Pageant winner prepares for national contest
When Sarah Jump watched the Miss Teenage America pageant on television last year, she didn't know that this year she'd be in it.
"I didn't have a clue," Jump said last week as she was preparing for the pageant.
Jump, a green-eyed blonde who stands all of 5-foot-4, last September captured the title of Miss Teenage Kansas in Wichita.
Since then, the 17-year old Basehor-Linwood High School senior has been on the go, earning good grades in school, participating as a cheerleader, running track and making speaking presentations all while preparing for the national pageant.
That's 17 days worth of pageant, including morning-until-evening rehearsals, nightly pageant dinners, a preliminary competition on Aug. 21, and the top 10 countdown on Aug. 26.
The pageant will be aired on CBS from Shreveport, La., at 8 p.m. Aug. 26.
Here's how it works.
The 51 contestants will compete on Aug. 21 in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview.
Judges will keep score and at the end of the preliminary, the 10 top-scoring girls will be announced.
That's when the waiting begins.
"They won't tell us until the 26th," Jump said. "We have to wait five days to find out who wins."
And then, the top 10 begin the competitions again.
"They erase all the scores you got at the preliminaries," Jump said. "And then you do all three categories swimsuit, evening gown and interviews again."
But this time there's a new set of judges judges who are celebrities.
"From there, they'll pick the top five, based on points, and then the top three," Jump said.
During the final round of competition, the top three will be asked to answer the same question. They will not hear the others' responses.
The judges may not all agree on a winner.
"It's very rare to find a unanimous vote they all have their own idea of who to pick to win," Jump said, explaining that the winner is selected according to the number of points from all the judges.
No matter what happens at nationals, Jump is looking forward to this year's Miss Teenage Kansas pageant Sept. 7-9 in Maize.
It's been a good year, she said, and noted that her favorite part was getting to speak to groups. Particularly meaningful, she said, was the opportunity to speak at a DARE graduation ceremony.
"I've always believed in teaching kids that it's not right to do drugs and alcohol," Jump said. "And, they also should learn that violence is bad. If you're mad about something, don't be violent."
One might wonder if Jump's comments, as she spoke as Miss Teenage Kansas, would have a deeper impact on the sixth-grade DARE graduates than if an adult had lectured them.
Jump paused momentarily, smiled and said quietly, "I hope so."
Jump and her mother, Liz Jump, left Tuesday for Shreve-port. Her mother will stay with her at the hotel during her time there.
Jump's father, Raymond Jump, and both of her sets of grandparents who live in Colorado will fly to Shreveport to attend the pageant.