Gavilan Hills pageant crowns two queens

Leslie Akers was crowned Miss Gavilan Hills by Jill Simonian, a

– Even on a rainy Saturday night the 15 contestants in the Miss
Gavilan Hills Pageant brightened the Strand Theater, in Gilroy,
with their talent, intelligence and beauty.
GILROY – Even on a rainy Saturday night the 15 contestants in the Miss Gavilan Hills Pageant brightened the Strand Theater, in Gilroy, with their talent, intelligence and beauty.

Leslie Akers, 23, from Merced received the crown for Miss Gavilan Hills 2003, while Kristina Harris, 23, from Santa Cruz took the title for Miss Northern California.

“I am so excited to be crowned Miss Gavilan Hills because this is the last local pageant that I can compete in,” Akers said.

The two girls will compete in June at the Miss California pageant held in Fresno. Each Miss California contestant receives a $1,000 scholarship, for participating, with the hope of winning up to $10,000.

At this year’s pageant the committee decided to do something a little different by having a buffet dinner for families and friends before the competition.

“I really think the Strand Theater is a nice location for the pageant, and I liked the food,” said Don Cowan, from Morgan Hill, whose daughter Laurren Cowan was the only contestant in the pageant from Gavilan college.

Before the pageant or the dinner began the contestants arrived at the theater early in the morning to take part in the interview portion of the competition. Forty percent of their score comes from the interview and is added to the night’s points.

“I have judged over 400 local pageants, and I feel that the quality is going to be very high this year, the girls are very intelligent,” Bill Bertram said before the pageant began. Bertram is Director of Field Operations for the Miss California Organization and a judge at this year’s pageant.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, post 6309, opened the pageant. Joining them was Leizl Tan a new Marine and last year’s Miss Northern California.

“I have chosen to join the Marines, but I want to be 60 and look back to say ‘hey I tried this.’ I mean every little girl at one time or another sits and watches the Miss America pageant and wishes she could do that one day,” said Tan.

The contestants then began by displaying their unique talents. Some chose to sing selections from musicals and operas, while others performed tap, ballet and Scottish and Middle Eastern dances. Some recited monologues and poetry.

“When we are judging the girls, we look for who they really are, and we judge them on the best they can be,” said Jeanne Menendez, a judge and a member of the Miss Los Angeles County Scholarship Organization.

The Miss Gavilan Hills pageant is labeled as an ‘open’ pageant. Any female who is a resident of California, between the ages of 17 to 24, never been married and is either working full-time or a student is eligible to compete. Two crowns are awarded at this pageant, because the contestants come from all over the state and must fill the final two contestant slots in the Miss California pageant.

The rest of the night consisted of a swimsuit competition, evening gown section and question-and-answer period, where the girls spoke about their platform and philanthropic work.

Harris, the new Miss Northern California, addressed the early detection of scoliosis, while Akers focused on mentoring programs for the youth.

“We have a wonderful group of young ladies this year. They are all so sharp and educated,” said Joyce Patereau, from Gilroy, and executive director of the pageant committee.

$1,100 is split between the two winners. The money is a combination of donations and the $25 ticket price for attending the night’s event.