Local teen pioneers first Miss Port Gamble pageant

PORT GAMBLE — When Jennifer Marquiss received a letter in May announcing that her Kingston Junior High teachers and coaches had nominated her to be a candidate for the 2004 Miss Teen of Washington Pageant, she wasn’t really sure what to think of it.

However, when the 14-year-old read the letter again later that night, she and her mom realized it wasn’t a beauty pageant, but a contest based on academics and community service.

“Not everyone in the school gets one of these letters,” Marquiss said. “All I saw was ‘Miss Teen of Washington’ and all these girls who are on it and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it because I wasn’t like these girls.”

But after finding out the criteria for the contest included academic records, community service and knowledge of current events, Marquiss changed her mind.

“I thought it would be exciting to try and it would be fun,” she said.

The ninth-grader at KJH has been preparing for the pageant the past two months, which is taking place this weekend at Central Washington University.

Since learning more about scholarship pageants this summer, Marquiss has decided to use her new found knowledge and create a Miss Port Gamble Scholarship Pageant. The idea came when she approached The Port Gamble Merchants Association about sponsoring her for this weekend’s event. The group was more than happy to do so, in fact, members even called her “Miss Port Gamble.” From there, Marquiss ran with the concept and started working on developing the local pageant.

“For all the festivals we do, it would be cool to do,” said Port Gamble property manager Shana Smith.

Marquiss has been brainstorming ideas for the program’s structure, including requirements to be a contestant, such as having a certain grade point average. Miss Port Gamble would also need to be well versed in the history of old sawmill town.

“They go and present themselves as Miss Port Gamble and welcome people and tell them information if they want to know (about the town),” Marquiss said.

Duties would also include fund-raising for the pageant’s scholarship fund. Marquiss’ goal is to raise $1,000 or more for the first contest, which is expected to take place next summer or December 2005.

Aside from participating in this weekend’s event in Ellensburg, Marquiss said she hopes to bring back information from the pageant that will she be able to apply to her own program.

“If I go to Miss Teen of Washington, it will at least give me some tips on what they do,” Marquiss said about going this weekend. “Just have fun with it.”

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