Standing, from left, are Samantha Hess, Samantha Smith, Andrea Wade, Erica Greenwood, TyLynn McCraner, Lexy Rank, Michala Froehlich and Brandee Smith. Kneeling are Chelsea Grahl, Sarah Hassle, Hope Daniel, Courtney Brisbois, Jacoya Brookins, Lauren Krueger, Charity Evans, Caitlyn Shurte, Kandice Payne and Kathryn Hale.

Archived Story

18 vie for Miss Dowagiac

Published 9:46pm Monday, February 6, 2012

Seventeen Union High School seniors, including seven already attending Southwestern Michigan College, and one home-schooled student compete for the 73rd Miss Dowagiac crown at 7 p.m. Saturday at the middle school Performing Arts Center. Theme is “Fun in the Sun.”
Tickets cost $15. Those not sold Sunday may be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce office in the depot through Thursday.

Sarah Elizabeth Hassle
Contestant 1

Height: 5-foot-6 Eyes: blue
Parents: Martha and Joe Hassle
Siblings: Rebecca, Amanda, Joseph
School activities: Rotary Interact Club, National Honor Society, Student Senate president
Outside school: Country Trailblazers 4-H
Interests, hobbies: reading, skiing, hiking, swimming, snorkeling
Awards, honors: cross country leadership award
Ambition: teaching high school English
Greatest accomplishment: skiing down a black diamond at Park City, Utah, without falling
In three words: imaginative, loyal, friendly
Competing why?: “Because the pageant would give me a chance to get to know my fellow seniors on a deeper level that can’t be attained at school. Also, this competition will give me the opportunity to create good memories with my friends before we head into our future outside of high school.”
Platform: The Magic of Reading

Jacoya Brookins
Contestant 2

Height: 5-foot-5 Eyes: brown
Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Roger (Laveda) Brookins
Siblings: three brothers, four sisters
School activities: sophomore Homecoming princess, basketball 2009, volleyball 2009, varsity track 2009-11, state 4×100 relay team 2009-11, tutors students at Dowagiac Middle School, helps with basketball concession stand, classes at Van Buren Technology Center 2010-11, three-week phlebotomy clinical at Lakeland hospital over summer, Michigan State Osteopathic pre-college summer camp and Van Buren Technology Health Fair, where she did blood draws.
Interests, hobbies: volunteering at West Wood of Niles, The Timbers of Cass County in Dowagiac, Cass County Council on Aging and an East Lansing nursing home. She likes working with kids and has worked at E. Root Fitch Camp since 2008.
Awards, honors: Received a scholarship to attend Michigan State Osteopathic Medical Camp last summer.
Greatest accomplishment: “When our 4×100 relay team made it to state the past three years and I have been a part of us making it that far. When I got the scholarship for Michigan State. Both these accomplishments came with dedication and much hard work.”
Ambition: to attend Western Michigan University for an occupational therapy degree
In three words: energetic, focused, dependable
Competing why? “I have been a resident of this wonderful community all of my 18 years and I would love the honor to represent my community with pride and dignity. I would like to reach out to others and show them what a great community I am a part of and what a great role model I can be for others.”
Platform: Passion

Kandice Payne
Contestant 3

Height: 4-foot-11 Eyes: hazel
Parents: Cynthia and Earl Wilds
Siblings: Brian Wilds, Aaron Payne, Michael Payne, Joshua Payne, Brandy Wilds
School activities: band
Outside school: 4-H, works for LADD
Interests, hobbies: helping children with special needs
Awards and honors: DUHS high honors, band awards
Ambition: two-year community college, transferring to an undecided university. “My dream is to get my master’s in social work.”
Greatest accomplishment: “getting the credits to graduate early and finding a job to get a car.”
In three words: persistent, confident, compassionate
Competing why? “I think it is going to be a good opportunity before I graduate. I have never done any out-of-school activities, and I think this will give me a chance to meet and get to know more people.”
Platform: Assisting Special Needs Children

