Five Hills Scholarship Program awards titles for 2017
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Although the name of the pageant is new, the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant had all the elements of prior Rabbit Fest Scholarship Pageants—tiaras and medals, trophies and sashes, nerves and smiles, and this year, 130 contestants in their pageant best who hoped to hear their name called as winning a crown and the prizes and responsibilities that go with it.
Starting with the early Saturday afternoon competition for the Baby Miss and Mister categories through the Junior Miss and Mister categories, the pageant concluded with an evening competition that featured the Pre-Teen Miss through Senior Ms. Categories.
In addition to a walk across the stage at Lea Ledger Auditorium to show contestants’ poise, personality and confidence, the evening competition provided a chance for each contestant to share her platform of service, should she be selected as Five Hills royalty.
Among the proposed platforms were teen suicide prevention, helping the homeless to include students and veterans, stiff person syndrome awareness, autism, lupus, fighting cancer, City Park beautification, Communities In Schools and the Boys & Girls Club.
Kathleen Serie, morning reporter for KWTX Channel 10 in Waco, served as the emcee, reading each contestant’s name, asking about platforms of service and then asking questions drawn by each contestant during her time on stage.
For Pre-Teen Miss Emily Kimball, a student at Clements Parsons Elementary, her platform of service is the prevention of inhumane animal treatment. Young Miss Hayleigh Walker, a student at Shoemaker High School, will focus her reign on teen suicide prevention. Teen Miss Kendra Hicks, a student at Liberty University Online Academy, has a platform of providing food and clothing to families in need. Miss Five Hills Melissa Sartwell of Copperas Cove will lead the cause of supporting military families. Ms. Five Hills Heidi Cortez of Lampasas will focus on autism awareness during her year of service. Senior Ms. Hope Ransom of Copperas Cove will have the prevention and awareness of sexual assault as her platform.
During the evening crowning ceremony, each of the 2016 royalty took the stage while a recorded message played along with a slideshow of their reign of service prior to their successors being crowned.
After the 2017 royalty were crowned, one more title was awarded, that of Five Hills Ambassador.
The title is awarded annually to the member of the royalty accumulating not only the most hours, but because of their commitment and professionalism throughout the year.
This year, Ms. Rabbit Fest Trish Stutz was bestowed with the title of Ambassador and was crowned by Edith Natividad, the 2016 Ambassador. Stutz will continue to advance her platform of PTSD awareness. Stutz logged more than 1,000 hours of community service in her year of service.
New for 2017 is the title of Junior Ambassador, awarded to Kaydence Weary, who amassed at total of 556 hours of service and raised more than $9,2137.60 in contributions and supplies for the Copperas Cove Animal Shelter, a cause which she will continue promoting as Junior Ambassador through 2017 and until next year’s pageant in 2018.
Judges for both the afternoon and evening portions of the pageant included Natalie Moody, Miss Teen Texas Galaxy; Stephanie Hopkins, Mrs. Austin America; and Alyssa Rosales, Miss Teen Austin Belleza Latina.
At the conclusion of the event, the newly crowned royalty along with family and friends were treated to a cupcake dessert reception from Bits ‘N Bites Cake Shop.
Along with tiaras for the girls and crowns for the boys, educational savings bonds of $100 went to each of the winners in the 0-12 years categories; with the Young Miss Five Hills receiving a $250 scholarship; Teen Five Hills (ages 16-19) receiving a $500 scholarship; and a $250 scholarship for the Miss Five Hills Queen (ages 20-29 years). The total value of prizes and scholarships awarded to all came to more than $50,000, with all contestants this year receiving a gift bag containing more than $200 worth of prizes to include one month of gymnastics, dance or cheer lessons, one month of martial arts lessons, spa facial for moms, along with gift certificates to local shops, sporting events, zoos, museums and restaurants.
The royalty will make their first appearance on Saturday during the Rabbit Fest parade, which starts at 10 a.m.
A lineup of volunteers led by pageant director Wendy Sledd included the parents of current royalty along with the older members of pageant royalty who helped keep things moving along backstage on Saturday. The Copperas Cove High School JROTC cadets assisted both as escorts and with ticket taking as well as setup, with the Air Force Recruiting Office from Harker Heights also assisting with ticket taking and in the ticket booth.