PORT ORCHARD — Eleven contestants will be competing for the right to be Port Orchard royalty this year in the Fathoms O’ Fun pageant.
Five middle-school juniors in grades 6-8 and six high school seniors from ninth grade up to 20 years old are now in the running, with the first judged event coming up soon with the Royalty Tea debut, sponsored by Soroptimist International of Port Orchard.
The tea will be 2 p.m. Jan. 28 at Harper Church.
“When I talk about the contestants being debuted … they’re required to (give a speech) in front of organizations: Soroptimists, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Eagles, to name a few,” said Helene Jensen, Fathoms O’ Fun royalty director.
The three-minute speech will be based on each contestant’s chosen platform, about which they have to write a 500-word essay.
“They go in front of the board, they say their speech, then are judged on that speech,” Jensen said.
“Then, they are asked an impromptu question. The juniors and seniors have about five or six speaking engagements before the pageant begins.”
Once the pageant ends, the winners will be determined through scoring that includes points earned through the events in which they participated.
“It isn’t a pageant that’s (solely) based on how you look on stage, or what your talent is,” Jensen said.
“It’s actually on how you represent yourself, the community and the platform you’re representing.”
Final scores are determined through a private interview held days before the pageant, impromptu questions and talent performances at the pageant, where each contestant will also be modeling their formalwear.
Jensen said the talent performances are about self-expression; past pageants have featured talent displays ranging from a wrestling demonstration to opera singing.
“I think this year we’ll have a comedian, someone demonstrating horse skills, singers and dancers, violin players — that’s what I know about right now,” Jensen said.
The royalty chosen at the end will include three junior winners and two senior winners, as well as a queen or king from selected from the senior contestants.
In order to qualify for the competition, contestants must meet the age requirements, get two teacher recommendations, write a 500-word essay on a platform they’re passionate about, ask for and receive $500 in sponsorship money from the community, be willing to get up and give speeches at their speaking engagements and write another essay in pursuit of a Soroptimist scholarship. The pageant is open to girls and boys.
“If you’re willing to do all of that and learn and put yourself outside the box, then this is a perfect program for you,” Jensen said.
“If you have a fear of speaking in public or talking to adults, this probably also is a perfect program for you. (This program) will help you get past that.”
Jensen said they work closely with the Port Orchard Toastmasters Club to help the contestants with their speeches. Furthermore, renowned local author Debbie Macomber judges and provides feedback on the essays to help strengthen the writing skills of the contestants.
“Programs like this are what helps our youth group,” Jensen said, “and helps our youth go from ordinary to extraordinary.
“(This program gives contestants) confidence to stand up in front of someone, sell themselves when it comes time for interviews, and give them confidence that they can do something that might seem kind of scary.
“If you don’t have a leading edge, how are you going to be recognized? This program helps you to be recognized.”
The Fathoms o’ Fun pageant awards more than $3,000 in scholarships each year, including $500 from Port Orchard’s Soroptimist organization and two $250 scholarships for best essay.
They also have the opportunity to increase their scholarship award, based on the number of volunteer hours they put in.
The theme for this year’s pageant is “The Magic Never Ends,” selected by the current royal court because of their love for Disney princesses, Jensen said.
The service clubs that support the pageant include the Soroptimist International of Port Orchard, Port Orchard Rotary and Rotary of South Kitsap, Kiwanis, Port Orchard Lions, Port Orchard Eagles, Young Professionals Group of Port Orchard, Toastmasters of Port Orchard, Debbie Macomber and Air Masters Heating, Inc.
Junior contestants this year are Ellie Travis, 14; Kate Thomson, 13; Danyelle Wilcox, 13; Zoe Hauenstein, 12; and Savannah Horsley, 12. The senior contestants are Christina Bonham, 16; Paige Hoffsommer, 18; Maria Hoyt, 15; Hannah Haynes, 15; Cory Miller, 16; and Tamara Medal, 19.
A fundraising event for the scholarships will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 at the Dragonfly Cinema in Port Orchard.
Tickets are available at the door. Twenty percent of the proceeds from concessions will be donated to the scholarship fund.
The pageant will start at 4 p.m. on March 3 at Christian Life Center in Port Orchard.
For more information, visit fathomsofun.com.