Michala Daniele Froehlich
Contestant 4

Height: 5-foot-9 Eyes: blue/green
Parents: William and Michele Froehlich
Siblings: brother Brody, 15; and sister, Taylore, 12
School activities: basketball (two years), cross country (two years), track (two years)
Outside school: Encore Dance Company member for 10 years, cashier at Hale’s Hardware and a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church
Interests, hobbies: traveling, camping, shopping, spending time with family and friends, working out
Awards, honors: maintaining honors/high honors throughout school career, listed in Who’s Who Among Outstanding Middle School Students, awarded a 10-year Encore dance award and numerous sports varsity letters
Ambition: “I plan to continue going to Southwestern Michigan College, then transfer to Grand Valley State University to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.”
Greatest accomplishment: “Completing my CNA class through the SMC academy programs and putting my hard practice into work experience at a nearby nursing home.”
In three words: ambitious, kind-hearted, positive
Competing why?: “To spend time with fellow classmates and to challenge myself to overcome my fear of public speaking.”
Platform: The “Ideal” Role Model

Andrea Wade
Contestant 5

Height: 5-foot-7 Eyes: hazel
Parents: Scott and Kerri Wade
Sibling: Tyler Wade, 16
School activities: Student Senate member all four years, varsity track team last three years, co-manager of girls varsity basketball team senior year, co-manager of boys varsity soccer team junior year, co-captain of girls junior varsity soccer team freshman year and dual-enrolled at SMC for nine credit hours senior year
Outside school: AYSO U-6 soccer coach
Interests, hobbies: “During the summer I love to jump in my mud truck and hit the mud pits.” Also enjoys reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends
Ambition: attend Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City to major in criminal justice. Hopes to become a juvenile probation officer.
Greatest accomplishment: “I was extremely proud to be a member of the 4×1 relay team that represented Dowagiac at the Michigan High School Athletic Association state track finals in 2011.”
In three words: direct, confident, quick-witted
Competing why?: “For the experiences it will give me with all of the other participants. I also decided to participate so I can finally have the chance to be a huge role model to all of the little girls in the community.”
Platform: How Extracurricular Activity Impacts Teenage Choices

Hope Daniel
Contestant 6

Height: 5-foot-6 Eyes: green
Parents: Dr. Mark and Janet Daniel
Sisters: Estelle, Claire and Sierra Daniel
School activities: varsity tennis, varsity volleyball, Rotary Interact Club, National Honor Society, Student Senate, middle school tutor, Student Council
Outside school: church volunteer, YoungLife, USTA tennis
Interests, hobbies: reading, traveling, hiking, biking, skiing, sports, playing piano
Awards, honors: Academic Award of Excellence, Certificate of Achievement, Rotary Youth Leadership Award, Scholar Athlete Award, Distinguished Scholar, Certificate of Completion-MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine Summer Program
Ambition: study pre-medicine majoring in chemistry and attending an undecided school while working as a phlebotomist. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, attending medical school to become a medical doctor specializing in oncology.
Greatest accomplishment: “Attending three different high schools and being able to adapt and make great friends, as well as maintaining top-ranking grades while completing 36 credit hours at Southwestern Michigan College with straight A’s.”
In three words: compassionate, driven, responsible
Competing why?: “I believe it is a great opportunity to be involved in a community event while sharpening my public speaking skills.”
Platform: Embracing Change

Courtney Brisbois
Contestant 7

Height: 5-foot-3 Eyes: green
Parents: Janelle Schonekas, Keith Brisbois
Siblings: Candis, 23; Teddy, 13; Mattie, 12; Eleanor, 10; Michaela, 10.
School activities: varsity cheerleading, competitive cheerleading, band, color guard, wind ensemble
Outside school: church, coach of U-12 AYSO team, waitress at Pizza Hut
Interests, hobbies: cheerleading, listening to music, playing music, watching movies, coaching soccer, being with family
Awards, honors: first chair clarinet, color guard captain, lifelong honor student, Chieftain of the Month
Ambition: attend a university for a medical degree specializing in nursing
Greatest accomplishment: surviving Hurricane Katrina
In three words: outgoing, confident, assertive
Competing why? “When I was little, I saw Miss Dowagiac. Ever since, I’ve wanted to be that girl that all of the younger generations look up to. I want to be that role model that sets good examples for them to follow my footsteps. It will give me the opportunity to empower myself, as well as others. Also, the opportunity at the scholarship is a bonus. It’s important so that I can make sure I go to college and follow my dream of becoming a nurse.
Platform: Gay Rights

