Rachel Moore gained scholarship money, new friends and a feeling of pride and accomplishment.
The Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant also gave her something else — a career goal.
Moore, 19, was the 2014 queen and plans to become an occupational therapist who works with children with special needs.
She was inspired after helping with a pageant for special needs kids — one of several community service activities she participated in during her reign.
On June 13, she’ll hand over her crown to a new queen. The 2015 Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant starts at 6 p.m. at Pasco High School.
For Moore, the pageant experience was life-changing. “The community is going to have a great new group of leaders” in the 2015 queen and court, she said.
Moore is set to begin at Columbia Basin College in the fall.
The Miss Juneteenth pageant is open to African American girls from the Tri-City area in grades 10 to 12. This year, nine girls are competing.
They are: Talya Jackson, 18, who just graduated from Delta High School; Abenda Kesewaah, 16, from Pasco High School; Hannah Lee, 16, from Southridge High School; Alexzondria Montgomery, 16, from Pasco High; Tasia Allen, 16, from Kennewick High School; Jaclin Gabraiel, 17, from Kamiakin High School; Kayla Brown, 17, who just graduated from Chiawana High School; Zelann-e McGary, 15, from Pasco High; and Princess Kannah, 15, from Pasco High.
A pre-show interview makes up a large part of the contestants’ scores. The pageant also includes a group dance routine and a talent competition. The contestants also must field a question from the judges in front of the audience.
Elouise Sparks, pageant director, said the idea is to inspire and support the girls in seeking higher education.
The queen and court also give back to the community.
“They educate, do community service work. They volunteer to help wherever people need them,” Sparks said.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. It dates to June 19, 1865, when news of the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas.
Moore said she was shocked when she heard her name announced as queen during last year’s scholarship pageant. The event is enriching for the competitors, and also for younger girls in the audience, she said.
“It’s a great confidence builder,” Moore said. “It shows these girls they can represent us and stand out.”
Sparks hopes many from the community attend, noting money from the ticket sales goes toward the scholarships awarded to the queen and court.
“These girls work really, really hard, and it really makes them feel good when they look out in the audience and see a packed house,” she said. “We really want to get our community out to support this event.”
General admission tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The ticket price is $10 for high school students and $5 for middle and elementary school students. Kids 5 and younger will be admitted free.
A dance and reception follow at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco.
Advance tickets are available at Back Street Hair Design, 8236 W. Gage Blvd., Suite B, Kennewick.