Two local ladies vye for Miss Tulare County title


Two local girls will be trying for the tiara and shining for a share of thousands of dollars in scholarships this weekend.

McKenzie Blue, 23, of Lindsay and Diana Reynaga, 17, of Woodlake are both contestants in the Miss Tulare County Scholarship Pageant on March 2.

“None of the girls are the same as the day they walked into auditions,” said June Amaral, executive director of pageant. “This experience is life changing.”

Blue and Reynaga will join 10 other contestants and five teen contestants in the Miss Tulare County Pageant on March 2 where they will compete for the opportunity to represent the County and the Valley in the Miss California Pageant in June. The girls will also be vying for a portion of more than $16,000 in scholarship awards.

Miss Tulare County receives $4,000 in scholarship money and another $1,000 to compete in the Miss California pageant. Miss Central Valley receives $2,000 plus $1,000 toward the Miss California pageant. First place wins $1,000 and second place, $750 in scholarships. In addition, all of the other contestants will receive $500 each. There are also numerous other scholarships which can be won individually.

“We teach the girls that everyone has a story, so always be kind to the person next to you,” Amaral said. “Out of these stories come greatness!”

Amaral said contestants will learn invaluable skills along the way that will help them in any career path. She said each contestant will be interviewed, practice public speaking and write a platform about an issue they are passionate about. The contestants will be judged on poise, presentation, community service, artistic impression/talent, physical fitness and swimsuit presentation, and overall composition and on-stage knowledge.

“From mock interviews to talent practices, learning to prepare a resume and support a platform, learning to be part of a team and the kindness they’ve learned,” Amaral said.

McKenzie Blue, the daughter of Vahnn and Lori Blue, is no stranger to the crown. She was Lindsay’s 2011 Orange Blossom Festival Queen, Lindsay High School’s Cheer MVP and earned an FFA Award. Since graduating from LHS in 2008, Blue has earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, studied abroad in Italy and traveled to Ecuador to experience the education system in different cultures. Blue plans to graduate with a master’s degree in education from the University of Laverne in June. She wants to become an elementary school teacher.

“I think seeing schools in other countries help us evaluate our own methods of educating,” Blue said.

Blue said her platform is on expanding enrichment program for gifted students. Her talent is a theatrical dance to “Show Me How You Burlesque” by Christina Aguilera for the 2010 film “Burlesque.”

Just weeks away from her teaching credential and months from her master’s degree in education, Blue said she would use her scholarship to help pay off student loans.

Diana Reynaga, the daughter of Jose and Maria Reynaga, has a crown of her own. The Woodlake High School senior was named Miss Woodlake just six weeks ago. At WHS, Reynaga is the vice president of Interact, sponsored by the Woodlake Rotary, is a member of Key Club, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. She is also a member of Roots and Shoots, a volunteer group which does garden clean-ups and talks about environmental issues, and runs the 800 meter for the Tiger track team. She also coaches AYSO soccer. She is also treasurer/secretary of Tiger Fusion, a club where students volunteer their time in the school’s special education classes to interact more with students with disabilities.

“I think the whole experience is all about focusing on the positives and how to improve yourself,” Reynaga said. “I hope I can help people heal and be a positive influence in their lives rather than them focusing on a negative environment.”

Reynaga said her platform is empowering young adults, focusing on the issues of teen pregnancy, substance abuse and teen suicide. Her talent will be a Mexican folk dance to “Le Negra.”

Helping others is something Reynaga enjoys and is planning to make a career out of it. Reynaga said she plans to attend COS. She would use the scholarship money to transfer to a university where she hopes to earn a doctorate in psychology.

The Miss Tulare County pageant begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at L.J. Williams Theater, 1001 W. Main St. in Visalia. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and $10 for students with school identification card, and $35 for VIPs, and available at the door.

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“These girls have become a family and a blessing to each other,” Amaral said. “We love them and support them and as their Executive Director I couldn’t be more proud of each of them.”

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