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While home schoolers might be stereotyped as wanting to avoid the spotlight, a 16-year old from Colorado is proving that poise in public is just another trait that can be developed at home.
Rachel Higgins, of Westminster, near Denver, won the Colorado Junior Miss Pageant in February, and will compete in the National Junior Miss Pageant June 28 in Mobile, Ala. Rachel is the daughter of Alan and Connie Higgins. She has two sisters, Joanna, 19, and Jenny, 13.
The Junior Miss Pageant awards college scholarships, and Rachel has already won $2,000 toward higher education via the state pageant. She intends to enroll at a small college in Amarillo, TX to study voice under noted opera singer Mary Jane Johnson.
Rachel's mother, Connie, said the national organization was very enthusiastic about a home schooler entering the competition.
"I never, ever thought we would do a pageant, but we had so much encouragement," Connie said. "The organization is very open-minded when it comes to home school students, especially at the national level. They are trying to stress what their ideal of a young woman is going into the next century. They emphasize good morals, and a good background. It's very positive."
Connie explained that the contest judging is based in percentages on interviews, a talent exhibition (she sang from a Victor Herbert operetta), physical fitness, scholarship and poise (as demonstrated in an evening gown display). Contestants also answer a question in front of the audience at the pageant. Rachel impressed judges with her answer about how to move forward after 9/11.
Regarding home schooling, Connie said Rachel was well prepared for judges' questions during the interview, in that she had time to study a wide range of subjects in depth.
Rachel is very positive about the experience she has had and anticipates.
"It's a wonderful opportunity," Rachel said. "I'm excited to meet 49 other girls from all over the country I really enjoy all the things we do to prepare for the contest, the exercise, keeping up on current events, all of it."
The pageant will be televised live at 9 p.m., June 28, on PAX TV.
More information on the Junior Miss Pageant is available at www.ajm.org
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