Community

Miss West Sound has her eyes on the prize

POULSBO — Tonie Duchemin of Poulsbo is preparing herself for “pageant boot camp.” Armed with her tiara, layered white evening gown, swimsuit and talent — a jazz dance number to “Play that Funky Music” by Wild Cherry — Duchemin is preparing for the Miss Washington pageant July 9 and 10 in Renton. Miss Washington will represent the state at the 2011 Miss America pageant.

“I wake up with butterflies every morning,” Duchemin said. “My evening gown is hanging in my room and it’s just a constant reminder of the upcoming pageant.”

Duchemin was named Miss West Sound in February.

This is the first year for the Miss West Sound pageant, which was formed to offer local young women a springboard to the Miss America pageant after Miss Kitsap/Miss Poulsbo pageants cut ties with the Miss America pageant last year.

Last year Duchemin competed for Miss Washington as Miss Northwest and was a preliminary winner in talent. The last Kitsap County contestant to win Miss Washington was Kristen Eddings of Silverdale in 2006.

Pageant boot camp is the week of the Miss Washington pageant, from July 4 to 11. Last year the experience left her physically and emotionally drained, Duchemin said.

“You want your best to shine through,” she said. “So that’s really the challenge, is making sure that your excitement level is there.”

Duchemin first competed for Miss Viking Fest at age 15. In college, she realized pageants allowed her to volunteer while earning college scholarships.

“It keeps me on my toes and it keeps me working hard,” Duchemin said.

She has continued to promote herself, Kitsap County and her platform — Children’s Miracle Network — since winning Miss West Sound. She has raised more than $9,000 in scholarship money in the last two years.

“I am going to college because of Miss West Sound,” Duchemin said.

Currently a student at Seattle Central Community College, Duchemin hopes to transfer to the University of Washington, Tacoma, and complete a degree in philanthropy or business and continue working with non-profits.

At 23, this is Duchemin’s last shot at winning in the Miss Washington Pageant as the age cut-off is 24.

“I’m officially an old-timer this year,” Duchemin said. “I don’t feel old yet.”

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