ORLANDO, Fla. — Alicia Gatchel had the opportunity of a lifetime when she spent one week in Orlando, Florida, representing her home state at the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant.
As the Miss Michigan Outstanding Teen, a title earned in June, Gatchel, of Greenville, competed against 52 other young women from around the country, plus Washington DC, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
“I am truly overjoyed and so humbled to have made top ten amongst our nation’s finest young women,” said Gatchel, 16, the daughter of Holly Gatchel, “The caliber of women all representing our nation’s states has me thinking our nation is in such good hands in the future. To be called top ten is a dream.”
Competition for the women ran from July 29 to Aug 3. The 53 state titleholders were divided into three groups: Red, White and Blue. Gatchel was among the red group which had interviews on Monday, evening wear and on-stage question on Tuesday, sportswear on Wednesday, and talent on Thursday. The Top Ten, and two People’s Choice winners were announced on Saturday, the final round of competition.
“This was the first time (since the pageant started in 2006) the pageant was live streamed, so, being in the top ten, I performed to the world, and that is such a priceless experience,” said Gatchel, who earned a $1,500 scholarship for being a semi-finalist.
One of Gatchel’s strongest aspects of competition is talent, where she performed a vocal/piano original composition “Stronger Than This.”
As contestant No. 5, Gatchel also participated in events outside of competition, including carrying the state flag into the arena during a medieval times dinner show, and visiting the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital.
“I love our state and the people in it,” said Gatchel, who will soon start her senior year of high school. “To be the representative of the state of Michigan at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen was such an honor. Throughout the week, my actual name was rarely used. I was always called and referred to as ‘Michigan.’ I grew to love that!”
Miss Georgia, Olivia McMillan, went on to win the title of Miss America Outstanding Teen.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.