Edwardsburg student crowned Miss Teen Blossomtime

ST. JOSEPH — Standing on a stage surrounded by nine other young women who were complete strangers just weeks before, Paige Albright burst into tears as her name was called.

Emotional, Paige turned to Raelyn DeGroff, of Paw Paw, and embraced her, before kneeling to have a crown placed on her head. Paige, a 15-year-old Edwardsburg High School sophomore, had just been crowned Miss Teen Blossomtime by her predecessor.

“Ever since I was a really young age I used to get prettied up in crowns and pretty dresses,” Paige said a few days after earning the title, explaining her path to becoming a pageant contestant. “This was a dream come true.”

Paige is no stranger to the spotlight. Last year she was crowned Miss Teen Edwardsburg, and has also held titles of Second Runner-Up to Junior Miss Apple Festival and Jr. Miss Apple Festival’s Miss Congeniality.

Different from the pageants she has competed in previously, the Miss Teen Blossomtime pageant presented new challenges.

“The [pageants] I’ve done before have just been one city, but this one had girls coming from other areas and age groups,” she said.

Miss Teen Blossomtime includes participants from all over southwest Michigan who are ages 13 to 15. The Blossomtime organization also hosts the Miss Blossomtime pageant, in which community queens aged 16 and older from all over southwest Michigan (including Edwardsburg) compete. The Blossomtime organization also hosts the Miss Heart of Blossomtime pageant for young women interested in vying for Miss Blossomtime, but do not have a pageant in their community.

Paige said that her favorite part of the pageant was getting to know her fellow contestants and working with contestants in other age groups.

“Definitely backstage was the memory I’ll hold onto forever,” she said. “Even though you are competing against one another, backstage we’re flying all over the place helping each other get ready.”

During her reign as Miss Teen Blossomtime, Paige will represent her community and the Blossomtime organization by ensuring her peers feel included. She will attend community pageants and parades, and volunteer her time for community service projects like reading at schools or visiting assisted living centers.

Paige said contrary to some people’s beliefs, this is what the pageant world is all about.

“A lot of people think that it’s just beauty pageants, or just a few people thinking that you’re really pretty or look good in a dress,” Paige said. “I try to explain that there’s an interview and the girls are really great that you get to go out with.”

Paige emphasized that pageants are hard work, and that skills honed during pageants help her grow and develop as a young woman.

“It’s not just a beauty pagean,” she said. “You’re not just being judged on your looks. It’s how poised you are, your stage presence, how well you do in an interview. … There’s a lot of work that goes into it. You don’t just step on stage and get crowned.”

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