‘It’s definitely a confidence booster:’ Traditional Vernon beauty pageant evolves into excellence program for young women

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‘You grow as a person’: Former Vernon beauty pageant offers confidence training and life skills for young women
WATCH ABOVE: The Queen Silver Star Excellence Program is a long-standing Vernon tradition, evolving from a beauty pageant to an intense six month course that teaches young women how to become confident, strong, successful women. Shay Galor reports – Oct 30, 2018

It’s a tradition for young women in North Okanagan that spans almost 60 years and, for the eight lucky candidates who get to participate in the Queen Silver Star Excellence Program, they’ll tell you it’s not a beauty pageant.

“Crowning of Queen and Princess Silver Star has nothing to do with the girls’ looks or the way that they dress themselves,” said committee member Celine Grosch.

Instead, the program focuses on building confidence, community and life skills.

“We teach them speech craft, we do a fashion show. We teach them how to walk properly and keep their heads and shoulders high,” Grosch said. “We teach them nutrition as well as skin care, makeup, hair care, automotive, self-defense.”

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The program is offered to young women from North Okanagan between the ages of 15 and 18.

Up to 10 candidates are chosen per year. Once in the program, the candidates commit to a rigorous and regimented schedule of lessons, often daily, for a period of six months.

The young women also get out into the community, attending events and networking.

After the half-year commitment comes to an end, a queen and a princess are chosen out of the group and presented to the community at the Vernon Winter Carnival.

Last year, Angitha Mriduraj was picked as the excellence program queen.  She said it was a life-changing experience.

“Before this program. I would not be able to stand in front of you and speak as I’m speaking,” Mriduraj said. “It’s definitely a confidence booster. You get out into the community. You network. You get volunteer hours and you just grow as a person and really get to know the people in Vernon.”

One of this year’s candidates, Hayley Rakos, decided to join the program to help with her public speaking skills. After spending a couple of months with the team, she’s realizing there are so many more benefits.

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“Even though I’ve met some of these girls just recently, I already feel an amazing bond and I already know that we’re going to be great friends after this,” Rakos said.

There are similar programs all across the Okanagan, providing young ladies with opportunities for scholarships, volunteer hours and a solid foundation that can last a lifetime.

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