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Miss Poulsbo, Miss Kitsap head for higher crown

POULSBO — No offense to Little Norway, but Miss Poulsbo Canon Henness is hoping to soon be trading in her bunad.

Not because she dislikes the title (in fact, she loves it) but because it would mean that she’d achieved one of her lifelong goals — becoming Miss Washington.

“I’ve wanted this since I was 4 years old,” Henness said while taking a break from practice interviews this month. “It’s a huge thing to me and sometimes I stop and think about how my goal is right there in front of me. In just a few weeks, I could achieve one of my life’s goals when I’m 18.”

Henness, of Kingston, and Miss Kitsap Amy Stadshaug, of Bremerton, headed to Tacoma June 28 for a week of Miss Washington Pageant activities. Their experience will culminate July 3 with the actual pageant, where one of 53 women from across the state will be crowned the next Miss Washington.

Stadshaug said that she was looking forward to the Miss Washington experience and the possibility of representing her area at the state level.

“As a little girl, I never thought, ‘I want to be Miss Washington’ or, ‘I want to be Miss America’ but as I got older and learned more about it, I realized it was about more than just walking around in pretty dresses,” Stadshaug commented. “I’m excited more than anything because it’s such a good opportunity. I’ve come a long way since the first time I competed at the local level.”

Just two months after being crowned, the pair have already been hard at work preparing for the next level of competition. The Miss Poulsbo and Miss Kitsap competitions, both run by the Miss Poulsbo Organization, are Miss America affiliated programs, which means that each titleholder runs for Miss Washington. The young woman chosen Miss Washington advances to the Miss America Pageant.

In their free time between working and school — Stadshaug just completed her freshman year at the University of Washington and Henness recently graduated from North Kitsap High School — they have been preparing for interview, evening gown, fitness and talent portions of the competition.

Henness will be singing “Showstopper” from the Broadway musical “Showstopper” for her talent. She said she’d hoped to do a jazzy, upbeat song for Miss Washington and Miss Poulsbo Director Michele Nilsen-Wasson came up with two choices for her — one easy and one hard.

“I said, ‘Give me the hard one. If you’re going to hand me a challenge, I’m going to go for it,” Henness said.

After suffering a fracture in her ankle a few weeks ago, Stadshaug still plans to perform a dance number but said it has been pared down to accommodate her healing process. She will be performing “We’re Dancing” from the movie “Center Stage.” Instead of on pointe, the performance will be ballet but Stadshaug said the song is an energetic one that makes her want to dance and she’s trying to focus on doing the best job she can.

“I’m going to be OK,” Stadshaug said of her injury. “I’ve realized it happened for a reason and I can focus on other parts of the competition.”

Short, judged interviews take place at the Miss Washington pageant, but the bulk of the interview points come from a session that takes place earlier. Both Stadshaug and Henness will be interviewed July 1 on topics ranging from their platforms to current events and even Washington history and trivia.

“We’ve been brushing up on my interviewing skills, working on my platform as much as possible, reading the newspaper, watching the news, getting in touch with the state of the nation and the state of the state,” Stadshaug explained.

The two have also been required to begin work with their chosen platforms prior to next month’s pageant.

Stadshaug, who chose Habitat for Humanity, has been on a job site and met with numerous representatives from Kitsap County Habitat for Humanity. She said her injury slowed her down a little, but she’s excited to get back out and work with the organization.

Henness, who chose Generations United, has been volunteering at Poulsbo’s Martha & Mary Health Care Facility since May. Nursing home residents and kids from the neighboring Martha & Mary child care facility participate in Generations United activities like crafts, holiday parties and sing-a-longs and Henness has been able to witness these interactions. She’s also volunteered for the weekly day of beauty at the nursing home, where residents can get manicures and pedicures.

“People really open up to you, respond to you and listen to you. Doors open up for you,” she said of wearing the Miss Poulsbo crown. “I’ve really learned a lot about what my platform’s all about.”

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