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Pageant preliminaries

June 18, 2004|by Chris Copley

HAGERSTOWN

chrisc@herald-mail.com

Before a cheering audience of family, friends and pageant fans, three women were named first-round winners in the Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant 2004's first night of competition Thursday.

Miss Caroline Summerfest Jessica Diaz won a $600 talent scholarship for her performance of "Havana," from Frank Wildhorn's Broadway musical "Havana."

Miss Allegany County Rachel Ellsworth won a $150 fitness in swimsuit scholarship. She wore a white two-piece suit with a gold clasp.

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Miss Frederick Priscilla Kellett won a $500 "newcomer" talent scholarship for her performance of "Angel," by Sarah McLachlan. This is Kellett's first year competing in the Miss Maryland pageant.

Thursday night was the first of three nights of competition at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown for the Miss Maryland crown. Contestants were divided into two groups of 12. Half presented their talent, modeled casualwear and took part in a brief, on-stage interview Thursday night; the other 12 contestants competed in the swimwear and evening gown events.

The groups will switch events tonight. Three more scholarships will be awarded for talent, newcomer talent and swimwear.

Judges select a pageant winner based on contestants' composite scores. After the seven judges score a contestant in an event, the highest and lowest scores are tossed out. The remaining scores are used to come up with the contestant's score in that event.

The casualwear event is new this year but is for demonstration only. The event was introduced by the Miss America program last year and will be incorporated into the Miss Maryland pageant scoring next year, according to Bev Bonarigo, producer of the Miss Maryland pageant.

The swimsuit and evening gown events each make up 10 percent of a contestant's total score. A two-minute, on-stage interview is another 10 percent. The talent event is 30 percent of the composite.

The remaining 40 percent of a contestant's score comes from a private, 12-minute, press conference-style interview with the full panel of judges. Bonarigo said judges do not hold back during the interview.

"The judges can ask you anything. Anything," she said. "The private interview is the greatest job interview practice in the world. That's what the Miss Maryland pageant is about - you learn to get your point across quickly."

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