Miss NH looks back as this year's competition nears

Union Leader Correspondent
April 15. 2018 9:58PM

28 contestants are hoping to win the title of Miss New Hampshire and the chance to compete in Miss America this fall. Group rehearsals were held Sunday at Exeter High School. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

EXETER — As 28 contestants rehearsed group numbers Sunday for the upcoming Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Pageant, current titleholder Lauren Percy explained how her year of service has impacted her life.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Percy said. “It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.”

Percy’s platform is “Reach Higher: Making Higher Education Possible.” She is a volunteer financial aid coordinator for the Manchester School District and gets field credit from Columbia University in New York City where she is a graduate student.

Percy said her title has given her a seat at the table during discussions about higher education. As Miss New Hampshire, she has written grants and helped promote the scholarship program, which awards $70,000 to contestants every year.

Percy said she is all right with passing on her crown, but she will miss the volunteers who work with the nonprofit organization.

The contestants have been preparing since March for the competition, which will be held April 26, 27 and 28 in Derry. On Sunday, rehearsals took place at Exeter High School.

Chris Piccolo, who has been involved with production of the pageant for 23 years as a volunteer, said this year’s theme is based on the music and feel of the 1980s.

Miss Capital Area Kaitlin Soucy, of Manchester, 19, said she loves the remixes and choreography.

Soucy’s talent is dance. She will be performing to “Hold My Heart” by Lindsey Stirling.

“It keeps the audience guessing about what’s going to happen next,” Soucy said about her choreography.

Soucy is a student at Southern New Hampshire University and studies elementary special education. Her platform is “Time to G.I.V.E,” which is focused on volunteerism.

Emma Colen, 17, of Nottingham, is Miss Strafford County. She said the 80s theme allowed her and her mother, Terry, to have some extra special bonding time during preparations for a pageant photo shoot.

“She pulled out a box of 80s jewelry and a semi-formal dress. I crimped my hair,” Colen said.

Cohen is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover. She said it is purely coincidence she is dancing to “Pretty Young Thing” by Michael Jackson, which was released in 1982.

Cohen’s platform is “Rehabilitating Individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries Everywhere.” She wants to be a nurse and became interested in paralysis recovery after suffering a stress fracture in her back which forced her to stop dancing for eight weeks.

Lauren Fohlin, 22, of Manchester, is Miss Lake Sunapee Region. Her platform is “Keeping the Arts Alive, One Beat at a Time.”

Fohlin is a student at Southern New Hampshire University and wants to bring performing arts classes to Manchester schools.

Fohlin is singing “One Perfect Moment” from “Bring It On: The Musical.” Because this is her first time performing at Miss New Hampshire, Fohlin says the song selection is based on her preparations to get there.

Fohlin said she doesn’t get nervous before performing.

“I’ve always been one to focus before an audition by listening to music or with a coloring book,” Fohlin said.

Elizabeth Henry, 18, of Durham, is Miss Bedford.

This is Henry’s second year competing in Miss New Hampshire. She described the challenges of juggling her college class load with preparing for the pageant, which takes place just before finals at the University of New Hampshire.

“It’s challenging, but a great learning experience. I’m writing all my finals papers in advance,” Henry said.

Henry is studying English, journalism and communications at UNH.

Henry is singing a jazz version of the song “Tomorrow.” Her platform is “Stop Bullying: Be More Than a Bystander.”

Henry said social media has brought bullying to a whole new level for youth, and students need to learn to stand up for each other as early as second and third grade. The next Miss New Hampshire will be crowned April 28 at Stockbridge Theatre in Derry. The pageant begins at 6 p.m.

For information about tickets to the scholarship pageant, visit missnh.org.

EducationNH PeopleDerryManchesterDurhamExeter

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