Local women ready for Miss USA, Miss USA Teen competitions

Friday, April 12, 2019 - 11:12
  • Miss Alaska USA Teen Meghan Scott, left, and Miss Alaska JoEllen Walters pose for a photo with Tayvairion and Keanna Guda as the North Star Elementary students’ father, Basha, takes a photo during a send-off celebration held Thursday, April 11, 2019 at North Star. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Miss Alaska USA JoEllen Walters signs autographs during a Miss USA send-off celebration Thursday, April 11, 2019 at North Star Elementary. Walters is a first-grade teacher at the school. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Miss Alaska Teen USA Meghan Scott talks to a fan during a Miss USA send-off celebration Thursday, April 11, 2019 at North Star Elementary. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Miss Alaska USA JoEllen walters talks to Chloe Pagel during a Miss USA send-off celebration Thursday, April 11, 2019 at North Star Elementary. Walters is a first-grade teacher at the school. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Miss Alaska USA JoEllen Walters talks to fans during a Miss USA send-off celebration Thursday, April 11, 2019 at North Star Elementary. Walters is a first-grade teacher at the school. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Miss Alaska USA JoEllen Walters gives an autographed photo to former student Tayvairion Guda during a Miss USA send-off celebration Thursday, April 11, 2019 at North Star Elementary. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

Even if she doesn’t become Miss Universe, the students at North Star Elementary still think Miss Alaska USA JoEllen Walters is the world’s best teacher.

“She’s very nice and she gives us parties,” said first-grader Titus Topps during a send-off celebration for his teacher, who will travel to Reno next week for the Miss USA pageant.

Topps said the students get parties for doing good work like finishing a “compliment chain” for doing good work.

“We get one when they tell us our line is beautiful and we’re doing a good job,” Topps explained.

North Star principal Julie Sery said the second-year teacher from Chugiak has a knack for connecting with her young students.

“She is a teacher that every child wants to be in their room,” Sery said.

Walters donned her Miss Alaska USA tiara and a bright yellow dress for Thursday’s send-off in the Midtown school’s multipurpose room. Surrounded by cakes and refreshments, Walters and Miss Alaska Teen Meghan Scott of Eagle River signed autographs and posed for photos with fans and well-wishers.

Scott’s platform is helping youth with mental and physical disabilities. She’s a longtime volunteer for Special Olympicas and Camp Barnabas, a Christian summer camp for special needs children in Missouri.

Pageant contestants are judged on three categories: personal interview, swimsuit (or active wear for teens) and evening wear. There is no talent competition. Contestants in the Miss Alaska USA pageant be between 18 and 28, while Miss Alaska Teen USA must be between 14 and 18.

Both women will leave for Reno next week, where they’ll compete in the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants. The winner of the Miss USA competition will compete for the title of Miss Universe.

If she wins, Walters will have to take a leave of absence from teaching to take over as Miss USA. The competition requires winners to live in New York City — and the yearlong commitment begins immediately upon being crowned.

Leaving her students would be difficult, she said, but would allow Walters to have a national stage for her platform, awareness of the proper disposal of prescription drugs.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.

Walters has been spreading her message about prescription drug disposal since she was a student at Chugiak High. She also volunteers her time after school to help students and even donates blood.

“She’s just one of those dedicated people,” Sery said.

North Star parent Basha Guda said his son was in Walters’ class last year and he praised her ability to communicate with parents and get the most out of students.

“She’s a very good person,” Guda said.

The Miss USA pageant will air on FOX May 2 at 8 p.m. The Miss Teen USA competition will stream live April 28 at missteenusa.com.

Among those watching will be teachers and staff at North Star, where principal Sery said there’s “a whole crew” that will be attending a watch party for Walters.

“Of course we’re a little biased, but we think she’s going to win.”

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274.

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