MOUNT VERNON — The 52nd annual Ohio Junior Miss Scholarship Program began Friday night with a display of talent and entertainment.
Hosted by 2008 Ohio Junior Miss Lauren Gessner and 2008 America’s Junior Miss Lindsey Brinton, the evening opened with a dance number by the 27 participants to the hit song “I gotta feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.
Also participating in the night’s festivities was 2009 Ohio Junior Miss Yelena Arishina, who gave a special piano performance to the song “River Flows in You,” by Yiruma.
The first category of evaluation was led by the blue group, contestants Nos. 15-28, with the fitness portion of the competition. The routine incorporates dance and aerobics to the song “Tribal dance” by 2 Unlimited, and in the final score counts for 15 percent. Not only does each contestant perform as a group a choreographed routine, but they each must act individually on their own. During this time, judges look for the stamina, agility, posture, carriage, and overall strength of each young woman.
This year’s theme “Look at her dance... I gotta Feeling,” incited the creative ability of each participant. The talent portion was performed by the red group contestants Nos. 1-14, and is 25 percent of the final score. As each young woman performed various forms of artistry, from dance to vocal to instrumental, and even a few oddities, the talent continued to shine.
Chelsea Barney, Preble County Junior Miss, did a energetic clogging dance routine to the song “Lets get loud” by Jennifer Lopez, and had the crowd clapping along to the beat.
Greater Mahoning County Junior Miss, Joelle Ballone, displayed her desire to study dance with her Jazz dance performance to the song “I gotcha” from the Broadway musical “Fosse.”
Sarah Escape, Westerville Junior Miss, wowed the audience with her rendition of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus while playing the piano.
The program also involves a section created to reveal self-expression through poise, modeling and overall character. To display their ability to think on their feet, each contestant in the blue group randomly selected a question that they answered before the audience and judges. The questions reflected social concerns faced within society, and this portion also counts for 15 percent of the final score.
At the conclusion of Friday’s program, state awards were given. Winning overall in the Be Your Best Self category was Cuyahoga County Junior Miss Cassidy Artz; the two finalists were Union County Junior Miss Melissa Fink and Westerville Junior Miss Sarah Escape. The Spirit Award was presented to Central Delaware County Junior Miss Brittany Flannigan.
The night was not complete without the finale performed by the Do-Dads to the theme “School Days.” The entertainment brought many laughs from the audience as the 27 young women danced with their host dads.
Final awards will be presented tonight, with the program beginning at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Theater.