Crowning Glory

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

That SDSU can host a preliminary pageant for the Miss America scholarship pageant at all should be a testament to the people who make the show tick.

In a time when the ratings for the televised Miss America pageant continue to crumble and the Miss USD pageant had to be cancelled due to a lack of contestants, SDSU continues to put on a show that features some of the campus’s finest young women showing off their talent and poise.

Jessica Peterson, a 21-year-old senior communication studies and theatre major with an emphasis on radio, television and film from Bruce, won Miss SDSU with 19-year-old Huron native and music merchandising major Callee Bauman placing as her runner-up and Miss Congeniality.

Amy Vickroy, a 20-year-old communication studies and theatre major with an emphasis in theatre from Volga, won Miss Brookings with 19-year-old Spanish and music education major Jenna Hardy of Sioux Falls placing as her runner-up.

Though these four took all the titles available Sunday afternoon, a brief overview of the show would indicate that the judges must have had a hard time making a decision. The talent competition alone showcased women who excelled at everything from singing to ballet dancing to marimba playing.

The great production values of the Miss SDSU/Brookings pageant have always been the show’s calling card. State producer Raymond Peterson (who is currently serving as SDSU’s director of theatre) keeps an eye on things and longtime pageant producer Cleo Edeburn works as the pageant’s executive director. This year, Peterson said, many people came together in a group effort to make the show work. Edeburn and Peterson both did much for the pageant, but dedicated students and Brookings residents helped out as well.

Peterson has been involved with the South Dakota pageant at some level for over 30 years. He says these pageants are important because they are traditions, but they also help condition women for the working world by providing skills in interviewing and poise.

“Families say they’re surprised at how much is to be learned,” Peterson said.

Peterson also said that a pageant allows those who like to perform, but do not always have the opportunity to get on stage, to do so because of how limited the time span involved in the pageant is.

Bauman agrees, but feels that the friends made are just as important.

“You get to know (the other girls) quite a bit. You get to be pretty good friends with all of them,” Bauman said.

Bauman’s platform issue (all girls in the pageant are expected to research a particular issue) was value-added agriculture with an emphasis on ethanol production. She says this will help the state.

Hardy is very concerned with cultural diversity for one reason: she sees a lot of ignorance around her that she wants to correct.

“When I first came to live here in the dorms, … I was hearing a lot of negative comments, a lot of prejudiced and racist comments, and I realized that many of the students didn’t know that what they were saying was offensive to other people,” she said.

For Hardy, the pageant is a way to discuss these issues and grow as a person. She will continue to participate in the system.

Vickroy is probably happy just to be standing on stage, much less wearing a crown. Just a few months ago, she was in a terrible car accident that left her unable to walk for several months. Now, however, she is Miss Brookings and she hopes to use that platform to discuss drunk driving.

“If I can make someone realize the dangers of drinking and driving (and say) ‘I remember hearing this girl’s story … and I’ll call somebody for a ride.’ Just one person. That could be one life spared. A whole family’s remorse spared,” she said.

Peterson has gone to the state pageant for the last three years.

Still, she feels just as excited to win at the local level so she can speak about her platform of character development.

“My ultimate goal right now is to get out to Miss South Dakota and do the best I can out there,” she said. “It’s really exciting to get to go out there. It’s an honor.”