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COOS BAY — Six young women will compete for the 2019 title of Miss Coos County on Saturday, Feb. 23.

In addition, six younger women will compete for the title of 2019 Miss Coos County Outstanding Teen and a little girl will be chosen at random to be 2019 Miss Coos County Outstanding Princess.

The pageant will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on the Southwestern Oregon Community College campus. Tickets are $18 each and available through brownpapertickets.com and must be printed out. Tickets should also be available at the door, but the event has sold out the past two years so pre-sales are encouraged.

The Miss Coos County program, for young women ages 18-25, gives young women confidence, poise and leadership skills that help them excel in their future endeavors, according to organizers.

Ambitious contestants are seeking higher education and see the program as a way to earn much-needed scholarships. Last year, $41,000 was awarded in scholarships, including tuition waivers to Southwestern as well as other colleges and universities, plus cash awards.

The Miss Coos County Outstanding Teen program, for young women ages 13-17, promotes academic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement.

The Miss Coos County Outstanding Princess program is for girls ages 6-10 and gives them the opportunity to be mentored by a "big sister" and learn that "little girls with dreams become women with vision." The princesses perform a dance at the competition and escort the older girls onto the stage.

The program has been in existence since 1981.

Outgoing Miss Coos County Rylee Young and outgoing Miss Pacific Shores Kaila Tripp will crown one winner this year. Miss Coos County Outstanding Teen Alyssia Hutchings, Miss Coos County Outstanding Princess Syren Simington and Miss Pacific Shores Outstanding Princess Tha'laya Edwards will crown their successors. 

Amee Springsteen is this year's executive director. Vicki Ericson, who served as executive director for 31 years, stepped down from the position in September. 

"I am no stranger to the program, in fact I am a product of it," Springsteen said. "I was Miss Coos County in 2009, and since I aged out in 2012 I have been on the board in some capacity."

This year, the Miss America Organization saw an overhaul, with new leadership. With that came a change in the competition. "Miss" contestants will no longer compete in the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear. Instead, contestants will give a statement in regard to their Social Impact Initiative, previously known as their Platform. 

"This was done in an effort to make the organization more relatable to all young women," Springsteen said. 

The theme this year is "Through the Looking Glass."

The young women have been busy fundraising and volunteering for their Social Impact Initiative. A Mad Hatter Princess Party and Bunco for a Cause were held Feb. 2 at the North Bend Community Center, with all proceeds supporting scholarships for the program.

Contestants are scored from an interview with a panel of judges, their talent and poise on stage, as well as their answers to impromptu questions. The two winners will advance to the Miss Oregon and Miss Oregon Outstanding Teen scholarship pageants, held June 26-29 at the Seaside Civic & Convention Center.

"For me this has been an incredibly surreal year, coming full circle really," Springsteen said. "I think it’s given me the ability to relate to the contestants in a different way than most directors. It probably makes me push them harder too. This program is a lot of work. It’s hectic juggling this, school, extra curricular activities and more, but I have been in their shoes. I know it can be done.

"Our entire board of directors has pushed these girls to leave this program better than they entered, and I think those efforts on our part and the contestants will really show that on Feb. 23."

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