A Warsaw Community High School junior received an invitation to attend the National American Miss Pageant in Orlando, Fla.
The invitation came after Ella Collins won the first runner-up in Academic Achievement in the National American Miss State Pageant Sept. 2-5 in Indianapolis. Collins also won the Most Recommendations Award and placed in the top 10 overall of those participating in the state pageant, placing somewhere between six and 10. She won’t know her exact placement for a couple weeks.
For receiving the runner-up for the Academic Achievement Award, Ella said she had WCHS print her transcripts and she provided the pageant with the transcripts. She was surprised at being runner-up for Academic Achievement because, Ella said, in some of the girls’ introductions, other pageant contestants said they had straight A’s. Mother Melissa Collins said the decision is based on courseload.
Ella said there were six different divisions in the state pageant: princess, junior pre-teen, pre-teen, junior teen, teen and miss. Ella was in the junior teen division.
To win the Most Recommendations Award, Ella went around her school to people she knew with forms for girls to fill out so the pageant could send out postcards explaining what the pageant is about in case the girl receiving the information wanted to participate in the pageant the next year.
Melissa said it’s not a typical beauty pageant and focuses on girls working on self-confidence by working on their public speaking skills and community service skills, shaping “well-rounded young women to get them ready to go out in the world.”
Ella said the pageant was separated into different categories, which included interview, evening wear and optionals, which included talent, casual wear, fun fitness and spokesmodel. Each category was judged by a different set of judges. Melissa said the girls were judged by 30% evening wear, 30% personal introduction, 30% interview and 10% community service.
For the community service portion, the contestants had to donate one school item or book to a local school or library to gain the full 10%, Melissa said. Ella donated 100 books to the Warsaw Community Public Library.
Ella doesn’t know yet how many girls will be attending nationals in Orlando, Fla. Melissa said last year, she believes 70 girls attended nationals in Ella’s age division.
The queen package includes a 2,000 cash scholarship, according to the pageant’s website.
Ella has participated in other pageants included Queen of Lakes and 4-H Fair Queen. After being convinced to try pageants, Ella was able to make friends through the pageants and realized some of the stereotypes of the people that participate in pageants isn’t correct, saying a lot of the girls are really nice.
Ella said she thinks pageants help with self-confidence and stage presence because there’s different judges with different personalities and the contestants have to interact with them. The contestant also learns to be more comfortable being themselves in front of other people.
In order to go to the state pageant, Ella had to pay a fee. In order to pay the fee, she was able to get sponsors from Tecomet, The Bowling Alley, Nail Fiend Inc., Warsaw Orthodontics and Edgewood Dental.
To help Ella go to nationals, she is putting on a fundraiser called Halloween Boo-ling Fundraiser and will be 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 30 at The Bowling Alley, 1535 N.?Detroit St., Warsaw.
Half of the proceeds will go to help Ella go to nationals, with the other half to go to set up a scholarship award. The scholarship fund she is creating will be called C.O.L.E. (Children of Law Enforcement). The first scholarship will be the Captain Clay Layne Memorial C.O.L.E. Scholarship.
People can sign up at The Bowling Allen or email firstname.lastname@example.org. People can pay at the door.
Melissa said Ella is finding her platform and that is education. C.O.L.E. is to help children of law enforcement officers, who have been killed in the line of duty or died unexpectedly, pay for their college education. Ella said she was friends with Layne’s daughter. Layne died Oct. 19, 2021, after an unexpected medical emergency, according to his obituary.