NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - North Salems Kayla Milanes, 14, will be going shopping for a dress pretty soon. She has been chosen as a downstate finalist for the National American Miss Junior Teen Pageant, coming up this summer.
The National American Miss Pageant focuses on building confidence and self-esteem. Contestants are judged on poise and personality in a one-on-one interview, speaking effectively in public, bearing and composure in formal wear and community involvement.
This pageant is all about inner beauty, explained Kaylas mother, Nzingha Milanes. Theres no bathing suit requirement and the girls dont get all glammed up. Only a little makeup is allowed.
I have no idea what theyll ask in the interview, said Kayla. They give you a booklet with sample questions so you can prepare. My goal is not to win -- although that would be nice. Mainly I want to gain self-confidence, make some new friends, and have a good experience while Im doing it.
Milanes, an honor roll freshman at North Salem High, has been active in theater and school plays as long as she can remember. I was the understudy for Jenny Lind in Barnum, the high schools latest musical production, and I sing in the chorus at school. I just joined the Westchester Glee Chorus. Its a lot of fun. And Im going to be in the MSG Varsitys Talent Show in March.
I used to dance, tap and jazz, but I gave that up, she said. Now Im starting sports, though. I just finished field hockey and Im going to start lacrosse.
When young Milanes is not singing, acting, competing or studying, she teaches Toddler Sunday School at the Croton Falls Community Church. Its little lessons about the Bible, she explained.
It is the congregation of the Community Church that is sponsoring Milaness entry into the pageant. Please mention it, her mother added, because we are very grateful.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.