Local girls prepare for Miss Michigan pageants

By Lori Hansen • Last Updated 9:52 am on Friday, May 31, 2013


SIDNEY — Two young women in two different organizations are preparing for two different contests, yet they each have one goal — to come away with the crown.

Alisha Gatchel, 15, the daughter of Carl and Holly Gatchel of Greenville, will compete as the Miss Heartland Outstanding Teen in the Miss Michiga Outstanding Teen program on June 11 and 12 while Miss Danish Festival Emily Smith, 18, the daughter of Daniel and Mari Smith of Greenville, will be one of 33 contestants in the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant June 13, 14 and 15. The contests take place at the Frauenthal Theatre. Contestants bring their luggage on June 8, then move in June 9 for a week-long stay.

As part of the preparation, the Miss Heartland Scholarship Pageant is sponsoring a Miss Michigan Send off party for Gatchel and Miss Heartland Elizabeth Johnson of Plymouth on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Montcalm Community College. The public is invited to join in the celebration.

“We will have a style show where the girls will model their wardrobes for the Miss Michigan competition, and they will perform their talent piece and will socialize with those attending,” Miss Heartland co-director Cheryl Smith said. “It is fun for them and gives us a chance to add the final touches before they go to Muskegon.”

The contestants are judged in different phases of competition: lifestyle and physical fitness, presence and poise in evening wear, on-stage question, artistic expression in talent and private interview.

“Besides the competition, we have appearances all week and dinners and get to enjoy a ride on the Princess cruise ship,” said Gatchel, who also competed last year as an at-large contestant. “It is really a very fun week where you meet a lot of people and make a lot of connections.”

For her talent phase, Gatchel will accompany herself on a self-written vocal piece titled “Stronger Than This.”

“I really like it as it also goes along with my platform, which is pediatric cancer,” said Gatchel, who is finishing up her sophomore year at Greenville High School. “I feel most confident in talent and interview, where I can interact more with the judges and get the chance for them to know me a little better.”

All 32 Outstanding Teen contestants will participate in preliminary rounds Tuesday and Wednesday, preceding the judges’ announcement of top 10.

The 10 advance to the final rounds on Wednesday evening.

“Alisha is all set to go,” Smith said. “She is very competent in all phases of competition, she does awesome in interview and really stands out in talent. She is very strong all the way around.”

As Miss Danish Festival, Emily Smith has completed mock interviews, practiced walking on stage and polished her solo selection, and will be appearing on the Miss Michigan stage for the first time.

After graduating on Sunday from Greenville High School, Smith’s parents will hold a combined graduation open house/send-off party on Thursday at Hathaway Properties.

“Emily has really great parents who have helped out, and been very involved in making this happen,” Miss Danish Festival Director Carol Warner said.

“Her mom Mari especially has had a big part in helping with outfits, and making this a very positive experience for Emily.”

As contestant No. 30 of the 33, Smith will compete in talent and on-stage question in the Thursday evening preliminary round, the swimwear and evening gown on Friday. All contestants participate in an opening dance number before the top ten contestant’s names are announced for Saturday’s program.

“Emily is an all-around great contestant. She is very poised and confident on stage, her singing ability is right there, too. She interviews well, and is well prepared,” Warner said.

Completing a busy senior year with involvement in the high school Village Green singers and dramas, Smith plans to continue her education by studying voice at the college level.

The current Miss Danish Festival usually helps in preparing the next Miss Danish Festival pageant in August,” Warner said. “I am a little bit worried that is Emily is chosen as Miss Michigan, she won’t be around to help. She will be under the Miss Michigan authority and they may not allow her to come back to her local pageant.”

Regardless of the outcome, Warner knows the experience will be great.

“I think most of the girls leave knowing it was a life-changing experience,” said Warner, “No matter where you place, there is scholarship money available to help further the girls’ education. It is a great opportunity.”

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