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Molly Callanan crowned Miss WCU 2014

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The line to get into Miss WCU on Saturday night was out the door at 6:30 p.m., winding around the entire lobby of the Asplundh concert hall and through the tunnel of the castle. As people waited anxiously to get into the building, there was a lot of chatter about the next potential Miss WCU 2014.

The audience kept growing until the concert hall had a full house. When the lights went down at 7:30 p.m., a cheer erupted from the excited crowd as Courtney Daniels took the stage to sing a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

The contestants then took the stage with Miss WCU 2013, Emily Sharp, for the opening production number, a high-energy dance number that allowed the audience to take a look at all of the contestants. The opening number was followed by a video introduction of each contestant. Each of the 19 lovely ladies had an opportunity to introduce herself and her platform from several different well-known locations around campus.

“The support from the other women is astounding,” said contestant Elana Benitez. “Through the whole process, from our first rehearsal the crowning, we always wanted to lift each other up. Miss WCU was an incredible experience and I would do it a million times over again if I could.”

The emcee of the night, Mayor Carolyn Committa, then took the stage. Mayor Committa warmly welcomed the audience and formally introduced Miss WCU 2013, Emily Sharp. The mayor also explained how the judges’ scores were broken down: 40 percent was based on an interview each contestant had with the judges before the show, and the remaining 60 percent was dependent upon their performance onstage.

The next part of the program was a video to introduce the five judges. The head judge was Vincenza Carrieri-Russo, Miss Delaware 2008. The rest of the judging panel was comprised of Jen Nestor, a fitness instructor at the West Chester YMCA; Brenda Goldsmith, a veteran in the events/entertainment industry; Andrea Hoeflich, the Mid-Atlantic Merchandise Coordinator for EILEEN FISHER, Inc.; and Clayton Stacey, a seasoned performer and makeup artist.

Casual Wear followed, which gave contestants the opportunity to model their casual wear outfits while photos of their friends, family, and on-campus involvement were projected on the screen behind them. The casual wear portion was worth 15 percent of the overall total.

Once the 19th contestant left the stage, Emily Sharp graced the stage to serenade the audience with “On My Own” from Les Miserables as the contestants prepared their respective talents.

The talent portion was worth 25 percent of their overall total, and with good reason; the contestants clearly worked very hard at a multitude of different talents, including an acrobatic routine, singing, alternative percussion, dancing, a color guard routine, and one contestant who signed the lyrics in time with a song. The end of the talent portion signified the end of act one.

After a 10-minute intermission, Mayor Committa took the stage to introduce each contestant during the evening gown and onstage question competition. Miss WCU 1999 Michelle Filling-Brown, the first to hold the title, asked each contestant a different question. The questions included “What is the greatest struggle women face today?”, “If you were a Disney character, who would you be?”, and “What prompted you to join the Miss WCU competition?”

As the judges deliberated, the Garnet Valley High School dance team performed an upbeat number to “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody,” and former Miss WCU titleholders who were in the audience had an opportunity to take the stage, including the titleholders from 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Emily Sharp joined the mayor onstage during her farewell presentation, a video that gave her the opportunity to tell the audience everything she accomplished as Miss WCU 2013 and to thank her friends, family, and the other people who supported her. Mayor Committa also used that time to honor Sharp for all of the service she has done for the West Chester community by giving her a key to the city.

“Having had the most memorable year of my life, it was truly magical to be a part of such a life changing moment for another young woman,” Sharp said.

WCU’s dance team, who recently placed fifth at dance team nationals, performed their award-winning number for the audience as the judges made their decisions.

It was time to narrow the field from 19 to the top five. The top five contestants, announced in no particular order, were Jenna Romansky, Molly Callanan, Tiffany Hundley, Olivia Miller, and Deanna Holzer. Each of the top five contestants answered one final question, including “What are your plans after graduation?” and “What would you say to an incoming freshman or transfer student?”

Michael Hartman, founder of Miss WCU back in 1999, took the stage to give two awards: Miss WCU Fan of the Year to videographer and graphic artist Nick Lavelle, and Miss WCU Sponsor of the Year to Mayor Carolyn Committa, who even got her own Miss WCU crown. Mayor Committa then reciprocated and gave Hartman his very own key to the city for everything he has done the West Chester community over the last 16 years.

Emily Sharp graced the stage one last time for the closing production number. Sharp sang “For Good,” accompanied on piano and vocally by her brother Anthony, as the contestants rejoined her onstage.

The awards portion of the program had finally arrived. The awards list is as follows: Congeniality Award: Jenna Romansky; Fan Club Award: Molly Callanan; People’s Choice Award: Courtney Benner; Photogenic Award: Elana Benitez; Leadership Award: Lydia White; Academic Award: Jenny Korb; WCU First Year Student Award: Deanna Holzer; Spirit Award: Heidi Brooks; Platform Development Award: Ashley McCorkle; Non-Finalist Casual Wear Award: Jenny Korb; Community Service Award: Samantha Gogets; Poise and Presence Award: Molly Callanan; Non-Finalist Talent Award: Margo Loggia; and Non-Finalist Interview Award: Courtney Benner.

All of the contestants received a prize package simply for participating, so everyone went home with something. The runners up were announced next. The fourth runner up was Jenna Romansky; third runner up was Olivia Miller; second runner up was Tiffany Hundley; and first runner up was Deanna Holzer. That left Molly Callanan to be crowned Miss West Chester University 2014 by Emily Sharp.

“Passing the crown was by far my favorite moment as Miss WCU,” Sharp said. “Molly is an amazing woman; she is radiant, beautiful, brilliant, passionate, inspirational, and so incredibly kind-hearted. Welcoming her to the sisterhood was a dream come true for me as well as I’m sure it was for her.”

“It was seriously a dream come true,” Callanan agreed. “This is something I have been working towards for a few years now, and it was such an honor to be given this opportunity.”

Clare Haggerty is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The Student News Service of West Chester University
Molly Callanan crowned Miss WCU 2014