It’s Pageant Week in Pratt. Actually, there are two pageants: the Miss Kansas Pageant, which has been held here every summer since 1955, and Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen, which debuted in Pratt in 2004 and has been a companion to the Miss competition for nine years, with the pageant held in Pratt in most of those years.
With similar objectives — promoting scholastic achievement, a passion for performing, a dedication to a healthy lifestyles and commitment to community — the Teen pageant is also different from the Miss pageant.
Contestants submit an application, pay a $275 fee and chose their own title — they don’t compete in established local pageants or festivals, as the Miss contestants do.
The titleholder makes appearances on behalf of the Miss Kansas Organization, promotes her own platform and acts as an ambassador for the national platform of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program and for the Children’s Miracle Network, in partnership with the Miss America Organization. She is however, a high school or even middle school student, and that takes top priority.
The judging system is also slightly different:
• Private interview is worth 30 percent.
• Scholastic achievement counts for 5 percent. A separate judging panel of educators reviews official report cards, transcripts and the contestant resumes. This information is not shared with anyone, including the traditional pageant panel of judges. The scores are given to the auditor to be included in the judging process.
• Lifestyles and fitness, judged in workout wear, is worth 10 percent.
• Talent is 35 percent of the score.
• Evening wear and on-stage question are combined, with a weighting of 20 percent.
Fifteen teen contestants arrive in Pratt on Wednesday and their pageant is held at 2 p.m. Friday at Pratt Community College Carpenter Auditorium. Tickets are $15.
An important goal of the teen program is to introduce 13- to 17-year-olds to the Miss Kansas Organization, with the anticipation that a positive experience as a teen will lead to participation in the Miss program. To date, 16 teens have made the transition, several have advanced to the semi-finals or finals and won preliminary or special awards.
The 2012 Miss Kansas competition includes four former teens: Amber Seevers, who competed in 2009; Chelsea Chilcott, a 2008 competitor and 2009 Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen; Belinda Post, who competed as a teen in 2005 and is making her sixth try for the Miss Kansas title; and Kaiti Hemann, a 2008 competitor.