07/10/09 — Looking for Goldsboro's first-ever Junior Miss

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Looking for Goldsboro's first-ever Junior Miss

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 10, 2009 1:46 PM

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Casey Chudy, center, a military wife who now lives in Goldsboro, is pictured with other contestants in the Junior Miss pageant in Barren County, Ky., where she was named winner in 1999. For her talent, she performed a lyrical jazz dance. She hopes to introduce the program to Wayne County.

Wayne County could benefit from a Junior Miss program, says a transplanted military wife and previous title winner.

Casey Chudy was Junior Miss for Barren County, Ky., in 1999. The program meant so much to her that she worked to keep it going in her hometown, and later to launch one while her husband, Kendall, was stationed in Mississippi.

"I did some research on where we were moving and found out they didn't have a Junior Miss program," she said. She wound up leading the Lowndes County program for five years.

"I still help with it," she admitted, having only lived in this area since March.

And now she hopes to bring it to Wayne County.

The Wayne County Junior Miss program is open to high school senior girls who will graduate in the spring of 2010 and legally reside in the county. There is no entry fee.

A national scholarship and tuition program, Junior Miss differs from other pageants in that it also has academic and fitness components.

There are actually five areas of competition, Mrs. Chudy said.

Self-expression centers around poise and composure, and having to answer a question on stage, accounting for 15 percent of the score. The fitness routine, done as a group, is worth 15 percent. A 10-minute interview, done with the judges beforehand, is worth 25 percent. The 90-second talent performance is worth 25 percent, and scholastic -- a form completed by their school counselor detailing courses and grades -- counts as 20 percent.

There is something about Junior Miss that goes way beyond the typical notion of a beauty pageant, she said. In fact, participants don't even wear a bathing suit, opting instead for a shorts outfit for the fitness portion. And if she had her way, the girls wouldn't have to go out and buy a fancy evening gown, either.

"We wore church clothes," she said. "If I got permission, they'd be wearing church dresses because there's no need to spend money to get money (for scholarships)."

Her own reasons for entering nearly 10 years ago were very simple.

"It was just something you did. Your friends before you did it, and you have known since you were little you were going to do it," she said.

So when she found herself moving to areas without the program -- even though neighboring Lenoir County has one -- she just couldn't help herself.

"Lowndes County was a lot like this county -- lots of talented girls, good schools. It's just a shame that they're missing out," she said. "There's lots of scholarship money to be had."

To her knowledge there hasn't been a Junior Miss program here in a long time, if ever. The county hasn't even participated by sending local girls to the at-large program, which means contestants can take part in another area's competition.

Mrs. Chudy is determined that someone will represent Wayne County next year, even if it's by sending someone to compete in another county.

She will host an informational meeting on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Comfort Suites for interested participants. It is not a mandatory meeting, she noted, nor is it the final deadline to take part.

"It's just for girls to come and find out more about the program," Mrs. Chudy said. Also expected to attend will be the 2009 Kinston Junior Miss and chairperson of that program.

And then the fun begins -- rehearsals, fitness routines, mock interviews. But Mrs. Chudy said she is willing to work with the girls at every level, providing coaching and encouragement and even choreography for the final event.

"I'll be preparing them for the competition Sept. 26 at the Paramount," she said.

Deadline for entries is July 29. Orientation will be held Aug. 1, followed by a workshop on Aug. 15 and rehearsals starting Aug. 29.

Mrs. Chudy said she has enlisted some help, but could always use volunteers.

"I'd like to have a good panel of 10 women," she said. "We'll need help with fundraising, helping with the girls, community support for the scholarships. It's doubly hard the first year because I have to raise operational money."

But in the long run, it'll all pay off, regardless of the pageant's outcome. The life lessons that come from such a program -- public speaking, confidence, recognition for academic excellence -- will help the girls for years to come, she says.

"I think Junior Miss is one of the few things left that really identifies these girls for the things they need to be identified for," she said. "I just think we're in such a world of the media that oftentimes the important parts aren't what's recognized."

For more information, contact Mrs. Chudy at 288-2828 or waynejuniormiss@hotmail.com.