Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Windham resident seeks Maine pageant title by Leah Hoenen

Celine Baker, a Windham Middle School eighth grader, is preparing for her first pageant competition. She will vie for the title Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen in June.

Celine balances a full schedule of theater, singing, dancing, soccer and pageant preparation. She is working hard to prepare and has her eye on a win, but says the experience will yield benefits that go far beyond the pageant itself.

“I have ambitions to be a lawyer and to go to Harvard Law. The experience and knowledge [from the pageant] will help me apply for jobs, build confidence and a better outlook on brightening our future,” said Celine.

Sitting in the kitchen of her family’s Windham home, dressed in a bright pink cardigan and with her hair pulled back on one side, Celine speaks thoughtfully and confidently as she explains her journey toward pageant competition and the rewards she hopes to gain from it.

Celine’s platform is called “Bye Bye Bullying.” “I want to try to start clubs in schools, to have kids make up kid counseling teams. Most people respond more to their peers,” she said. If she wins the state’s outstanding teen title, the pageant program will help her promote her planned program in schools throughout the state, she said.

“I’ve seen a lot of my friends get bullied. I’ve seen it in school. I’ve been bullied. Nobody should experience the pain and suffering I did and many others around the world do,” said Celine.

The Miss Maine’s Outstanding Teen pageant offers scholarship money and requires students to be in good academic standing, said Celine. A win would have Celine compete to be named Miss America’s Outstanding Teen in Florida this coming August and give her the opportunity to push her platform, become a role model and speak out, she said.

Pageant week begins June 18. During the week, contestants train, rehearse and perform community service, said Celine.

She anticipates some nerves as the day of the event approaches, but says she feels confident in her preparation.

Singing will be her talent when she takes the stage. Celine is being coached by Windham High School senior Marybeth Noonan, who won the title two years ago, and by voice coach Janelle Losciuto.

The contest includes optional workshops for contestants, said Celine. “It’s to help build up contestants’ confidence,” she said. She’s already attended one on interviewing.

“I think I did pretty well. There are three judges and someone recording it. They asked questions about me and my platforms,” said Celine. “The feedback was really helpful. They said I needed to work on adding more depth to my answers,” she said.

There are a few more workshops scheduled between now and the pageant, and Celine plans to take advantage of them.

“I’m hoping to win, like every girl is, but I’m not shooting for that 100 percent. I’m looking for a different experience, learning something and meeting new people,” said Celine.

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