New titleholders crowned at 8th annual Five Hills Scholarship Pageant
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The 8th annual Five Hills Scholarship Pageant was held Saturday at the Copperas Cove Civic Center, with 62 contestants and a masquerade theme, emceed by Mrs. Texas International 2021 Aquillia Vang.
Each contestant dressed to the nines and walked across the stage, where judges scored based on poise, personality and confidence.
The judges for Saturday’s pageant were Ms. Texas International 2021 Jessica Kramm, Miss Texas International 2021 Xavia Wigfall and Miss Austin Texas USA Jenna Martin. The auditors for the pageant were Mark Cyr and Annette L. Donker.
For the Gilbert sisters of Copperas Cove, 2021 will be another year of making an impact. The two returned for a chance at snagging a new crown and succeeded. De’Ziyah was crowned Junior Miss Five Hills, and Dorianna took home the crown for Pre-Teen Miss Five Hills. This year marked Dorianna’s third time winning a title with the pageant. Her first time with the pageant was as Little Miss Rabbit Fest in 2015 before the pageant rebranded under the Five Hills name. De’Ziyah Gilbert was first crowned Little Miss Five Hills in 2018, and her sister Dorianna was crowned Junior Miss Five Hills.
De’Ziyah said it felt magical to walk across the stage. Dorianna said she felt good about coming back and winning a new title. She said she was surprised when she found out she and her sister both won.
Their father, Derrick Gilbert Sr., said that this was historic.
“I know it’s going to be busy but I’m up for it,” he said. “I’m just proud of them. They’re doing an excellent job.”
Dawn Hale, who was the 2020 Senior Ms. Five Hills, said she wasn’t expecting to be selected for the Ambassador position at all.
During her reign in 2020 and the first part of 2021, Hale worked diligently to make “Peaceful Mats” or fidget mats for nursing home residents who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. The therapeutic mats provide a tool for the residents to use to keep their hands busy and calm their minds. Hale also began a pen pal program with a local nursing home and exchanged correspondence with an estimated 60 residents on a regular basis. She also adopted several residents from the nursing home angel tree during Christmas time and donated winter hats. With the help of her fellow royalty, Hale also created wind chimes using recycled CDs to be placed in residents’ rooms. Hale volunteered nearly 500 hours as Senior Ms. Five Hills. She said she was looking forward to continuing her platform and hoped that she would be able to go into the nursing homes and visit with the residents, as COVID restrictions ease up.
Hale said she really missed having her granddaughter, Kaydence Roberts, at the pageant to see her become the next Ambassador. Roberts was the 2020 Five Hills Ambassador and moved to Hawaii with her parents due to the military but still represented Copperas Cove and continued her service. She volunteered 125 hours this year and contributed almost 2,000 hours total throughout her time as 2016 Junior Miss, 2017 Junior Ambassador, 2019 Pre-Teen Miss and as 2020 Five Hills Ambassador.
Collectively, the royalty and their families volunteered more than 3,000 hours despite the pandemic and getting a late start being crowned in June rather than at the regular March pageant due to COVID-19, according to Volunteer Pageant Director Wendy Sledd.
They have also raised nearly $30,000 through Lemonade Day, service projects, Giving Tuesday and other means for a variety of charities and causes including sensory classroom equipment, the animal shelter, Meals on Wheels and have started Blessings in a Backpack programs at three different CCISD schools this year.
With the festivals and parades that the royalty normally represents the city at being cancelled due to the pandemic, the titleholders were able to focus more heavily on their service projects and other community service projects such as painting over the graffiti in the city in five locations, participating in multiple trash pickups, planting projects, painting picnic tables, and being instrumental in the return of Copperas Cove’s annual Shred Day in partnership with KCCB, Sledd said.
“It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since we reinstituted the local Copperas Cove pageant after an 18-year hiatus,” Sledd said. “While many used the pandemic to not host a local pageant, we continued virtually to select our titleholders and continued our service work in our beloved Copperas Cove, finding that the need was even greater than ever before. It was also exciting to see so many of our past contestants and winners return again this year to compete for the crowns. This is a testament to the positive experience they have had in the Miss Five Hills Scholarship Program.”
Sledd said that despite the number of contestants being lower this year due to the pandemic, the number of businesses offering support was “an all-time high” and allowed the pageant program to introduce our contestants to Copperas Cove businesses they may have never entered.
“This also is a clear indication of the credibility of our program and the desire to see it continue in its current form of donating thousands of hours to the community, providing college scholarships and partnering with local small businesses to help continue their success,” Sledd said. “As our newly crowned 2021 royalty embark on this new journey, they will experience a year of hard work, new experiences, and memory-making to last a lifetime.”
Contestants in the Preteen Miss category and older shared their selected platform of service that they would devote their time and money toward should they win. Contestants also fielded one question each that they drew from a bowl. Questions ranged from lighter fun topics to tougher ones about marijuana legalization, women’s rights to vote and drive in other countries, and more.
More than $100,000 in prizes and scholarships were awarded to the contestants and winners.
Newly crowned royalty each received a custom-made rhinestone crowns for the girls and velvet and gold trimmed crowns, scepters and kings’ robes for the boys sponsored by Bill French Jewelers, custom-made double-satin embroidered Five Hills Scholarship Pageant banner trimmed in rhinestones, and flowers from The Daisy plus a protective crown box and an official photoshoot courtesy of CenTex Photo.
The newly crowned royalty ages eight and under received a $100 educational savings bond courtesy of W. B Development. The Pre-Teen Miss, Young Miss, Teen Miss, Miss and Ambassador titleholders each received a $500 scholarship paid directly to their college/university courtesy of donors such as Crawford Bowers Funeral Home, Extraco Banks, the Moose Riders, and Mary Beth Harrell. The Senior Ms. Five Hills winner will receive her entry fee and coaching for the Ms. Texas Senior America pageant.
The new royalty will attend an orientation breakfast this Saturday, and will then make their first appearances as titleholders throughout the afternoon.