By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
There was a significant number of Sultan residents watching YouTube recently as they viewed one of their own, 13-year-old Claire Sorgen, compete in the International Junior Miss Pageant.
Sorgen, who is the reigning International Junior Miss Pre-Teen Washington, traveled with her mom, Gini Sorgen, to the international pageant held in Virginia Beach, Va. from July 22-27.
Sorgen competed against 30 girls from all over the world, finishing as a top 10 semi-finalist in her division. She also won several awards in other competitions within the pageant.
“It was an amazing week,” said Gini.
The pageant was available for viewing via a live webcast on IJM’s YouTube channel.
“There were a ton of families online,” said Sultan resident Elizabeth Emmons.
People were rooting for Sorgen on their individual Facebook pages, too.
“Everybody was adding in their comments and cheering… It was really cool,” said Emmons.
For Claire Sorgen, who has been participating in pageants for about two years, coming in as a top 10 semi-finalist was a significant achievement.
“It’s rare that, in your first national pageant, you get top 10,” said Sorgen.
Sorgen’s first competition was the Miss Gold Dust Days pageant in 2011. She didn’t win, but she enjoyed participating so much that it inspired her to broaden her horizons and seek out other competitions.
“There’s a whole pageant world,” explained Sorgen, who has lived in Sultan since she was 7.
She continued competing, and in February of this year was crowned Queen at IJM’s Miss Pre-Teen Washington competition, which enabled her to participate in the international competition in Virginia Beach.
To assist the winners of the state contests, a portion of their monetary winnings are applied toward the international pageant’s entry fees. There are six titles available to win, both at the regional level and at the international competition. Each title is defined by a specific age group.
The pageant’s mandatory competitions include one-on-one interviews with all five judges, the formal wear competition, a fun fashion competition and a 30-second personal introduction speech. How well the girls do in all of the mandatory competitions as a whole is what helps the judges choose the winning queens in each age division.
One of the first mandatory competitions held in Virginia Beach was the 30-second introduction speech.
Sorgen performed her lively and articulate speech at the Sultan Visitor’s Center last week for a few select viewers. The speech highlighted her dreams of attending the University of Washington and eventually becoming a fashion designer, plus it focused on her current hobbies, which include playing volleyball, basketball, the piano and clarinet.
“One day you’ll see my name, Claire Sorgen, on designer labels across America,” said Sorgen. “With a passion for fashion and a clothing line in my future, this 13-year-old aspires to fulfill my dream of becoming a famous designer.”
In addition to the mandatory competitions, there are several optional competitions available. Some of these include spokesmodel, talent, casual wear, best photo and a commercial competition. Awards are also given for academic achievement, participation spirit, appearances and volunteer service.
There is no swimsuit competition at International Junior Miss. The pageant’s focus is on positive self-esteem, and as such, encourages young woman to have a healthy lifestyle and to work towards setting and achieving their goals. The program awards cash scholarships for the winners in each division.
In addition to being a top 10 semi-finalist, Sorgen won fourth runner-up in the talent competition, and first runner up in spokesmodel. She won the appearance award for her many public appearances since winning the crown in February, the academic award, a participation award and the spirit award for her participation in so many different aspects of the competition.
In order to participate in the academic award competition, Sorgen had to submit her transcripts, which reflect her 4.0 grade point average, and obtain letters of recommendation from her teachers along with other school officials.
For the talent competition, which was a first for Sorgen, she performed a classic piano piece called Arabesque.
There are many different things Sorgen enjoys about competing in pageants, including the increase in self-confidence.
“My parents really like the public speaking skills I get, and I really like that too,” said Sorgen.
And of course, the fancy dresses are another positive aspect.
“I really like being in the evening gown competition,” said Sorgen. “That’s probably my favorite part because I love dressing in really pretty dresses. I love picking out the dresses, I love being up on stage… everything.”
In addition to participating in pageants which contribute to her own personal enrichment, Sorgen has participated in benefit pageants, including a pageant to help spread breast cancer awareness, and also one which raised money for victims of domestic violence.
Sorgen will continue to make appearances throughout the year and in February of 2014, she will be given the opportunity to pass on her crown to the next IJM Miss Washington Pre-Teen Queen. She is still deciding whether or not to compete in the IJM’s international pageant again next summer.
Sorgen will be going into eighth grade this fall at Sultan Middle School.