WORLD-HERALD NEWS SERVICE
This will be a year on the move for Sarah Summers of Papillion-La Vista South High School.
The 15-year-old reigning National American Miss National Junior Teen Queen has already been to Las Vegas with the five other national queens from other age categories. She had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Miss America Pageant there on Jan. 30.
Her year of travel kicked off when she won her crown in Anaheim, Calif., the weekend of Thanksgiving.
The high school freshman said that even now she is still in awe of her title but is honored to be the first national queen from Nebraska. Queens are chosen by panels of judges on the basis of their academic status, poise and personality on stage; poise and personality in an interview; communication skills; and community service.
There are four categories in the National American Miss pageant — interview, which accounts for 30 percent of the judging; formal wear, also 30 percent; personal introduction, 30 percent; and community involvement, 10 percent. Summers said she enjoyed all of the competition's categories, but her favorite one was community involvement.
“I get to give back, help out, meet all sorts of new people, and just do what I love,” she said.
The interview portion of the competition used to be her least favorite, but Summers no longer finds any part of the competition to be tough.
“I love it now because it's really just talking to people and being yourself,” she said.
Along with participating in pageants, Summers is a team captain with Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society and is involved in Project Linus, a group that gives gifts of handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.
“My goal is 50 (blankets) this year and I have 11 done so far. I have my family and friends to thank for donating fleece for me to make these wonderful blankets,” she said.
She will also be fundraising for her Relay for Life team this year. She became involved in Relay for Life after she lost a grandmother to breast cancer.
“This brought me close with the American Cancer Society and has inspired me to want to explore becoming a pediatric oncologist because I love children,” she said.
Summers is also involved in her own community organization project, Jeans for Teens, where every fall she helps collect jeans and distribute them to children and teens at a shelter.
“Thanks to my family, friends and schools throughout our area, I was able to donate over 200 pairs of jeans to Heartland Family Services Safe Haven in 2009,” she said. That was double her total from the previous year.
Summers said she hopes to continue the Jeans for Teens project and expand it throughout the metro area.
In her role as pageant winner, Summers will travel nationwide for the pageant program, visiting numerous state pageants. She will also be going to Houston soon for a photo shoot.
“I hope in the next year as I travel to show everyone that Nebraska is more than just corn, beef and football,” she said.
Summers also knows that her experiences in pageants will help her in her future endeavors, such as getting a job with her interview skills. She also has gained confidence in public speaking.
“Pageantry has helped me to set goals, work hard and believe that dreams do come true,” she said.
Summers is the daughter of Mike and Dee Summers of Papillion. She is on the honor roll and participates in show choir, student council and the Sapphires Varsity Dance Team.
If you would like to donate fleece for the Linus Project or new or gently used jeans of any size to Jeans for Teens, contact Dee Summers at 339-7234. You can make donations to American Cancer Society Relay for Life Sarpy County at the cancer society's Web site.