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Practicing for bigger crown

Miss Maryland pageant begins Wednesday

Miss Maryland pageant begins Wednesday

June 25, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

With her best winning smile spread across her face, Miss Washington County Carrie Shank launched into a 45-second speech aimed at convincing four strangers that she should be crowned Miss Maryland 2006.

Over the next 10 minutes those same strangers grilled Shank on her pageant platform, on Washington County trivia and on the plight of America's farmers.

But that was just a practice run of what Shank will experience this week during the interview phase of the Miss Maryland competition.

The real thing is likely to be much more intense, with many more judges asking questions at a rapid-fire pace, returning Miss Maryland contestants say.

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The interview portion of the pageant accounts for 25 percent of a contestant's overall score, second only to the talent competition, which accounts for 35 percent. Contestants know that what happens in front of the interview judges could make or break their chances of making it into the top 10.

The contestant interview is one of the most unpredictable parts of the competition, contestants say. No topic is off-limits and Miss Maryland hopefuls often are asked about random Maryland trivia and policy issues about current events.

Shank, 22, who lives west of Boonsboro, spent the past week brushing up on her interview skills, practicing the song she'll perform on The Maryland Theatre stage and perfecting her walk and smile for clothing competitions.

"The judges really consider and look at the interview because as Miss Maryland that's what you're going to be doing more of," Shank says, referring to the public speaking role Miss Maryland takes on.

It's a job that Shank is ready - and more than willing - to accept. But so are 23 other young women from across the state, all of whom will be competing this week for the same title.

"I do have a lot of expectations this year," says Miss Western Maryland Autumn Smith. "I'm in it to win it."

Smith was fourth runner-up at 2005's Miss Maryland competition - her first year competing at the state level. She also won scholarship awards for rookie contestant of the year and best newcomer talent. Smith is hoping her strong performance last year and a total commitment to competing this year will help her be a strong competitor.

Shank will be one of the many contestants in the newcomer role this year. The South Hagerstown High School graduate never competed in a Miss America pageant before she entered the Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland contest in February.

Aside from showing a few blue-ribbon cows while competing with the 4-H Club, "this is the first thing I ever won," she says.

For Shank, winning the title of her home county was a great honor.

"Being proud of where I'm from, being Miss Washington County is exciting to me," she says.

She also has enjoyed working on her platform - the importance of volunteerism - in her hometown area.

She's guided elementary school students in making cards for elderly people living in assisted-care facilities, spoken about volunteerism at different community volunteer organizations and helped senior citizens in an assisted-living facility sign cards for a terminally ill child.

Every time she talks about her platform, she gets more enthusiastic about volunteering, she says.

"Volunteering is definitely a value. That is what I'm trying to instill in (young children) hoping that it will continue to build in their life," she says.

Shank, the daughter of Sharon and John Shank II, grew up on her family's dairy farm between Funks-town and Boonsboro. When she was 10, her family shifted to raising beef cattle. She remains involved with her family's farming and still helps out with the herd when she's home.

Her upbringing and her involvement with the 4-H Club have helped her get ready for the Miss Maryland pageant, she adds.

Growing up farming "made me modest and very appreciative because I know what hard work is," she says. "4-H builds a strong understanding of rules, deadlines and sportsmanship. You prepared for a fair at least three to four months in advance."

If you go to the pageant ...



WHAT: Miss Maryland Organization pageants

WHEN: Preliminary competitions at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 28, and Thursday, June 29; Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen Pageant at 8 p.m. Friday, June 30; final night of competitions for Miss Maryland 2006 begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 1.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagers-town

COST: $20, Wednesday, June 28, and Thursday, June 29; $25, Friday, June 30; $40, Saturday, July 1.

MORE: For more information or to order tickets, call 301-790-3500 or go to www.mdtheatre.org.




Schedule for pageant and other events

Today

1 p.m.: Miss Maryland sign-in ceremony and Maryland Princess crowning at Prime Outlets, south of Hagerstown

3 p.m.: Miss Maryland contestant fashion show and autograph signing at Prime Outlets

4:45 p.m.: Miss Maryland contestant autograph session at Hagerstown Suns pregame event, Municipal Stadium

Monday, June 26

9:30 a.m.: Miss Maryland contestant swimsuit photo shoot, City Park, Hagerstown

7 p.m.: Boogie party at Jay's Lounge, $5. Best Western Grand Venice Hotel, Dual Highway, Hagerstown.

Wednesday, June 28

8 p.m.: Miss Maryland Preliminary Competition, The Maryland Theatre, Hagerstown

Thursday, June 29

8 p.m.: Miss Maryland Preliminary Competition, The Maryland Theatre, Hagerstown

11 p.m.: Top 10 party, Rome Room, Best Western Grand Venice Hotel, Hagerstown

Friday, June 30

8 p.m.: Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen Pageant, The Maryland Theatre, Hagerstown

10:30 p.m.: After Glow event, $10, Perkins Restaurant, Dual Highway, Hagerstown. Specialty awards announced, cake and light refreshments.

Saturday, July 1

12:30 p.m.: Luncheon with Miss America Jennifer Berry, $25, Best Western Grand Venice Hotel ballroom.

8 p.m.: Miss Maryland Pageant

11 p.m.: After Glow event, $10, Best Western Grand Venice Hotel ballroom

To purchase tickets call Courtney Thomas at 1-301-724-0454.

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