Many young girls dream of being a princess one day.
There is just something about the dress, the crown and the feeling of confidence.
For two local girls, a U.S. competition could allow them to achieve a princess status of sorts. Both Kaida Schrag and Jayden Orth of McPherson County are Kansas finalists in the National American Miss pageant and will compete for state titles in two weeks.
Each girl must be nominated to be a candidate at the state level and undergo an interview process. Once selected, those finalists compete at the state level in several categories, including a personal introduction, formal wear, interview and community involvement.
Winners within five age groups will receive a $1,000 cash reward, the official crown, a banner, a bouquet of roses and air transportation to national competition in California in November. This trip includes a Tour of Hollywood and two V.I.P. tickets to Disneyland.
Kaida Schrag, 7, of rural McPherson will compete in the junior pre-teen category with other 7- to 9-year-olds.
Kaida and grandmother Karen Schrag didn’t believe the pageant was a real competition at first. However, once they realized it was legitimate and she had been nominated anonymously, they moved forward.
Since then, they have worked on obtaining sponsors and practicing speeches for the competition. Both have helped Kaida reach her goal for the competition, which is to build self-esteem.
“I think this has helped her a lot,” Karen said. “I hope she can feel confident in whatever she does and have faith in herself that she can do it.”
For the talent competition, Kaida plans to showcase her Taekwondo. She is a first-degree black belt. She will demonstrate responses to “stranger danger,” using her grandfather as an assistant.
She was enrolled in Taekwondo three years ago to help her be less shy. Although Kaida says she is nervous about the pageant, Karen anticipates Kaida will approach the competition much like her Taekwondo matchups.
“When she would compete in regional, national and world championships, she’d be nervous, but the minute she got in that ring, it was all business,” Karen said. “It’s like a light turns on. She’s very competitive.”
Like those matchups, Karen is pleased the pageant will focus on her granddaughter’s skills.
“I was excited (the pageant) is not going to be all glam and glitz,” she said. “I’m glad it’s about her talent and academics. So many (pageants) are glamour and glitz, and you don’t see the real person.
“She’s a talented girl. She’s very smart, and she tries hard. Anything she tries, she puts in 110 percent.”
Page 2 of 2 - Kaida said she is motivated by a trip to Hollywood, where she will be able to see the letters on the big hill.
Jayden Orth, 5, of Galva will compete in the princess category with other 4- to 6-year-olds.
Jayden was nominated after she appeared on a commercial for a Wichita hospital. Since then, she has practiced interviews and walking.
“I would really rather it be fun for her,” mother Jennifer said. “I don’t want to push her.”
Jennifer said she hopes Jayden’s self-confidence increases.
“I would rather her feel comfortable with herself, and I think that’s important for all kids, but especially at this age when they’re starting school,” Jennifer said. “I think it’s important to feel good about themselves.”
Jayden will not be performing a talent, but is most excited about a dance party scheduled around the pageant. She is looking forward to wearing her formal dress that is white and blue with feathers.
“It’s exciting for me,” Jennifer said. “It kind of makes me sad. She’s getting so big. I just love watching her grow.”
Because she is growing up so fast, Jennifer said she is glad the pageant isn’t focused solely on outward appearance, but will show her true spirit.
“I think that she’s a super sweet girl, and that's what I want everyone to see,” she said. “I love that about her. She’s just got a huge heart.”
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel