GRAND RAPIDS — Alisha Gatchel has been involved — and won — local scholarship pageants such as the Young Miss Danish Festival Scholarship pageant and the Miss Heartland Outstanding Teen pageant.
The Greenville 16-year-old now has one more to add to her resume. She was crowned Miss Spirit of the State Outstanding Teen earlier this month.
Held at the Forty-One Sheldon theatre, the 12th annual Miss Spirit of the State and Miss Spirit of the State Outstanding Teen Scholarship pageant is an open event in which those who take the top spot qualify to become a contestant at the Miss Michigan or Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen Scholarship pageants.
“Honestly, I went into the pageant knowing I would be OK with the outcome, whatever it may be,” said Gatchel, who is about to begin her junior year at Greenville High School, “Every pageant has a new panel of judges, and you just go in and do the best you can.”
The event has five phases of competition — Private Interview, Evening Wear, Onstage Question, Talent and Physical Fitness. Gatchel wore a long white chiffon gown accented with silver to garner the Evening Wear Award and performed her self-composed piano/vocal presentation “Stronger Than This” to also bring home the Talent Award.
“We had our interviews Friday night (Aug. 9) and then the pageant was on Saturday, Aug. 10. I felt like it was one of the best interviews I had ever done,” said Gatchel, who is the daughter of Carl and Holly Gatchel.
Her onstage question was, “If you were given a million dollars, and had to spend it on yourself, and not give it to charity, how would you spend it?” She replied, “If I were given that much money, I would travel and explore new countries.”
Gatchel won the Young Miss Danish Festival three years ago and then competed as an at-large contestant at the Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen pageant. She was crowned Miss Heartland Outstanding Teen in February and vied for the Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen title this past June.
She now has until June 2014 to prepare as Miss Spirit of the State Outstanding Teen.
“This will be my last chance in the teen program as I am aging out,” she said, “And I am really excited about it!”
The Miss Spirit Of the State program will provide coaching and preparation for the state pageant by providing a wardrobe consultant who will create a custom evening gown and a talent outfit, hairdressers, make-up designers and coaches for various areas of talent, according to Miss Spirit of the State Pageant Director Noedea Skidmore.
“Alisha has such strong vocal and piano skills and we will have someone work with her to work on showmanship,” Skidmore said. “We will do all we can to prepare the girls for an overall package, but also make sure they stay true to themselves, stay real, and not become programmed or stereotypical of pageantry.”
Many contestants qualifying for the Miss Michigan Scholarship pageant earn their way through local pageants and then have obligations for that organization through the year as they prepare for June, according to Skidmore. Miss Spirit of the State winners will represent the program when necessary, but the main goal is to prepare for the Miss Michigan pageant, she said.
“We will share Alisha with the Miss Heartland program until February, when she crowns her successor, and then focus directly on to the Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen program and get Alisha ready to compete at the national level,” said Skidmore.