LEWISTOWN - While there usually is at least one local contestant who participates in the Miss Central Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen Pageant, this year Lewistown has two residents competing for one of three titles to be given.
Abigail Traxler, 12, and Bryn Ferguson, 15, both attend Mifflin County Junior High School and will be compete side by side with 10 other girls for one of three titles - Miss Central Pennsylvania's Outstanding Teen, Miss Greater Juniata Valley's Outstanding Teen, and Miss Freedom Forge's Outstanding Teen - during the 2014 Miss Central Pennsylvania Scholarship Pageant scheduled for Feb. 8 at MCJHS.
Traxler is a seventh grader at MCJHS, the daughter of John and Karla Traxler, and she does pageants because she wants to do them. Karla Traxler competed in the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant as Miss Tri-County in 1987, but said she has always let her daughter make her own decisions about involvement in pageants. Traxler said this will be her seventh pageant, and she likes to do a fair amount of research before entering one.
The local 2014 Miss Central Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen contestants are, from left, Bryn Ferguson and Abigail Traxler.
"I like to look for pageants that will benefit me in the future," Traxler said. "Pageants that offer scholarship money are the best, because I want to go to college someday and this is a great way to save money."
She also said meeting all of the girls and showing who she is on stage, both to others and to the judges, is one of her favorite parts of pageants. Traxler said the talent portion of the pageant is very special.
"Not all pageants have a talent portion of judging, and at this pageant if you get a talent award, you can get a scholarship," Traxler explained.
Traxler will sing the song "For Good," from the musical "Wicked,'' but believes she gets more nervous during the on-stage interview because the questions vary. She said she is looking forward to presenting her platform, "Project ABBY: Anti-Bullying for Better Youth." Traxler said when she thought about participating in state pageants, anti-bullying was a topic she knew she wanted to do.
"Most bullying happens during youth," Traxler said. "If you enforce anti-bullying at a young age, then they are more likely to carry it with them through adulthood."
Traxler said her goal at this pageant is to qualify for the statewide pageant, but she would like only to place in the top 10 there, because contestants can participate in the national pageant only once.
Ferguson is in ninth grade at MCJHS, the daughter of Terrance and Tammy Ferguson. This will be her third pageant, having previously competed when she was a little girl.
"I was watching the Miss America Pageant on television and I thought about getting back into the pageant world," Ferguson said. "I finally begged my parents enough for them to let me compete again."
Ferguson also said her favorite part of the pageant is the talent portion, because she loves to dance and takes classes three nights a week. Ferguson will perform a jazz routine at the pageant, but said her favorite dance style is contemporary because it combines both jazz and ballet.
"I choose to do jazz because it is a more upbeat style than some of the others, and I think the judges will like that," she explained.
Ferguson has an ultimate goal of getting her platform out into the world. She loves flying and has based her pageant around that interest. Her platform, entitled "Cleared for Takeoff: The Sky is the Limit of Women Aviators," centers around the difficulties that female aviators face.
Traxler and Ferguson will compete in different phases throughout the day, including a private interview, talent and modeling. Each of these phases will count for about one-third of the total score and the judges can award a score as high as 10 in each category. At the end of the pageant, each contestant's highest and lowest scores are dropped, and the top five scorers will be ranked by the judges. Of those, the top three girls will travel to Pittsburgh to compete in the state pageant later this year.
The two Lewistown residents will be joined by: Hannah Piston, Kayla Root, Juliana Wardle, Brenna Sheaffer, Joanna "JoJo" Malone, Jacqulyn Marie Miles, Tory Deluhery, Victoria Vespucio, Jordan Fritsch and Tristin Kresak.
The pageant is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Feb. 8 inside the MCJHS auditorium. Tickets will be sold at the door; the cost is: adults, $20; senior citizens, $15; students with school ID, $15; children age 7 to 12, $10, and children under six are free.