Trail Ambassador contestants (from the front and clockwise) Miss Kiwanis Morgan Albo

Trail Ambassador contestants (from the front and clockwise) Miss Kiwanis Morgan Albo

Young women grow as they prepare for Miss Trail spotlight

Pageant set for May 6 at Charles Bailey Theatre

A group of young role models are ready to put six months of training on display as they vie to become Miss Trail.

Six Grade 11 peers – Miss Colombo Jourdyne Mason, Miss Kiwanis Morgan Albo, Miss Legion Abby Muskeyn, Miss Trail Rotary Aftin Jolly, Miss Kinsmen Ashley Hansen and Miss Knights of Pythias Megan McIntyre – are ready to step into the spotlight at the pageant on May 6 at the Charles Bailey Theatre.

“The level of confidence is unbelievable,” said program coordinator Michelle Epp. “People are always blown away that a teenage girl gets up on stage in front of 600 people and appears flawless and effortless.”

Epp won Miss Congeniality in 1986, and from 1987 until 1993 was involved in organizing the program. She was the driving force behind bringing the pageant back.

The Trail ambassador program is much more than pretty dresses and batting eyelashes these days.  “This ain’t no beauty pageant” was the slogan the ambassador committee – formerly called the Trail queen’s committee – came up with in 2008 when the competition came back with a strong presence from its last run in 2002.

“It would be an honour, but it’s not so much about becoming Miss Trail, it’s more the experience than the title that interested me in the first place,” said Mason.

“At first I thought it was a beauty pageant but it’s so much more than that,” added Jolly. “It’s about growing up, and making connections with people, learning more about your community and being more confident in yourself.”

Beyond tightening their choreography, resume writing, public speaking and etiquette, this year’s program focussed on promoting Trail and working with children.

Epp’s always impressed by the unique girls that are attracted to the friendly competition, including Hansen, who calls the program “life changing.”

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“Before I took part in Miss Trail, I kept to myself basically,” she said. “But being in Miss Trail now, I have new friends and I even get along better with my family.”

The teen, who enjoys editing photos and listening to music on her spare time, has more than one career goal ahead of her. If hairdressing and acting doesn’t work out, she plans to study astronomy.

As for Mason, she’d like to continue shooting hoops and intends to follow her passion for basketball to the University of Calgary, where she’ll work towards becoming an athletic therapist.

Working at Bogie and Bacall Hair Design in Waneta Plaza has piqued McIntyre’s interest in hairdressing and she now has plans to study at Selkirk College.

McIntyre is following in her mother’s footsteps, recalling that her mom Senta was a “flower girl” before running for Miss Trail in 1989.

“When I first started, I was the quiet one of the group,” she said. “I didn’t like speaking in front of everyone but now I’ve gained a lot more confidence.”

Stage presence was an attribute Muskeyn already had. The artsy contender takes vocal lessons, dances and is involved with drama at school.

“I’m used to being on stage,” she said. “But I’m always playing someone else.”

Beyond other extra-curricular activities, Muskeyn is a member of Crowe House, a group of socially aware students who support local and global projects.

Jolly is also trying to make a difference, acting as vice-president of the Trail Interact Club, the youth branch of Rotary that fundraises for projects like building homes in Mexico.

The girl that used to play dress up and watch pageants like Miss USA and Miss Universe said representing her community has been a “life-long dream.”

She hopes to one day try her hand at wedding planning but she plans to study broadcast journalism at Ryerson University.

After completing a work experience at People’s Pharmacy, Albo is interested in pursuing a career as a pharmacist.

Though her sister Lauren was crowned Miss Trail in 2009, she needed a couple years before realizing the program had a lot to offer beyond a huge commitment.

“At first, I didn’t want to do this program because I saw how time consuming it was,” she said.

But after a couple years of maturity, she noticed the life friendships and connections her sister made during her time as Trail royalty and decided she was destined to take part, too.

“I honestly love Trail. There’s lots of stuff to do here,” she said. “It’s a great city, we don’t have big problems like they have in big cities. It’s such a kind, generous community. It’s just great to be a part of it.”

The girls are off to Chase this weekend to watch a pageant before starring in their very own during Silver City Days.

Titles up for grabs include Miss Princess, Miss Congeniality and the girl taking the top tiara will become Miss Trail.

The girls will receive up to 25 marks after performing a speech, showcasing a talent, presenting an evening gown and answering a question.

Contestants already will have earned up to 75 marks before they take the stage – with up to 25 points given for training, 20 for the same speech they’ll perform again and 30 for an interview done prior to the formal competition.

The show starts at 7 p.m. May 6 at the Charles Bailey Theatre. Tickets are $10 and are available at the Charles Bailey box office in advance and at the door.