Imagine being crowned queen of the Pumpkin Fair? Or reign supreme over the Manteca Twilight Holiday Parade? Or have the chance to interact with the mayor, police chief and other business and community leaders?
Local youth volunteers with Manteca Youth Focus have been doing just that for the past two decades. These students are between the ages of 10-20 and come from numerous different public, private and home schools throughout Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp and Weston Ranch. They have taken advantage of the opportunity to earn valuable educational scholarships while gaining leadership skills and volunteer service hours as a part of the Manteca Youth Focus All-Star Team.
While other beauty pageants, offer prizes for runners-up, modeling and photogenic qualities, MYF is a scholarship competition for boys and girls which has no phase of competition related to modeling or physical beauty. Instead contestants in the MYF competitions are judged in 6 well-rounded phases of competition including Community Service Resume, Scholastic Achievement, Personality Interview, Community Advocacy Speech, Stage Arts and Impromptu Question. Boys earn medals and “ambassador” titles while girls earn crowns, sashes and “miss” titles.
The City Ambassadors in each age level have served as outstanding young men of achievement and include Manteca City Ambassador, Colton Harris, a graduate of Sierra High School now attending University of California Riverside, Teen Manteca City Ambassador, Nate Padilla, a freshman at Manteca High School, and Young Manteca City Ambassador, Tyler Plath, a former Manteca resident and student at Great Valley Academy who recently relocated to Oregon with his family.
MYF is also unique in that it offers titles to the runners-up in the program so that more students can benefit from the valuable leadership opportunities offered by serving at signature events. The first runners-up in each of the 3 age divisions serve as the “Pumpkin Fair” titleholders and represent the Manteca Pumpkin Fair. Their scholarship is partially sponsored by the Manteca-Sunrise Kiwanis Club. The current reigning Pumpkin Fair titles will be on hand this weekend to crown their successors and include Miss Pumpkin Fair – Liana Bassett, a Sierra High School graduate attending Modesto Junior College and Miss Young Pumpkin Fair – Arianna Kurys, a student at Brock Elliott Elementary School. Pumpkin Fair Ambassador – Jose Fausto and Miss Teen Pumpkin Fair – Katherine Ray are unable to attend this year’s festivities. Fausto, a graduate of East Union High School, is away attending Willamette University in Portland, Oregon. Ray, a sophomore at Sierra High School, is touring and performing in Hawaii with the SHS Band.
The 2nd alternates in each age division are named as the “Winter Fest” titleholders and currently include Miss Winter Fest – Chabryel Snaer-Fay, a senior at Sierra High Schoool, Miss Teen Winter Fest – Cynthia Frausto, a junior at Sierra High School, and Miss Young Winter Fest – Nora Herzog, a student at George McParland Elementary School. These three young ladies have spent the past year representing the Manteca Twilight Holiday Parade sponsored by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce. Their hard work this year also helped build a new partnership for MYF which will serve as co-host of the annual City of Manteca Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Competition Directors Shim Lacy-Watson, Judi Horton and Amanda Rosas commended the 2014 MYF All-Star Team on their service to the community. “These young people have given literally hundreds of hours of their time this past year attending community events all over Northern and Central California. The MYF Board is honored to include them as members of our History of Excellence,” remarked Horton.
Each of the All-Star Team members were given the opportunity to plan and carry out a “community advocacy project” to address a need in the community. Project topics varied widely based upon the passion and interests of the team and included:
• Manteca City Ambassador Harris promoted the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
• Teen Ambassador Padilla took on the issue of childhood obesity.
• Young Ambassador Plath completed his project before moving out of state by organizing his 2nd annual campaign to promote childhood literacy.
• Miss Pumpkin Fair Bassett continued her 3-year fundraising project on behalf of the Cleft Palate Foundation.
• Pumpkin Fair Ambassador Fausto promoted the Second Harvest Food Bank.
• Miss Teen Pumpkin Fair Ray continued her 3 year project in support of the Children’s Research Hospital of Oakland.
• Miss Young Pumpkin Fair Kurys promoted animal adoption with the City of Manteca Animal Services Division.
• Miss Winter Fest Snaer-Fay promoted awareness regarding abuse and assault and the “Lisa Project” display.
• Miss Teen Winter Fest Frausto also promoted the “Lisa Project” as well as brought awareness to her peers about the horrors of human trafficking.
• Miss Young Winter Fest Herzog promoted the St. Mary’s Interfaith Dining Hall.
Tickets to the competition are j$5 and available at the door. The 16-20 age division will compete on Friday, March 13, at 6 p.m. and the 10-12 and 13-15 age divisions will compete in one show on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. Both competitions take place at Calvary Community Church. For more information on MYF competitions and programs, please contact Director Shim Lacy-Watson at 209.518.3915 or visit them on the web at www.MantecaYouthFocus.org.