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Miss Md. contestants sign up for crowning ceremony

June 16, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - The Valley Mall food court sparkled with the glitter of about four dozen rhinestone tiaras Sunday afternoon as this year's Miss Maryland contestants participated in a sign-in ceremony and crowned this year's Maryland Princesses.

The event was the Miss Maryland contestants' first public appearance in a weeklong visit to Hagerstown that will culminate in the crowning of this year's Miss Maryland at The Maryland Theatre on Saturday night.

In Sunday's ceremony, each of the 20 Miss Maryland contestants spoke briefly about her platform and signed her name near her home county on a map of Maryland.

The contestants also crowned this year's Maryland Princesses, girls 3 to 12 years old from around the state whom the contestants will mentor throughout the year.

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"It's really exciting because it's our first event as a group and our first event in Hagerstown," said Miss Cumberland, Whitney Colombo, 18, of Hagerstown.

Colombo, a student at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., is one of three contestants from or representing Washington County in the competition. Competing for the Miss Maryland title for her second year, Colombo plans to perform a jazz dance selection in the talent competition and advocate for physical fitness in youth.

Miss Black-Eyed Susan, Gretchen Schoeck, 18, also is a Hagerstown resident. She said speaking Sunday was "a little nerve-racking" because this is her first year competing in pageants and she hasn't yet appeared publicly as Miss Black-Eyed Susan.

"I'm still getting the hang of it," she said.

Schoeck, a 2008 North Hagerstown High School graduate, will perform a piano selection in the talent competition and promote a program she founded with her twin brother to collect used sports gear for local children.

Miss Washington County, Christie Ganoe, 22, of Cumberland, Md., is competing for the Miss Maryland crown for the second time. She said she changed her talent performance from singing to jazz dance this year to help her stand out from the crowd.

Ganoe, a Frostburg State University student, said she plans to use her platform to promote the Ophelia Project, which advocates for awareness and prevention of bullying.

More information on the Miss Maryland Organization, including profiles of this year's contestants and a schedule of Miss Maryland Week events, is available online at www.missmd.info.

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