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A package deal

 

Photos courtesy
of Miss Teen America Pageant, Heather Konitshek and Nicole Borelli

 

Some teen pageants are beauty contests. They're for girls who are adorable in face and body, who move gracefully and wear their clothes with style.

Nicole Borelli

Some teen pageants are character contests. They're looking for winners who are well-educated and talented, who love their country and work hard to improve their community.

Two kinds of pageants, two different worlds . . .

But wait. The Miss Teen America Pageant is about beauty AND character. Contestants must qualify in essay, volunteer community service, interview, speech, talent, modeling, evening wear, photogenic AND swimsuit. This pageant picks a babe with a brain, a doll with a diploma.

Actually, there are two dolls, and they're both still working on their diplomas. Heather Konitshek, a 16-year-old from Connecticut, is Miss Teen America. Nicole Borelli, a 13-year-old from Massachusetts, is Miss Junior Teen America. Both were the youngest winners ever from their age divisions.

Heather Konitshek
The crowning moment Heather Konitshek
Miss Konitshek is a singer with a Broadway flair and a long pageant-winning past, but her real interests lie in communications and education. She's an aspiring writer who works on her yearbook staff, and she wants to be working as an elementary school teacher 10 years from now.

She spends part of each summer in Appalachia, helping local people build their homes as part of the Joshua House Fund, a Catholic charitable agency. She enjoys wearing a swimsuit (but not during those New England winters), and she wouldn't turn down a chance at stardom if it showed up at her door. Remember, Heather, it only knocks once! 

Heather Konitshek
Heather Konitshek Miss Borelli has been studying ballet for more than half her life. Amazingly for a girl her age, she is also an accomplished ballroom dancer, just now beginning to enter competitions. She often travels long distances to perform in hospitals and nursing homes ("I like to take over a stage"), but she also enjoys staying home and tutoring a mentally challenged friend in dance routines.

 

She has an adult's talent, but at heart she's still very much a girl. She still misses the flying squirrel she released into the wild, and she once dyed the family cat pink for Valentine's Day.

Two American girls. But when we look at the Miss Teen America Pageant in 2000, we will see only one standing in their place. Because teenagers are growing up so fast these days (as every parent cant testify), the two titles will be merged for the next cycle. A single Miss Teen America will be picked from among girls 13-19.

Nicole Borelli

But meanwhile, America, we've got two. A couple of cute, smart New Englanders with big hearts and dazzling futures. Let's count our blessings.

  
Miss Teen America archive
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