Lauren Amanda
Contestant 8

Height: 5-foot-2 Eyes: brown
Parents: David and Debra Krueger
Sisters: Kristin and Jessica Krueger
School activities: Interact Club, varsity soccer and golf, Student Senate, National Honor Society, color guard and band for two years
Outside school: playing soccer, employee at Dowagiac Elks Lodge
Interests, hobbies: water sports, spending time with family, snow sports, learning
Awards, honors: RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), three Academic Awards of Excellence, President’s Honors at Southwestern Michigan College, all-district in soccer, placed twice at Science Olympiad, Interact Club charter president, Student Senate secretary, selected to go to the Women in Engineering Camp at Michigan Technological University
Ambition: attend Michigan Tech to earn bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and to specialize in construction and structure
Greatest accomplishment: “That I gave every current and future student in Dowagiac Union High School a chance to make a difference in the world by starting our international Interact Club.”
In three words: self-motivating, extroverted, ambitious
Competing why?: “I want to spend time engaging with the fellow girls of my class before we all go our separate ways after high school. Also, to better myself as an individual, gain experiences that will last a lifetime and, of course, to have fun.”
Platform: Making a Difference

Brandee Smith
Contestant 9

Height: 5-foot-4 Eyes: blue
Parents: Jerry and Stevi Smith
Sister: Holly Smith
Outside school: drag racing on Sundays and working at Taco Bell
Interests, hobbies: old muscle cars, drag racing, spending time with family and friends
Awards, honors: Science Olympiad
Ambition: “I plan to go to college and get a business and automotive degree. After that, I want to move to Prescott Valley, Ariz., and start up my own automotive shop.”
Greatest accomplishment: “Helping my dad build our 1972 Nova and knowing I made my parents proud of me.”
In three words: talkative, outgoing, opinionated
Competing why?: “It’s a new experience and I am stepping out of my comfort zone. It will be a great opportunity to meet and get to know different people. I believe it will help me become a better person for the future.”
Platform: Muscle Cars and Me

Samantha Hess
Contestant 10

Height: 5-foot-3 1/2 Eyes: hazel
Parents: Shawnalae Churchill, Brian Hess
Brothers: older, Andrew Hess; younger, Charles Hess
School activities: varsity cheerleading, Chamber Choir, Drama Club, National Honor Society, Interact Club, Fine Arts Booster Club, Humanities Club
Outside school: dance, voice lessons, kitchen aide at Fitch Camp, busing for Timberline Inn
Interests, hobbies: theater, singing, dancing, making candles, skiing, traveling, silly jokes
Awards, honors: varsity letter in cheerleading, Academic Award of Excellence, high honor roll through high school
Ambition: plans to attend Columbia College Chicago or Western Michigan University to major in musical theater performance and minor in secondary education
Greatest accomplishment: “Finally becoming secure in myself and my beliefs, which helped me have confidence in everything I do.”
In three words: caring, determined, enthusiastic
Competing why?: “I’ve always heard about it being a wonderful experience, and because I think it’s a great opportunity to represent Dowagiac in a very meaningful and exciting way.”
Platform: Having the Right Attitude

Lexy Louise Rank
Contestant 11

Height: 5-foot-5 Eyes: hazel
Parents: Nicole Hess, Kevin Rank
Sisters: Cali Rank, Rozlyn Rank
School activities: one year of cross country, two years of basketball, helping out with Celebration Graduation
Outside school: Advocates for All and youth group
Interests, hobbies: running, going to church, visiting and helping her grandpa
Ambition: attend SMC, then transfer to Davenport University for bachelor’s degree in nursing
Greatest accomplishment: going to church, attending college while still in high school and not giving in to peer pressure throughout school
In three words: friendly, determined, honest
Competing why?: “I believe it will be a fun and unforgettable experience and I would love to represent the community of Dowagiac. I also wanted to do it because I have two family members who won Miss Dowagiac, Robin Rank (1984) and Claire Gawthrop (1940).
Platform: Respect

