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There she is, Miss Hall County ...
Community theater fundraiser crowns a queen
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Miss Hall County/Miss Flowery Branch pageants

When: 7 p.m. Friday, middle school pageant; 9 a.m. Saturday, Teeny Miss and Tiny Miss pageants; 10:30 a.m. Petite Miss and Little Miss pageants; noon, junior preteen pageants; 2 p.m. high school pageants; 7 p.m. Miss Hall County scholarship pageant

Where: Friendship Elementary School, 4450 Friendship Road, Buford

How much: $6 admission for each pageant segment

Ladies, polish those pearly whites - it's time for the first-ever Miss Hall County/Miss Flowery Branch scholarship pageants.

But this event, a fundraiser for the community theater group Fifth Row Center, goes much further than simply displaying pretty young women in sparkly dresses. Rather, the competition is also a lesson in poise and stewardship, and the winner will be representing the area in many volunteer activities throughout the year.

Instead of a being a traditional pageant, with categories like swimwear, talent and evening-dress competition, this pageant focuses on a young woman's ability to speak confidently, be at ease with herself and model an official T-shirt in her own unique way.

Plus, winners in the 12th-grade and college-age categories will receive scholarships.

"The mentorship part of it comes in after the pageant, because what we're going to do then is look for opportunities for these girls to serve the community," said Donna Chalmers, who started the theater group earlier this year.

And it's not just the girl with the crown who gets to take part in the volunteer work, which will be certified under the President's Volunteer Program - a program that allows anyone to sign up, log their hours and later be recognized for their work. "We're opening it up to, if you're in the pageant and you want to volunteer, you get to do that," Chalmers added.

"Because volunteering really is a life-changing experience," she said. "It gets the girls out of their own little world. We want them to see themselves as valuable in the community in terms of helping others; no matter how old or how young I am, I can make a difference in someone's life."

The competition is split over two evenings to give all 54 girls and young women entered - ages 2 to 22 - a chance to shine without overwhelming the judges. Contestants will be judged on poise, their answers to questions from the judges and how they present themselves both dressed up and dressed in a "casual" outfit - but Chalmers said rather than buy their own casual wear, contestants will wear an official pageant T-shirt and customize the look with their personal style of pants and accessories.

"Depending on the age group, they're going to be judged on their poise, really, how comfortable they are walking in front of the audience, representing themselves," Chalmers said. "If they have that spark of personality - if they look like they're having fun, that's what we're looking for.

"We're looking for girls who are comfortable being the age that they are."

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