South Whidbey teen wins Washington's Junior Miss

"South Whidbey has a new star: Marilee Jolin of Clinton, a South Whidbey High School senior, returned from Pullman last Saturday as Washington state's new Junior Miss for 2000.The state award garnered Jolin a $3,000 college scholarship and will send her to the national Junior Miss program in Mobile, Ala., this June, which will be televised on TNT. She will also spend the next year representing her state at various public functions and working with the local Junior Miss programs statewide. It's one of the things I'm looking forward to most, Jolin said. Representing this great group of girls in the program, and working with others, being in a position of mentorship.It doesn't appear that her tasks will be difficult. In addition to the first place honor, she won awards in Presence and Composure and the Judges' Interview. And her fellow Junior Miss contestants voted her the recipient of the Overall Spirit Award, exemplifying the spirit of Junior Miss.That was almost more special to me, Jolin said. Those girls were so fantastic, the award was wonderful coming from them. Jolin was in the company of young women who had earned their places in the state program through sometimes rigorous preparation with their local clubs.They were very accomplished. I watched some of them kicking up to the ceiling in their practice for the talent portion of the program and was amazed, she said. Because there is no local program in South Whidbey, Jolin went to Pullman as a participant in the at-large program, where she had received the Award of Excellence, a combination of the spirit award voted on by the participants and the top score by the panel of judges.Her week in Pullman, she said, was a round of working out continually and eating more than I ever had in my life.The contestants learned and rehearsed a 15-minute aerobic routine which they performed during one of the preliminary rounds, and which burned a lot of energy.There was food all over the place, she said. Bowls of candy in the dressing rooms, snack tables for break with crackers, veggies, muffins.The camaraderie among the girls made it feel more like camp, Jolin said. As the preliminaries and finals drew closer, she did worry about a possible change in feeling: We were there to win awards, and some people weren't going to get them, she said. But it still never felt like a competition.Jolin's father Neil noted that one emphasis of the Junior Miss program is on spirit. Enjoy it and enjoy each other, he said.Marilee added, They stress two things: education and being your best self. It's not trying to change anyone, or make them be a certain way. It's about what you want for yourself, and being the best you can be. Girls leave the program knowing a lot more about themselves than when they started.The girls are judged in five categories of competition: fitness, creative and performing arts, judges' interview, scholastic achievement and presence and composure.That was my favorite, Jolin said. (She won that award). The contestants, wearing evening gowns, walked on stage and were given a word -- like integrity, honesty, loyalty -- and asked to apply it to Junior Miss.Jolin's word was potential. I answered that it's what I see in my generation that my peers don't see -- the potential that's not often realized. Junior Miss is a positive opportunity to grow and realize your potential. In the Judges' Interview portion of the program, which took place offstage (and which she also won), she was asked questions based on her own experiences.They personalized the questions, she said. The judges asked us about ourselves, to ascertain our values, whether we were going somewhere in life.Jolin's week in Pullman was spent between the rehearsal space and her host family, a mother and two boys, ages 18 and 13.It was a little strange. Here was this attractive young man and I was supposed to think of him as a brother, Jolin said with a laugh. But it took little time for her to settle in, and soon, she said, He did feel like a brother. The whole family really reached out and accepted me.Her host brothers brought her a dozen pink roses for the dressing room, and on the night she won the state Junior Miss title, they used Christmas bulbs to create a lighted runway for her at their home.Jolin's parents came on Thursday after a week of no contact with their daughter. The program discourages contact with home, probably to make sure parents don't put any pressure on the girls, Jolin said. It was harder than I thought, she said.When her parents did arrive, her mother told her, I feel like you could win this. Her father watched Marilee win the Sprit Award and the Judges' Interview, and thought, Oh, no she's going to win this thing, he said. It was a commitment not only for their daughter, but for them as well.The family will be involved in many of Jolin's activities, including, of course, her trip to Mobile for the nationals on June 24-26: The Junior Miss program encourages parental and family participation. The father of Julianna Rigg, 1999 Washington Junior Miss, congratulated Neil Jolin and said, It's good to pass on the responsibility. Your main job will be to go get things.As for Marilee Jolin, her attitude is perhaps best indicated by the song from The Sound of Music which she sang in her talent performance: I have confidence.America's Junior MissA nationwide scholarship program at the local, state and national levels for high school junior and senior girls, America's Junior Miss seeks to recognize, reward and encourage excellence among young people by focusing attention on the achievements of outstanding college bound young women and by presenting scholarships to the top honorees.A sponsorship fee of $250 is required from each participant to help fund the program, usually supplied by the local program. Because Marilee Jolin was an at-large contestant, her fee was donated by South Whidbey Kiwanis and Diana Campbell of Coldwell Banker. There will also be expenses in connection with her trip to Mobile in June. Anyone wishing to may make a donation at any InterWest Bank to the account set up for Marilee Jolin/Junior Miss.Jolin is eager to work toward a Junior Miss program on South Whidbey which would lend both encouragement and financial support to girls who wish to take part. Getting the girls excited is an easy job, she said. Now to find the adult support, a place to hold it and local scholarship support. "

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