Pageant raises funds for Katrina Relief Urban Plunge

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Pageant raises funds for Katrina Relief Urban Plunge

Mariah Howland

Ms. and Mr. Johnson: Elisabeth Beatty-Owens and Todd Loskutoff

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Laughs were a top priority at the Mr. and Ms. Johnson State Pageant held Jan. 31 and hosted by the JSC Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. The honor of Mr. Johnson was awarded to Todd Loskutoff and Elisabeth Beatty-Owens became Ms. Johnson State of 2012. Though billed as a fun time, the pageant raised money for a serious cause. The Katrina Relief Urban Plunge trip will be traveling to New Orleans during Spring Break to help with Hurricane Katrina relief.

The New England branch of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is sponsoring the KRUP bus trip to help rebuild New Orleans, working with projects like Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together or St. Bernard’s Project. Each day, teams will be rebuilding homes in the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans.

Of the 55 students going, 11 attend JSC. The other colleges included in the trip are, Lyndon State College, Castleton State College, Bates College, University of Southern Maine and University of Maine, Farmington.

The trip is about helping those in need more than any affiliation, and is open to any JSC student. “Not everyone going on the trip is involved in Intervarsity,” said trip co-leader Khrystyne Bartoswicz. “You don’t have to be a Christian to go on the trip. It is an opportunity to do the service during your break.”

The pageant was very successful, according to Bartoswicz, raising $405, twice the amount expected. A full-capacity crowd viewed the pageant at the Stearns Stage Space. “I had it set up for max seating and there were still people sitting on the floor,” she said.

The pageant has been in the planning stages since November, with the hope of helping to defray some of the $575 per person cost. “We [Briana Ste Marie and Kelsey Magee] were trying to figure out a really great event that would both raise money for our New Orleans trip, but also get the JSC community involved and laughing,” said Kaylie Hale, one of the coordinators of the pageant.

According to winner Loskutoff, having fun was an important part of what attracted him to the pageant. “The most enjoyable aspect of the pageant for me was that I could share my creativity with my friends in the audience as well as anyone else that came to the pageant,” he said. “I love venues that allow me to be creative, and while the pageant’s agenda was relatively straightforward I elected to be as much out of the box as I could.” Loskutoff became involved when one of his fellow resident assistants and one of the pageant’s planners, Ste Marie, assured him that the event was built around fun.

Loskutoff believes in finding ways to relax and have fun, freeing oneself from the stress of school, work or relationships. “Exploit your inner youth as much as possible. If that means building cardboard sandcastles, throwing on a mullet wig, singing in falsetto, or stripping in front of a panel of judges, then don’t fight it and don’t pay attention to onlookers who envy your lack of inhibition.”

Master of ceremonies Shani Stoddard began the pageant by introducing each of the 15 contestants as they wore casual wear, chosen to best describe who they are. A beachwear theme followed, with contestants showing up in everything from footie pajamas to bikinis. “For the beachwear, I think only one person wore a bathing suit, one person was a Tetris piece the whole time, someone wore a scuba suit, and someone else wore a nightgown,” said trip co-leader and contestant Tina Gorden.

The talent portion of the show contained such talent as an armpit farter, a salsa dancer, lip-syncing and hoola-hooping. After returning to the stage clothed in evening wear, the six finalists were then asked the final question, after which the judges, Jim Mount from Public Safety, Director of Experiential Education Ellen Hill, SGA President James Dempsey, and Margo Warden, Director of First-Year Experience, tallied the votes to crown the winner.

Hill stated the evening showcased some of JSC’s best talent and she was honored to be asked to judge. “I felt like I was Paula Abdul on American Idol for a night,” she said. “What a privilege to judge with Margo, James and Jim. It was fun to get dressed up in glitter too.”

The pageant is the first event fundraiser for the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship group to raise money for the KRUP trip. The annual trip began last year to help in the recovery process from Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans six years ago. According to Hale, 81percent of the city was underwater, causing 1,800 deaths in the region, and left behind $75 billion in destruction.

Last year members of the group participating in the Katrina Relief trip labored at a worksite applying primer to a house and also went to visit a local after school program. This part of the trip was the best for Gorden. “The highlight for me was I got to tutor children [in the] afternoon,” she said. “It was a good experience. …I like kids. I enjoyed helping them with their homework.”

The Intervarsity Christian Fellowship holds a weekly meeting open to anyone on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. in the student conference room. “You don’t have to be a Christian to come,” said Gorden. Some in the group also attend the Church of the Nazarene in Johnson on Sundays. Rides are available. They meet at 9:45 a.m. at the Martinetti parking lot.

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