DERRY — A 20-year-old Nashua woman was crowned Miss Greater Derry after wowing judges with her impressive baton-twirling skills.
Jessica Avelar, a junior at St. Anselm College, is a five-time world baton-twirling champion whose talents have brought her to competitions on Germany, China and beyond.
The daughter of Luis and Tina Avelar, she’s pursuing a degree in criminal justice. She’s been a member of the Red Star Twirlers for the past 12 years and said her experiences onstage inspired her to compete in the Miss America Scholarship competition.
Avelar, whose platform cause is Help for Children in Need, wore a gold, sparkly mermaid gown and a sleek, red bikini onstage during Friday night’s pageant.
Nine contestants vied for the title during the two-hour competition at Adams Memorial Opera House.
Open to young women from the greater Derry area, the scholarship program has been around since 1987.
Miss New Hampshire 2014 Megan Cooley, who first earned the 2014 Miss Greater Derry crown, reflected on her pageant experiences before passing the torch to Avelar.
Cooley will represent the Granite State in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City this September. She bade farewell to her year as Miss Greater Derry, fittingly, by singing the song “On My Way.”
As Miss Greater Derry 2015, Avelar earned a $6,000 college scholarship and the chance to vie for the Miss New Hampshire title.
First runner-up Holly Blanchard of Derry earned a $2,000 scholarship, while second runner-up Stephanie Iacuzio, also of Derry, earned a $1,050 scholarship.Blanchard, 22, is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she majored in communications. Iacuzio is a senior at Plymouth State University majoring in communications.
This year’s contestants were awarded a total of $15,500 in scholarships and awards.