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Crowning the queens: Innaugural pageant honors Miss Camellia, Miss Teen Camellia

Keturah Jackson was no stranger to the stage. After all, she'd been a candidate in the 2006 Miss Thomson High Pageant and for the THS Homecoming Court a few months earlier.


Miss Camellia 2006 Keturah Jackson reacts to being announced as the winner.

But she was still nervous as she drove to the Miss Camellia Pageant at the Thomson High Auditorium Saturday night.

"Before she came, she said 'Mama, I just have got to win this one, because I need this scholarship money,'" Cora Jackson, Keturah's mother, said after her daughter was crowned Miss Camellia. "I am so happy. It just feels good."

Keturah plans to use the scholarship money to help pursue her psychology and English majors at Augusta State University in the fall. She won't stop there, but will continue on to law school overseas.

In addition to the $300 scholarship, Miss Camellia's other winnings included an acrylic trophy, a $100 Wal-Mart gift certificate and automatic entry into the Miss Augusta Pageant in August.

"It is shocking and exciting all at the same time," she said. "Everybody put their all into it, so I knew I had to step up my game a little bit."

There were three contestants in the senior division - ages 18-23, of the Miss Camellia pageant, and eight competed in the junior division - ages 13-17, for the Miss Camellia Teen title. Other contestants in the senior division were Valerie Freeman and Amanda Stewart. Junior division contestants were Jennifer Wallace, Megan Connor, Rebecca Williams, Whitney Norris, Jasmine Lott, Elizabeth Joey, Caitlin Burnside and Meghan Sutton.

The Miss Camellia Teen crown went to Whitney Norris. Whitney's other awards included an acrylic trophy, a $50 Wal-Mart gift certificate, $100 savings bond and automatic entry in the Miss Augusta Outstanding Teen Pageant in August.

Half of the young ladies' score was tallied before they ever set foot on stage. Each one passed the preliminary phase of the competition through an interview with board members of the Chamber of Commerce, their level of involvement in the community and academic achievements, which counted 50 percent of their total score.

During the ceremony, the young ladies demonstrated their poise, stage presence and communication skills through a formal presentation and an on-stage interview. They also chose to participate in modeling sportswear, modeling a swim suit or showing off their talent in front of the audience that numbered slightly over 100.

"I love it, I think it's great," Linda Lively said during the intermission. "You just don't realize how much great talent we've got here in Thomson, until you see them."

For the talent competition, Meghan, Jasmine and Whitney each sang, and Elizabeth played the flute. Keturah dramatized a spiritual dance. Valerie danced a flag twirling routine she choreographed herself; and, Caitlin performed an energetic clogging routine with a modern twist.

"The last time my feet moved that fast, the Vietnamese were shooting at me," said audience member Roger Dowell, who came from Lincolnton.

Three girls showed off their athletic style by modeling sportswear, with Rebecca sporting a yellow golf shirt and khaki shorts, Megan wearing a mint green and white tennis outfit, and Jennifer decked out in a black sleeveless top with turquoise plaid volleyball shorts.

The lone swimsuit competitor was Amanda, who wore a floral bikini.

"I don't think I'm going to eat for at least a week after that. You look beautiful," said Jennifer McCall, who was Master of Ceremonies.

During the interview, the junior ladies were asked questions pertaining to their biographies, and the seniors were asked to speak about a platform they wished to implement in the community. The three platforms discussed were the importance of role models, overcoming illiteracy, and helping the homeless.

"It's not just about looking pretty in a dress. It's so much more," Ms. McCall said in an interview. "Pageants teach these ladies skills so we can have a productive America tomorrow. Teaching citizenship ... makes America a better place."

Preliminary Interviewers were Debbie Jones, Rachel McCall and Tommy Phelps. Pageant judges were Janice Reaves, Honey McGraw and Michelle Rocque.

In addition to being crowned Miss Cemellia Teen, Whitney also won the People's Choice and the Formal and Communication Awards. Valerie Freeman was voted by her peers to be Miss Congeniality, and Caitlin Burnside won the Academic and Community Service Award.

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Web posted on Thursday, June 22, 2006

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