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Julianne Abenoja Crowned Miss Olympian

BY MARY FRANCES LITTLE, CO-EDITOR 

On Saturday, November 20, the 55th Miss Olympian was crowned. Last year's winner Kendall Crabtree passed her title to Julianne Abenoja as she was announced as the 2022 Miss Olympian. Julianne has competed in the pageant for two years, first in her sophomore year and again her senior year. 

“We were so excited to crown Julianne Miss Olympian this year! She exemplifies a true Miss Olympian through her talent, poise, and consideration of others,” pageant director Frances Vandevelde said.

Julianne was honored to be announced as the winner and has loved competing in the pageant both years. She enjoyed getting to know all of the other contestants and said that competing as a senior gave her a different perspective than competing as a sophomore did.

Julianne has been dancing since she was two, and she continues to train for 14 hours a week with dance company Birmingham Dance Theatre. Her talent in this year’s pageant was a dance to the song “Elephants” by Rachel Yamagata, choreographed by Kim Wolfe, which ultimately won her the title.

Over the summer, Julianne competed in and won the Distinguished Young Women of Jefferson County Scholarship Program. “I was really honored to receive that title, and I go to compete at the state level in January, so I've been preparing a bit for that, which definitely helped me in the Miss Olympian Pageant,” Abenoja said.

The 12 contestants were judged in three categories: interviews conducted prior to the nighttime show, a three minute talent performance and a traditional pageant walk. Aside from the Miss Olympian title, senior Anne Kelly won Miss Congeniality, senior Lizzie Amberson was first runner up, and junior Anna Bella Foster was 2nd runner up.

The talent portion of the pageant was extraordinary. The second runner up, Anna Bella Foster, sang an opera piece “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Giovacchino Forzano and Giacomo Puccini. First runner up, Lizzie Amberson, danced a self-choreographed routine to the song “Helium” by Sia.

The talent portion was concluded with the final performance and presentation of 2021 Miss Olympian Kendall Crabtree, as she danced to “Rock Your Soul” by Elisa.

The pageant tradition of male talent throughout the show was upheld by juniors Gri Cashio, who played “Little Martha” by Allman Brothers, Sam Edmunds, who played “Snuff” by Slipknot, and Austin Langton, who played “Nocturne No. 9 Opus 2” by Frédéric Chopin on the Piano. After the intermission, junior Ethan Cox played “Untitled #4” by The Avett Brothers, and seniors Drury Anderson and Teddy Kent played “I Was Wrong” by Chris Stapleton.

David Pruet and Bay Matthews served as the Master and Mistress of Ceremony, charming the audience with their jokes. The 2020 Miss Olympian, Marissa Luna, returned to the stage and serenaded the audience with her vocal talents during the final walk of the contestants.

The pageant is a student-run show, and this year’s staff consisted of 15 girls along with co-directors Camille Emblom and Frances Vandevelde. Directors say the class is run methodically, as the two of them focus on “the bigger things people don’t see...but other people have specific jobs, like tickets and programs, male talent, set design, etc.”

This year’s theme was “The Sky’s the Limit,” and the set was adorned with pastel clouds and hot air balloons, thanks to set designers Martha Balogh and Hayden Hawkins, with special help from scenery/lighting designer T. Gary Weatherly. Other staff jobs consisted of choreographers Catherine Guilsher, Cate Cooper, and Caroline Hellums, publicity team Anne Adams Ware and Lauren Jones, judges Kate Methvin and Sophie Kampakis, script writers Stella Young and Julia Grooms, ticket and program team Caroline Gillis and Ally Williams, and male talent team Ally Prater and Cate Lewis.

After the final walk of 2021 Miss Olympian Kendall Crabtree, the contestants took to the stage for the announcement of the awards and Miss Olympian crowning. The months of hard work put in by staff and contestants proved to be successful, and the crowd cheered not only for the winners but also for all those who came together to make the 55th Miss Olympian Pageant happen.