Samantha Leigh Smith
Contestant 12

Height: 5-foot-8 Eyes: blue
Parents, Robert and Tearsa Smith
Sisters: Tiara Smith, 11; and Alanna Smith, 9
School activities: Home Grown Hearts — St. Joseph County home school group in Granger, Ind.
Outside school: member of the Apostolic Lighthouse Church youth group, drama team and nursing home ministry team
Interests, hobbies: writing music, poetry and short stories, cake decorating, playing guitar, singing, refashioning old outfits into new ones, reading and making recycle art
Awards, honors: 2002 Cass County Fair first place youth class showmanship ribbon (for cats), 2002 Cass County Fair beginning showmanship grand champion reserved (for cats), 1999/2000 achievement award North Red Hill 4-H second place, 2000/2001 achievement award North Red Hill 4-H first place, 2001/2002 achievement award North Red Hill 4-H first place, 2003/2004 achievement award North Red Hill 4-H fourth place. Completed Wilton Method Course 1: Decorating Basics at Hobby Lobby in Mishawaka, 2009.
Ambition: to attend SMC for an associate degree in liberal arts, then choose a culinary college, become a pastry chef and open her own bakery/cafe.
Greatest accomplishment: learning to play guitar with minimal instruction and writing her own songs
In three words: witty, fun, creative
Competing why?: “For the experience. I felt the process would help improve some skills I will need in the future, like interviewing. I also thought it would be a great way to make new friends while creating memories with current friends.”
Platform: Writing is Art

TyLynn McCraner
Contestant 13

Height: 5-foot-7 Eyes: hazel
Parents: Michelle Cloud, stepfather Michael Cloud
Siblings: two half-brothers, Michael Cloud and Joshua Cloud
School activities: Art Club
Outside school: Apostolic Lighthouse sign team, family reach out days
Interests, hobbies: sign language, helping children
Honors: honor roll ninth grade year
Ambition: attend Bethel College for a degree in sign language interrupting and American sign language
Greatest accomplishment: making up a whole school year to graduate on time
In three words: outgoing, loud, compassionate
Competing why?: “My great-grandmother and my mother both competed. And I wanted the great friendships and experiences.”
Platform: Family

Chelsea Grahl
Contestant 14

Height: 5-foot-2 Eyes: blue
Parents: Tammy and Roger Grahl
Sister: Ashley Grahl
School activities: football, basketball and competitive cheerleading
Outside school: photo shoot director for Hayley J. Moore Photography
Interests, hobbies: writing, fashion, reading, modeling, acting, cheerleading
Awards, honors: Junior varsity MVP cheerleading award
Ambition: attending college to major in broadcast journalism and minor in fashion merchandising
Greatest accomplishment: admittance into Columbia College Chicago
In three words: confident, unique and ambitious
Competing why?: “One reason I am competing is because my grandfather wanted one of his granddaughters to compete in the pageant. Unfortunately, he passed before he could see one of us. I am doing this pageant in honor of him. Another reason I am participating is for the friendships I’ll make and the memories that’ll last forever. All the past contestants always inform me how fun the pageant is and how close they got to all the girls they competed with. I am also participating in the pageant for the scholarship aspect. In this economy it is hard for young people to find the money to go to college, and I think it’s really great Miss Dowagiac gives us the opportunity to compete for scholarships so we can afford to attend college.”
Platform: Beautiful You

Charity Evans
Contestant 15

Height: 5 feet Eyes: blue
Parents: Richard Evans, Cristy Evans
Sibling: Cassidy Evans
School activities: four years of football and basketball cheerleading, three years of competitive cheer, four years of Chorale choir, two years of Women’s Chorale and Chamber Choir, two years of supporting cast member in high school musicals, one year in Humanities Club and also in The Network Christian Bible study.
Outside school: Miss Kathy’s School of Dance for 12 years, a member of the Apostolic Lighthouse church and youth group, including singing on worship team and soloist, sign language and drama teacher
Interests, hobbies: sign language, singing, children, shopping, hanging out with friends, dancing
Awards, honors: Sportsmanship Award 2010-11, Homecoming Queen, honor roll, lettered in varsity cheerleading and choir, twice Citizen of the Month for Dowagiac Union Schools
Ambition: going to SMC for two years, then transferring to Western Michigan University to become a speech pathologist
Greatest accomplishment: “I have been able to take the nine years of sign language and drama presentation training I received and am now able to give back by being one of the lead teachers to younger children in my local church.”
In three words: caring, faithful, honest
Competing why?: “I wanted to make lifelong memories with all my friends and to gain experience in interviews and public speaking.”
Platform: The Power of Children

