communicate effectively, grooming and naturalness in posture and carriage.
Also during the preliminary, each contestant responded to the question: "If you could take a guest on a Mississippi adventure, where would you take them and why?" Responses included the Gulf Coast, a boat ride up the Mississippi, Natchez, Vicksburg and several of the state's university campuses.
The remaining 45 percent of contestants' evaluations is behind-the-scenes.
The judges interview, which counts 25 percent, is a 10-minute interview and discussion session with each contestant. Judges look for perception, a sense of values, clarity of expression, concern for others and ability in human relations. Scholastic achievement, 20 percent, is conducted by a panel of qualified judges from the local area who review and rate transcripts of grades in core classes, college prep classes, electives, and scores on scholastic tests and college entrance examinations.
Contestants are critiqued by a panel of judges following the same criteria used at all levels of the the Junior Miss program.
The evening culminated with all of the contestants returning to the stage dressed in pink polka-dot pajamas and wearing various oversized animal house slippers as the performed a routine to "Good Morning." They were joined on stage by Miller.
The competition continues tonight and will conclude with the announcement of the preliminary winners. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Ida Brown is special sections editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3224, or e-mail ibrown@themeridianstar.com.