Southridge High student on way to state pageant

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMay 23, 2013 

The third time was the charm last year for Southridge High School sophomore Tayler Plunkett.

When the Kennewick student was named Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen in July, she had competed for the title twice before, being named fourth runner-up in 2010 and first runner-up in 2011.

Tayler, 16, left Thursday for Burien to compete against 23 other teens for the title of Miss Washington's Outstanding Teen. The two-day pageant begins Saturday at the Highline Performing Arts Center.

The contestants are a mix of honor students, debate champions, singers, dancers, cheerleaders, athletes, musicians and writers. Besides the state crown, the young women, ages 13-17, also are competing for $100,000 in prizes and scholarships.

Tayler's platform for the contest is "Friends for Life, providing support for children and teens with disabilities."

Tayler said she's more anxious than nervous.

"I won the title Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen in July so I've been waiting a long time for this competition to come. I don't think it's fully hit me that it's actually here now. I'm excited to see what's in store for me," she said.

Tayler has a good feeling about her chances. A few months ago, opening a fortune cookie at Panda Express, she pulled out a slip of paper that reads: "You'll have good luck in all your personal affairs."

"You bet I kept it," she said.

She'll have a good cheering section. Her parents, Roy and Tammy Plunkett of Kennewick, her grandmother, cousin and one of her best friends will be making the trip to the west side with her.

For the talent portion of the pageant Tayler will sing The Prayer, a popular song from the film Quest for Camelot.

"It's traditionally sung opera style by Celine Dion," she said. "I like singing opera, and when I tell people that -- where I'm only 16 -- it definitely makes me stand out."

Tayler hopes to pursue a career in some type of vocal performance art.

She's enjoyed her stint as Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen, calling it "a blessing."

"I've really had the opportunity to see what the Tri-Cities has to offer and the amazing things we do when we come together," she said.

Two other teens from the Mid-Columbia also will be competing in the pageant: Laurie Kautzman, Miss Moses Lake Outstanding Teen, and Gabrielle Ellis, Miss Yakima County's Outstanding Teen.

The final night of the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen pageant will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are available online at http://mwoteen.org/index.html. Cost is $35 per person plus service charges.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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