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Teen pageant contestant turns to mom for inspriation

November 01, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

BOONSBORO - As a child, Krystal Kennedy idolized the poised and elegant contestants in the national beauty pageants that she and her family viewed on television.

Now the junior at Boonsboro High School might be one of those contestants.

Krystal, 16, will compete Nov. 27-28 against young women from throughout the state in the Miss Maryland Teen USA pageant at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor.

The winner from that competition will represent the state in the nationally televised 18th annual Miss Teen USA pageant in Shreveport, La., in August 2000.

The experience will be a first for Krystal, who is the daughter of J. Todd and Devina Kennedy, of Boonsboro.

"I've always wanted to be in some sort of pageant. I thought it would be fun," Krystal said. "The contestants always looked so elegant and seemed confident in themselves."

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But it isn't beauty queens who now inspire the teen-ager.

"I look up most to my mom," Krystal said.

Devina Kennedy's attendance to the needs of her husband and three children has remained constant despite an eight-year battle with heart and lung disease, Krystal said.

Her mother has been a role model to Krystal, and the teen said she will strive to be a positive figure if she wins the national contest.

"I remember how I used to look up to the high school soccer players when I was just a little kid playing soccer," she said. "I would just try to be the best role model I could be for the younger kids."

Miss Teen USA and its state preliminaries are open to female U.S. citizens at least 15 and under 19 years of age by July 1 in the year in which they compete in the national competition, according to the pageant's Web site.

Entrants compete in three evenly weighted phases of competition, including Interview, Evening Wear and Swimwear. This year's state contest features the preliminary competition on Friday, Nov. 27, and the finals on Saturday, Nov. 28.

Krystal sent in pictures of herself after she received information in the mail about the state competition, she said.

To gain an invitation to the pageant, she then had to ace a phone interview, complete a detailed application and pay a registration fee, she said.

Those initial steps proved easy compared to subsequent pageant preparations, she said.

Krystal had to raise nearly $700 in sponsorship fees to defray pageant costs, she said. That goal was exceeded through the generosity of family, friends and area businesses, Krystal added.

She then wrote thank-you notes, shopped for pageant attire and make-up, and is arranging an appointment for hair styling tips.

Krystal will take the stage in a strapless black ball gown with faux feather trim at the top of the bodice- the first dress she tried on, she said.

"It was just perfect."

She is still searching for her one-piece swimsuit, which must be worn with heels, Krystal said.

Her friends tease her about the swimwear/shoe combination, she said.

"Who wears heels with a bathing suit?"

Juggling pageant details, school

Krystal is juggling such pageant details with her course load and extracurricular involvements.

She plays on the Boonsboro High Varsity Soccer team and for other local soccer clubs, participates in the Junior Class Cabinet, S.A.D.D., Student Council, Foreign Language Club and Fellowship for Christian Athletes.

Krystal also has played on the Boonsboro High track team and basketball team.

"I'm a unique person who really just wants to get through high school and college and make something of myself," she said.

She is participating in the pageant "more or less for the fun of it," but winning the teen beauty contests would boost her chances at success, said Krystal, who hopes to pursue a career in drama.

The teen titleholder for the 1999 national pageant won $20,000 worth of cash scholarships, according to the Miss Teen USA Web site.

She also earned a $30,000 salary under her employment contract with the pageant's sponsor, the Miss Universe Organization, which is a partnership between Donald Trump and CBS television.

Miss Teen USA winners serve as one-year representatives of the Miss Universe Organization, promoting the organization's official charities, making celebrity appearances, and acting as spokeswomen for drug awareness.

Last year's winner also gained representation by the William Morris Agency, a personal appearance wardrobe, a monitoring program specifically designed for her career goals and CBS casting opportunities.

That titleholder won more than $12,000 in cash prizes, $7,500 in prepaid phonecards and sponsor gifts ranging from a new convertible to luggage, according to the Web site.

Such enticements can lead to competition ferocities, and Krystal said she's a bit worried that some veteran beauty contestants might go to extremes to place well.

"I've heard some horror stories," she said. "I really hope it's not like that."

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