As Abby Wolfe gave the run-down of her daily schedule at a weeklong national pageant, up before 6 a.m. every day and in bed close to midnight, eight-hour rehearsals and three-hour photo shoots, she showed no signs of weariness.
She should be tired, most would be tired, but she smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear and detailed the exhaustive past two weeks, including her first few days of her junior year of high school, with all the poise and eloquence one would expect from a finalist in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant.
Wolfe holds the title of Miss North Dakota’s Outstanding Teen 2013, which she obtained in early June. She returned Monday afternoon from the national pageant in Orlando, Fla., where young women from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., competed for the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
The Miss America pageant circuit promotes itself as a scholarship organization, dedicated to the development of the communication skills, civic engagement, healthy lifestyles, academic interests and self-esteem in its contestants. The Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization awarded more than $100,000 in scholastic scholarships to its contestants at last week’s pageant.
The humble Century High School junior won’t tell you this, but she made North Dakota pageant history with her performance in Orlando. She placed in the top eight finalists of the pageant, the first Miss North Dakota Outstanding Teen to have broken the top 12.
She advanced beyond the preliminaries, which thinned the pool of competitors to 12, and two further rounds of eliminations before placing in the top eight competitors of the pageant. After competing in evening wear and answering an onstage question, the top four competitors were announced.
The first few days of the pageant began for the young women with a series of rehearsals as they prepared for the four days of competition. There were several dance and entertainment pieces that the contestants had to prepare for.
The first day of the pageant, for example, the contestants checked in, participated in a photo shoot, a few social events, and held a four-hour rehearsal. The following day commenced with an eight-hour rehearsal and several more networking and socializing events, and the schedule continued like this throughout the week. Wolfe estimates she got around five to six hours of sleep a night for the duration of the pageant.
Wolfe admits the rigor of the pageant and rehearsals demanded a certain level of “mental stamina,” but, she said, “The whole experience was just so much fun that you really don’t get tired out because there was always something new and exciting going on keeping you on your toes the whole time.”
Wolfe’s mother, Penny, said the finished product of the strenuous rehearsals was a testament to the hard work and driven nature of the contestants, and the professionalism of the pageant.
“It was a beautiful, professional show,” she said.
Her daughter laughed off the stereotype of the win-at-all-costs, sabotaging pageant queen. She said the contestants were there to support one another and that it didn’t even “feel like a competition, it felt more like a presentation.”
The pageant itself is very careful to monitor any kind “sabotage” of fellow contestants, but Wolfe said it was largely unnecessary.
“We weren’t even focused on the competition, we were focused on each other,” Wolfe said. “And learning and growing as people through the experience that the pageant provided us.”
In fact, Wolfe’s favorite aspect of the competition was hanging out and rehearsing with the like-minded young women she could truly relate to and “be herself” with. As contestants in the pageant, she said, “everyone is poised and put together and polished, but we are still teenage girls, and we’re fun and we like to joke around.”
“I can now say I have a sister in every state in the country,” she said.
Penny Wolfe said she has “nothing bad to say” about the Miss America pageant circuit.
“(All of the contestants) are poised, they’re hard workers, they are doing good in their communities, they are raising money for Children’s Miracle Network and they’re own platforms, and they are carrying high-level academic loads,” she said.
In particular, she admires the non-profit organization’s dedication to the academic futures and to financing the academic pursuits of its contestants. The pageant even held a college and career fair for the contestants during the pageant, she said.
Wolfe is preparing for her year as Miss North Dakota’s Outstanding Teen. She will promote her platform, “Giving Rise to Butterflies: Helping Special Needs,” throughout the state.
Wolfe’s final words on the experience were a message of encouragement to others to participate in pageants.
“I would encourage anyone who’s considered (pageants) to do it, because you might surprise yourself,” she said. “You don’t have to be a prim and proper little beauty queen to participate in a pageant. There isn’t a typical pageant girl, so if it’s something that you are interested in trying, go for it. You will almost definitely have the time of your life.”