By Johnny Jackson
Four local teens will compete, among hundreds of young women from metro Atlanta, for two Miss Teen Atlanta titles.
Ashton Ethridge, of McDonough, Faren Koontz, of Locust Grove, Monique Tippit, of Stockbridge, and Tyrah Carmichael, of Fayetteville, are among the more than 300 area teenagers selected to participate in the 12th Annual Nationals' 2008 Miss Teen Atlanta pageant competition.
"Everybody hopes to win, but not everybody can," said Koontz, 18. I'm going to do the best I can."
Koontz, a 2008 graduate of Faith Academy in Stockbridge, is a freshman at Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga., majoring in Dental Hygene. She said she has never competed in a pageant before. "I like to be a well-rounded person. I've done sports, I've worked since I was thirteen and just wanted to try something new."
This, too, is Ethridge's first pageant. "I'm just along for the ride," said Ethridge, a 2008 graduate of Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in McDonough.
The 18-year-old is a freshman communications major at Georgia Perimeter College in Clarkston, Ga. "I'm excited." she said. "It's a learning experience, and it's something very few people get to do, so I took the opportunity."
Miss Teen Atlanta is a pageant based on various qualities, one of which is personality. Participants are judged on their performances in personal interviews with judges and on their performance in formal and casual wear modeling routines. Personality, according to pageant officials, will be the No.1 aspect that each contestant is judged on during all phases of the competition.
The teens learned of their acceptance into this year's competition as Nationals, Inc., only recently announced their selections. The would-be contestants had to submit their applications and participate in an interview session conducted by this year's Atlanta Pageant coordinator, Patty Neidert.
"I'm excited about doing something different and learning new things," said Tyrah Carmichael, 16, a senior at Clayton County's Lovejoy High School. "I went to a training class two weeks ago, and got to meet so many new people," she said. "We had to learn the proper way to walk and turn. It was fun. If I won, that would just make my year -- to represent Atlanta in a pageant."
Ethridge, Koontz, Tippit and Carmichael will compete on Sunday in the Miss Teen division for a share of thousands of dollars in prizes and specialty gifts that will be distributed to contestants. The Miss Teen division is one of four divisions for girls and young women between the ages of seven and 19.
The competition, taking place today and Sunday, is a preliminary competition with $20,000 in combined prizes. Winners of the competition will get the opportunity to represent metro Atlanta at the Cities of America National Competition in Orlando, Fla., where prizes will total $60,000. Those who win the area competition will head to the Nationals to compete, expenses paid.
The teenagers will compete locally on Sunday, following the pre-teen division competition for contestants 10-12-years-old. Today, girls, ages 7-9, will compete in the junior/pre-teen division, while teens, ages 13-15, compete in the junior/teen division.
Community businesses, organizations, and private individuals are assisting pageant contestants with participation costs, through sponsorships, through which contestants receive training, rehearsals, and financial support. To learn more, contact pageant coordinator Neidert at 1-800-569-2487.
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