ORLANDO, Fla. — Greenville resident Alisha Gatchel is among 53 contestants representing the United States, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the Miss America Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando, Fla.
Selected in June as Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen, Gatchel is among young women ages 13-17 representing the sister program of the Miss America Organization, and vying for the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen crown and $25,000 scholarship.
“I am still so honored and in a state of disbelief,” said Gatchel of the whirlwind of the past five weeks.
Gatchel is currently in Florida, preparing for the three preliminary rounds July 29, 30 and 31, and the finals round on August 2.
“I’m keeping the same song (for the talent competition) because it is also about my platform,” said Gatchel, the daughter of Holly Gatchel. “I’ve not made any changes in my wardrobe other than add cocktail dresses and long gowns for events we have throughout the week.”
Gatchel will travel the state — or the nation — throughout her year of service promoting her platform “Support for Pediatric Cancer Patients and Families.”
“My life has changed dramatically,” said Gatchel, who will begin her senior year at Greenville High School this fall. “My schedule has become stacked with appearances across the state and will continue to be throughout my reign. I’ve had to give up several things already, but have no problem doing so, as this is an opportunity so very few young women receive, and so many hope to.”
Rounds of competition are the same as the statewide contests, however, an additional element helps secure a spot for the top 12 semifinalists.
Ten of the top 12 are chosen by the panel of judges but two additional spots are available for at-home viewers to also pick their favorite contestant.
For $1 per vote, viewers may log in to http://fourpointsmagazine.com/maoteen-americas-choice any time between July 27 and 5 p.m. July 31. The two contestants with the most votes will advance to the semifinal round for the final night of competition.
“If I were to win Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, I would spend my year traveling the entire country rather than the entire state,” Gatchel said. “I would be the spokesperson for the teen organization, and I would rarely not be on a plane or in a hotel serving the organization as a host and representative at events.”