Erica Ann Greenwood
Contestant 16

Height: 5-foot-8 Eyes: hazel
Parents: Steven and Kimberly Greenwood
Sister: Alyssa Greenwood
School activities: National Honor Society treasurer senior year, volunteered many hours with Dowagiac Athletic Boosters throughout high school and assisted with set-up of the awards program, designed and drew the cover for the fall sports booklet and tutored an at-risk senior in algebra, contributing to her passing the class and received her high school diploma
Outside school: hostess and waitress at Lindy’s Restaurant. Volunteered more than 160 hours at The Timbers of Cass County, a rehabilitation and long-term-care facility. Most hours were spent interacting with elderly residents, giving manicures, organizing and playing games, spending time one-on-one, writing letters for a resident and delivering mail. “I specifically enjoyed my time spent visiting the residents because I love to interact with people and help them in any way possible.”
Interests, hobbies: varsity tennis, all four years. Captain as a junior and returning captain as a senior. Volleyball, freshman, sophomore and junior years. Varsity volleyball junior year. Basketball, freshman and sophomore years.
Awards, honors: Academic Award of Excellence, 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years; letters of excellent behavior and attitude, March, June and October, 2010; earned Sportsmanship Award in 2010 for fall sports.
Ambition: attend Grand Valley State University to major in psychology. “I want to help those who may be suffering psychologically — especially children.”
Greatest accomplishment: maintaining a good grade-point average throughout school while being involved in many different school and community activities
In three words: outgoing, confident, caring
Competing why?: “When I was younger, I aspired to be one of those pretty girls on the stage. Now I realize those girls are also gaining confidence, friendship and life skills that will benefit them in the future. I want to be one of those girls.”
Platform: Volunteering

Kathryn Marie Hale
Contestant 17

Height: 5-foot-2 Eyes: bluish green
Parents: Jodi and Randy Hale
Sister: Alexis Hale
School activities: three years of varsity football and basketball cheerleading, three years of varsity competitive cheerleading, one year of JV cheerleading, two years of Chamber Choir, one year of Women’s Chorale and two years in Humanities Club
Outside school: Member at Miss Kathy’s School of Dance, cashier at Hales Hardware
Interests, hobbies: singing, dancing, playing sports, traveling, working out, spending time with friends and family
Awards, honors: three Academic Achievement wards for GPA of 3.8 or higher, four years on honor roll, Homecoming Princess for the junior Class of 2012 for Homecoming 2010, one MVP award for cheerleading and numerous outstanding student awards for dance in tap, jazz and clogging
Ambition: attend a four-year university to major in nutrition and dietetics with a possible dance minor. “I am looking into attending either Michigan State University or Central Michigan University in the fall of 2012.”
Greatest accomplishment: “I have stayed within the top 10 of my class all four years of high school, four years on the honor roll, attending college classes while still in high school, student dance choreographer for two of the high school’s musicals and being accepted into my top college choices.”
In three words: dependable, respectful, intelligent
Competing why?: “I wanted to continue the family tradition of participating in the Miss Dowagiac contest, a chance for a college scholarship and, most of all, the experience and friendships that go along the way.”
Platform: Moving Forward

Caitlin Shurte
Contestant 18

Height: 5-foot-4 Eyes: brown
Mom: April Elliot
Siblings: Darren, Alex, Kilee, Bailey (two brothers, two sisters)
School activities: marching band, concert band, color guard, pep band
Outside school: volunteering at Niles Haunted House and other volunteer work, People to People student ambassador
Interests, hobbies: cooking, baking, swimming, writing, drawing
Awards, honors: honor roll, Who’s Who Outstanding Student Award
Ambition: attend SMC to finish associate degree in business before heading to Baker Community College Culinary Academy to “become a pastry chef and eventually open my own bakery”
Greatest accomplishment: “keeping my head up through all of the hard times in my life.”
In three words: motivated, outspoken, opinionated
Competing why? “I thought it would be a good experience to help finish out my high school career, and if I’m lucky enough to receive the scholarship it will help me start my future.”
Platform: Be the Change

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks