Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tasting... McDonalds! AIDS Walk Boston

I cannot believe that it is already June 1st. Summer is on it's way! My "Right Decisions Right Now" School Tour headed to Chicopee, MA. on Monday for a visit at Lambert School. I think that some of the student are ready for summer, too... They were so eager and energetic during my presentation, just the way that I like them to be! When my powerpoint was finished, we had an autograph session. During this, I sat at a desk while the children lined up and met me one at a time. I loved spending a little quality time with each student. Some even shared stories with me about when they were offered a cigarette and how they said no or how they stood up to a bully. Others told me how happy they were that I came in to visit because now they know how to respond to certain situations. It made me very happy to see how kids were responding! I am thrilled that I can help someone overcome something and be a role model to these students!
The next day, I was in for a treat... I had been invited to West Springfield, "Taste of the Valley" which is an event where local restaurants from Western Massachusetts set up booths in the center of the town and locals can sample the dishes. That event takes place on June 12th. On Tuesday, the "Taste of the Valley" Chef's Preview took place at the Springfield Country Club and I had been invited to attend! At the event I ran into some friends from the West Springfield Rotary and William Wagner, President of Chicopee Savings Bank. Mr. Wagner introduced himself to me and told me that he was a friend of my "Big Papa" (Great Grandfather) who passed in 2005. He brought tears to my eyes when he told me how proud my Big Papa would be of me today. I am glad to have met him and to hear stories from my past.
On Thursday, I was invited to attend another event that revolved around food (do we see a trend here?) This time, I was a special guest at the Grand Opening of a McDonalds in Whitinsville, MA. At the Pancake Breakfast in Springfield, MA. I met Ronald McDonald and we chatted for a while. I guess he liked me and appreciated my love for french fries because he requested me for this appearance at McDonalds!

Ok... so, if you know me, you know my love for fast food - everything in moderation, of course. When I was competing in 2008 for Miss Massachusetts, I definitely tried to eat healthier leading up the the pageant. An unexpected trip to Los Angeles, put a slight damper on that, but I was eating better than I usually did... meaning, NO FAST FOOD! After I won the title of Miss MA, the ones who know me best (Nickie and Nikki) brought me MCDONALDS to feast upon!

My dad and I arrived in Whitinsville, met with Ronald McDonald and Mike with the Mic. I was expecting to see burgers and Mcnuggets when we entered the restaurant, but to my surprise, there was a swanky layout of cheese/crackers, finger sandwhiches, and vegetables. The event was beautifully done with VIPs from Whitinsville present. There was a flag raising, ribbon cutting, and the school band from the town played!
As the even was dying down, Ronald let me have some fun! The staff allowed me to go behind the counter and work the drive-thru! It is definitely more difficult than it looks! The looks on the customers faces when I handed them their food, was priceless! After working for a while, I was led on a tour of the back of the restaurant. I saw how my favorite McNuggets were made and a freezer that had more french fries in it than I could eat in a lifetime (and I love fries)!!!
Later in the week, I had to work off all of that fast food. I did so by participating in the AIDS Walk in Boston! My morning began in the VIP Tent near Boston's Hatch Memorial Shell where I walked around, greeted everyone, and thanked them for participating. I was excited to spot other people wearing crowns! When you raised a certain amount of money, you were given a crown! Once the walk began, I was allowed to mingle throughout the area, meeting local vendors and people involved.

I finally made my way to the finish line (taking a short cut to beat the runners/walkers) and became an instant member of the Cheering Brigade! A group of us held streemers and flags and congratulated the individuals who completed the walk! It was a lot of fun and I made a lot of friends, including Crystal who shared with me her struggle with Mitochondrial Disease. She demonstrated such strength and courage and for that, I admire her.
I also ran into Miss Boston 2009, Lacy Folger, Danielle Muehlenbein, (a former contestant for Miss Massachusetts), Ms. New England, and Ms. Massachusetts. It was a wonderful time for a very important cause!

Love, Alicia

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Miss Massachusetts 2009 Orientation Day

Today was Orientation for the Miss Massachusetts 2009 Pageant... and it was amazing! It was the first day that all of the contestants competing for Miss Massachusetts 2009 were together. The day began bright and early with the crowning of our last titleholder. Brett Bimmler was crowned "Miss Bristol County"! She originally finished as 1st-runnerup at the local pagant, but the winner was unable to compete at Miss MA this year, so Brett was called in at the last minute! I admire Brett for her gusto! Most girls competing have been preparing for months for the state pageant and Brett has decided to step in and give it her all! Way to go!
Once the "Miss MA Class of 2009" was complete, the Miss Massachusetts Board of Directors spoke about the job obligations of Miss MA and what the new lady can expect once she is crowned. Wait, a new Miss MA? This is when it hit me that I wouldn't be wearing this crown forever. As a titleholder, you begin to anticipate the end long before it is there. You sometimes think, "How am I going to feel when this is over?" or "Who will the new titleholder be?" or "did I do all that I could?" However, this was the first time that I was in the presence of all of the local titleholders... and the woman who would be the next Miss Massachusetts! It was slightly sad, but also exciting!

After Buffy spoke, it was my turn to speak with the contestants and business managers. I had been dreading this for quite some time. Not because I don't like to speak in front of a crowd (we all know that I am a chatterbox!) but because I had SO MUCH that I wanted to say to the girls and to the next Miss MA, who was sitting in the audience. I had prepared talking points and went over them again and again. The main points of my speech were to have respect, use your crown as a tool to serve the people of Massachusetts, be prepared for anything, and cherish every single second of your journey. It was very important for me to speak from the heart about my job as Miss MA because I have put my all in to serving. When I was talking, it touched me to see Miss MA 2006 and Miss MA 2007 in the audience nodding along with what I was saying. These ladies knew what I was talking about.

The contestants were then asked to choose their contestant order. The Miss Massachusetts Organization has a fair way of doing this. After you win a local competition, you are encouraged to get your paperwork completed and in to the State Board as soon as possible. The sooner you get your paperwork in, the earlier you get to choose your contestant order AND the better seats you get for the Miss MA pageant! It is pretty important stuff... I know one contestant who won her local title, completed her state paperwork that evening, then drove 2+ hours to make sure that it was in the State Boards hands the next day! (Gina, cough cough ;)
The next portion of "orientation" was the presentation of swimsuits and talent performances by the 2009 contestants. This is to make sure that everything is "up to code". No innappropriate swimsuits or costume mishaps. It all went smoothly and let me tell you... If you are planning on attending the 2009 Miss MA Pageant (July 10th and 11th @ The Hanover Theater) you are in for a treat! The girls competing are very talented, intelligent, and lovely! It will be quite the show and competition!

The contestants had a quick change before we all headed to the Orientation Reception a Assumption College in Worcester, MA. This event is open to all and is the first time that the public meets the contestants. Buffy addessed the audience, then I spoke about highlights of my year as Miss Massachusetts and introduced the contestants!
Remember when I said that the women competing for Miss MA 2009 were all lovely and talented? Well, you can add accomplished, drived, dedicated, and well-spoken to that list. Each contestant spoke about her community service work and educational background and I was very impressed with each and every one!
I hope that you all can join us at the Hanover Theater on July 10th and 11th to see these women compete for the journey of a lifetime!

Love, Alicia

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorial Day

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life
to something bigger than oneself." -Joseph Campbell

On this Memorial Day (an every day) it is important that we reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country and our freedom. We must also ponder those who courageously have fought, are fighting, and will fight for our country. Please also keep in mind the families of soldiers because they too, are serving. Today, remember that freedom isn't free.

In honor of Memorial Day, I was invited to take part in my hometown's Memorial Day Parade and Memorial Day service. The parade was wonderful because I saw many familiar faces from West Side. It was my last parade as Miss Massachusetts and it was humbling to ride through the streets of downtown West Springfield with the Miss Massachusetts crown perched on my head. This crown not only belongs to me, but it belongs to those streets and those people. My hometown has been overwhelmingly supportive during my journey and I will be forever grateful! I look forward to continuing my service in West Springfield (and Massachusetts!) long after my reign has ended.
Sincerest, heartfelt thanks to past, present, and future Veterans and their families. You are in our thoughts and prayers! Special Thank you to Jim Berrelli and the West Springfield Veterans Council for allowing me to participate! God Bless!

On Thursday, I paid a visit to Tatham School to give a "Right Decisions Right Now" presentation. A few of my friends from High School are now teachers and seeing them during my school tour is always fun! I imagine that being a teacher requires a lot of patience, energy, dedication, and hardwork... but I am not sure of many jobs that would be quite so rewarding. I am enjoying speaking with tudents during my school tour. At Tatham, I spoke with two 5th grade classes, handed out photos and answered questions... ALWAYS fun! Children remind us all to continue to learn and laugh.

Love, Alicia

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back to WSHS... very Bizarro!

On Monday, I paid a special visit to West Springfield High School, my alma mater. High School was a wonderful time for me. My passion for the performing arts, education, and people was amplified during grades 9-12 and I owe most of that growth to thestaff and students at West Springfield High School. I spent the day speaking with various classes about setting goals, believing in yourself, and dedicating yourself to your aspirations.

Each hour long presentation inspired me. It was surreal for me to be back in classrooms where I once sat, this time encouraging other people to dream and accomplish. I wasn't there to tell all the young girls to compete in pageants because it is glamorous or how cool it was to be on a reality show... I was there to tell everyone that whatever their goal is -- to be a teacher, to graduate with honors, to be a pro hockey player, to be a mother -- that with work, it can be done. Simple as that. I came in as an example. When I was in High School, sitting in that same classroom, I didn't think "I want to be Miss Massachusetts or I want to be Miss America." one of my goals was to make a difference in the lives of others. I did that by working hard as a student, dance teacher, and role model. The goal of becoming Miss Massachusetts was an opportunity that came about because of all of my previous hard work. Anything is possible when you open yourself up to opportunity and give 110% all of the time.

When my presentations were complete, I walked around the school, saw my old locker (didn't remember the combo) and finally, walked into the Auditorium. To most people this room is a place with a stage, a place to go during an assembly. Not many people know how much the Auditorium at West Springfield High School means to me. The stage was where I performed in my very first dance recital at the age of 2. It is where I have danced hundreds of times as a child, teen, young adult. That stage, the smell of the Auditorium ignited my passion for the performing arts. The memories created on that stage formed who I am today. My journey to Miss America began on THAT stage. Walking on it with a crown on my head humbled me, reminded me how blessed I am, how hard I have worked to get to where I am today.

"The future is not something that we enter,

the future is something that we create."

Thank you to the students and staff of West Springfield High School (past and present) and especially to Mr. Ballentine for arranging my visit!

Now, I would like to talk a little about my Big Brother, Eddie. Eddie is a "struggling actor" in New York City. He is incredibly talented, caring, intelligent and so inspiring to me and I love him with all of my heart. My family is very close knit and supportive... Growing up, we were best friends and it is nice to see that continue into adulthood. Eddie was home for a few days this past week and we had the most amazing time together! He even came to an appearance with me and my Dad!
The appearance was at Six Flags New England and was the Grand Opening/Media Day for the "Bizarro" rollercoaster! This came about when I met the President of Six Flags new England, Larry Litton at a charity luncheon a couple of months ago. During our conversation, I mentioned that I enjoyed riding rollercoasters. He asked if I was a "rollercoaster enthusiast", I said "yes" (because I do LOVE riding them)! He then invited me to the grand opening of their newest coaster, Bizarro, and told me that I would be one of the first people to ride it!
I was super excited for this, especially because Mr. Litton allowed me to bring my Dad (who loves rollercoasters, too) and my brother! Let me rephrase that... I was excited UNTIL I saw the "Bizarro". The Bizarro is a transformed version of the Superman Coaster. It is enormous, reaches 77mph and includes a 221ft. drop! Did I bit off more than I could chew by telling Larry that I was a rollercoaster enthusiast? My brother, Eddie certainly thought so! While we were in line, my brother agreed to sit out the first ride... so my Dad and I mustered up the courage and buckled our belts! The ride was breathtaking! Along with the coaster itself, the effects during the ride were amazing and included fog and fire!

After I rode the first time, Mr. Litton found me and asked what I thought. I told him how awesome it was and he asked if I would like to take photos with him for media purposes, sitting in the front car. Of course, I agreed! After the photos, Mr. Litton told me to buckle up because we were riding the coaster again, in the FRONT car! It was even better being in the very front of the ride... the first plunge felt like you were doing a somersault... 221 feet in the air! When coming off of the ride the 2nd time, I couldn't help but express to my Dad and bother how they HAD to ride in the front cart... So, Eddie decided to ride with me again in the front seat! I cannot thank Larry Litton and the staff of Six Flags New England for allowing my family and i to take part in such a special occasion! We had an absolute blast and won't forget it!

Love, Alicia

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Springfield's Pancake Breakfast

On Tuesday, I paid a very special visit to John Ashley School. Not only did I attend John Ashley as a youngster, but my neighbor and and Uncle work there! Getting out of the car, I could already hear people whispering about the crown on my head. As I approached the door, I saw two little girls with their Moms; the girls were absolutely adorable and in awe of the hardware perched on top of my hair. I introduced myself to them and we began to talk about "Princesses".

Before long, they had spotted every crown that I was wearing that day... my Miss Massachusetts crown, the crown on my sash, crown ring, crown on my crownbox, crown bag, etc. It was like a treasure hunt for them!

I slowly made my way into the school where I found my Uncle Jimmy. Uncle Jim gave me a quick tour of the school, complete with an attempt to see his "school cat" Moochie. I don't know if he is exaggerating, but he tells me that the cat is huge and weighs something like 30 or so pounds! Unfortunately, I could not spend all day looking for the giant cat, so I made my way through the gym class playing dodgeball and into my neighbor's classroom to read.

Everytime that I walk into a classroom filled with young children, I want to cry tears of joy. The looks on the faces of these young people touch my heart in a way that I can't explain... Some look overjoyed, like it's some sort of a dream and they can't believe that someone wearing a crown is visiting them, while others look so shocked that it literally makes me belly laugh! There was a definite mix of those emotions in the room. We had a short introductary period where I talked a little about myself and they each told me their names and favorite colors and hobbies. I think that it is important to relate to the audience in which you are speaking with, to get to their level, because that is the best way to reach children and make them feel at ease. After a short question and answer segment, I read a few book aloud, including "In a Dark, Dark, Wood" which featured the students "Oooos" and "Ahhs" as I tried to make the tale as dramatic as possible! At the end of storytime, I shared a few of my experiences from my year as Miss Massachusetts and the importance of working hard in school, listening to your parents and teachers, and believing in yourself. I then took my crown off and allowed the students to pass it around, very carefully.

I sometimes get slightly nervous that someone will drop it or break it but then I remind myself that crowns are replaceable... moments are not.

Grateful, the students then insisted of giving me a tour of their classroom. I was honored to be taken by the hand to each part of their class by "leaders" who showed me their kitchen area, puzzle area, science area (where caterpillar cacooons were), computer area, and journal area. I spent some time at each station before I had to head out. Before leaving John Ashley School, I peeked my head into my old preschool classroom and was excited to see that my preschool teacher was still there leading lessons. We had the chance to catch up a bit as I shared some stories from my year with her and her students... two of which were the little girls that I had met upon entering the school, the "crown counters"!

My "Right Decisions Right Now" School Tour continued on Wednesday when I visited Chicopee Comprehensive High School. I was blown away when I walked in to the new school. It was BEAUTIFUL! After the presentation, I was led on a tour and saw the huge swimming pool, advanced technology center, and RESTUARANT! Yes, this High School has their own cafe that is student run! This allows the students interested in the restaurant business and/or culinary practices to hone their skills. Thank you to the students and staff for giving me the VIP tour, flowers, and CCHS T-Shirt!
The next morning, I was off bright and early to Anna E. Barry Elementary School for another presentation. Here, I met many wonderful students who asked so many questions. No matter how long it takes, I try to answer as many questions as I can because I adrmire th curiousity of the students. After all, you learn by asking questions! As I was heading out of the school, I saw a familiar face. It was my dance teacher's husband, Mr. Drugan and he was the Principal! It was a wonderful way to wrap up my last school visit of the week :)
On Saturday the 16th, I attended the World's Largest Pancake Breakfast in Springfield, MA! I attended the event with my Mom, Dad, and Grandma. Have I mentioned before that I have the BEST family? They are all so incredibly supportive of everything that I do. I cannot thank them enough for believing so much in me and the work that I do. We met with the clan from the "Miss Western MA/Greater Holyoke" pageant, who are also like family to me. My first local title was "Miss Western Massachusetts" and I blame this group of people for giving me the "pageant bug". Look to where that has led me?! ;)

The local titleholders from Western Massachusetts and I walked around the streets of downtown Springfield that were closed for the festivities. The people snacking on pancakes were so friendly! Then again, who isn't when they're eating those delicious things, right? In all seriousness, the people that I encounter at appearances are what give this title such purpose. I am working for them, to represent them, and to help them in any way that I can.The local titlholders and I took many photos, met the ABC40 News Team, kissed a frog, met Ronald Mcdonald, rode a skateboard and mingled with the townspeople of Western Massachusetts!
Love, Alicia

Sunday, May 10, 2009

School visits continue...

I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine.

She helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights.

~Adabella Radici

First of all, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all of the Mamas out there. It is important that we all take some time to think about how important Mothers are (and not only for the obvious reason of birthing us). My Mother is a constant source of love, guidence, and strength. I thank God for her and my family, everyday.

Now on to my "School Tour Re-Cap" of the week. On Wednesday, I had three "Right Decisions Right Now Presentations" in a row... bam bam BAM! The adventure began at Fausey School (the school that I attended grades 1st-5th). It was such a treat to once again walk through the halls that I had walked through as a child, with smaller feet of course. ;) I set up shop and presented to the 5th graders there. My 5th grade teacher, was in the room for the presentation which made it even more fun! As usual, after my presentation, there was an autograph session. During the autograph session, the students formed a line and you can imagine my surprise to find my 2nd grade teacher in line waiting for an autograph! She had taken a moment to sneak away from her classroom and say hello to me and I appreciated it very much. Visiting Fausey School brought back so many memories that helped to shape my childhood... Cheerleading practice on the plaground, making storybooks in class, lunchtime, and pure happiness.

Unfortunately, I had to rush out to my next school visit, which was at a West Springfield Alternative School. This visit was important to me because I was informed that the "alternative school" in West Springfield did not receive as many visitors and guest speakers as the other schools did. I thought that that was unfortunate and I am always up for a challenge, so I made it a point to visit and was very glad that I did. The group was made of about 12 kids, who I feel truly benefited from what I had to say. My last stop of the day was at another school that I used to attend - West Springfield Middle School! I was delighted to find an auditorium packed with eager children, when I arrived. The presentation was spirited and invigorating... Gosh I wish that I still had as much energy as Middle Schoolers. I enjoyed visiting the Office Staff and even saw some familiar faces during my travels throughout the school! My final school visit of the week was at McMahon School in Holoke, MA. The students were talkative and high energy, maybe because it was a Friday (we all get like that on Fridays, right? :) Which led to a lively question and answer session. I finished the week on a high note and felt like I had made a difference in the lives of young ones. What's better than that?

On Friday evening, I travled to the North Andover Country Club for a "Family Services, Inc." benefit. I hadn't received much information about this event... all that I knew was it was dinner and an auction. As usual, I decided to bring a few cocktail dresses for my stay in Eastern MA and decide what to wear later. After some contemplation, I thought that a black and white cocktail dress would be perfect for the occasion... Well, how lucky am I? Stepping out of the car, I realize that EVERYONE is wearing back and white because the theme of the whole party was black and white! Man, am I good! haha I literally walked into the Country Club thanking God! Phew!

Anyway, the event was a BLAST! The entire room was elegantly decorated in black and white with numerous stations set up for fundraising efforts. There was a silent auction with prizes including a trip to Africa, a bidding on "boxes" that held surprises, and a raffle... and not just any raffle -- being raffled off was a stunning diamond necklace. I almost passed out when I was told that I would be modeling the necklace for the evening while encouraging people to purchase raffle tickets. They sure didn't have to ask me twice! Below is a picture of me wearing the necklace... and not wanting to ever take it off. Unfortunately for me, by the end of the evening the necklace had a new owner. You win some, you lose some, right?During the event they also served a beautiful meal (complete with a crazy chocolate mousse, swan dessert) and had a live band. The fundraiser was a giant success and I need to Congratulate Family Services, Inc. for a job well done and send a Thank You to them for inviting me to take part!

Love, Alicia

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beginning May with a Wonderful Weekend

Just got back from a whirlwind of a time...

On Friday evening, I traveled to New Hampshire to bid farewell to Miss New Hampshire 2008, Natalie Shaw, and to welcome Miss New Hampshire 2009 in to the Miss America sisterhood! Once I arrived, I was thrilled to see a couple of my Miss America sisters : Miss RI 2008 and Miss ND 2008!

The Miss New Hampshire organization puts on a fantastic show! I can't even begin to tell you how impressed I was with the production, the talent showcased, and the scholarships that each contestant received. People tend to forget why young women become involved in this program. Yes, we want to improve the lives of others. Yes, we each have a passion and a talent that we want to perform for an audience... and YES, we want to acheive our personal and professional goals with the scholarship money that we earn by competing.

Anyway, I have an interesting story... The night of the pageant, I primarily went to cheer on my dear pal - Miss NH 08, Natalie Shaw. I did not know any of the contestants competing. After the visiting titleholder introductions, I was waiting backstage and a young lady came up to me and we began chatting. I remembered watchng her talent onstage... BEAUTIFUL piano piece. She was in the Top 10 and was waiting to go back onstage for the announcement of the Top 5 and the crowning. I asked her if she was nervous and then told her to enjoy the nerves. She said that she was nervous (what contestant isn't at the point, right?) and I told her to relax because she had done her best and if it was meant for her to be Miss New Hampshire 2009, she would be. She agreed.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, I went back to my seat to watch the rest of the show, truly believing in what I had said backstage. Whoever was meant to win tonight, would... Lo and behold, this young lady made the Top 5... and ultimately won the title of Miss New Hampshire 2009!
CONGRATULATIONS to Lindsey Graham, Miss New Hampshire 2009 and of course to Natalie Shaw, Miss New Hampshire 2008!

So much fun! So much excitment... and it doesn't stop there. The next day, I was invited to attend Six Flags New England "Summer Kickoff Concert" as a VIP guest! When I arrived, I met with the Park President, Larry Litton. He then led me backstage to the VIP area where the bands hung out and I met his lovely family! Also hanging out backstage was Erin Lucas from "The City", whom I talked with for a bit. I must admit, it was a tad awkward wearing a crown and sash at a concert like this, so you can imagine that an outgoing lady like myself would try her best to make herself comfortable by conversing with others. While I was attempting to pin on my crown, I began talking with a young man who was looking at my like I had 35 eyes. I asked his name, where he was from, and if he was enjoying the concert. Well, the time came for The Veronica's to go onstage and there goes my new pal, Mike, (as in Mike Sherman --> the bassist of The Veronica's)! He hops onstage and does his thing. I also watched Lady Gaga (interesting...) and the band Boys Like Girls. It was a lot of fun and I want to thank Larry Litton and Six Flags New England for inviting me to the event!

If I have learned anything by doing appearances this yer it is that hands down, the most important job requirement of being Miss Massachusetts is being able to relate with all different types of people. So after mingling with Rock Stars on Sunday, I went to speak at a Luncheon for the Ramapogue Women's Club in Agawam, MA. At this event, I spoke about the importance of scholarships, my job as Miss Massachusetts, and the great things that the Miss America Organization does. I had the opportunity to meet the four very talented and intelligent young ladies who received the Ramapogue Women's Scholarship for 2009! My Aunt Josie came along and we enjoyed catching up with eachother and the people of the community. Thank you to the Ramapogue Women's Club and Congratulations to the Scholarship Winners! Keep reaching for your goals!!

Love, Alicia

Friday, May 1, 2009

More RDRN...

My school tour continued last week as I visited four more schools in Massachusetts speaking with students about making healthy decisions. On Tuesday, I was very excited to visit two schools in my hometown of West Springfield!

My first stop was at Coburn School. I had been invitied by the Principal - Mrs. Doe... who was actually my 1st grade teacher! She informed me of how much her students were anticipating my visit. She had dropped hints for the past month about a "special guest" visiting the 5th grade students. She also brought a photo of my from when I was in first grade and asked the students to guess which young lady was coming in! (See below for a photo of a few friends and I in 1st grade...) We had a lot of fun and I was really impressed with how engaged the students were the whole time. They even had some terrific questions for me pertaining to peer pressure, growing up in West Side, and self confidence issues. One of the student actually asked me if I liked chicken nuggets (not lie!!) Little did those children know that I am ADDICTED to chicken nuggets. So much in fact that I sometimes have to fool myself into thinking that they are okay to eat because they have protein in them...

Anyyywayy, after signing autographs and taking photos with the students, I had a quick lunch (obviously of chicken nuggets) then headed to my second presentation of the day which was Memorial School, also in West Springfield. This group was a lot smaller than my first, so after the presentation I had more time to spend conversing with the students in a one-on-one setting, which I particularly enjoy.

On Wednesday, I continued the school tour, this time at Northampton High School. This presentation was a little bit... different. I was chatting with a group of High Schoolers, which is COMPLETELY different than presenting to younger students. I believe that to truly get the points of my presentation across to an audience, the audience must feel as though they can relate to me in a certain manner. With a High School crowd, this can sometimes be challenging... To do this at Northampton High School, I asked the students about each other their individual talents. A few shared that they could dance and sing, so I invited them to the front of the classroom where we had an impromptu talent show! There were even young men showing me their runway strut! So much fun.

I was blessed with a beautiful day in Northampton. After the school visit, Keith and I met up with Helen Hua (Miss Pioneer Valley) and we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Northampton Brewing Company!

After lunch we all walked around in downtown Northampton. Helen had to stop at the bank and before we knew it, she was emerging with one of the bank's employees... Helen laughed as she introduced the woman to us as the "person who notorized my pageant paperwork"! The funny part was, as excited as Helen was, the banker was thrilled to see her again and to meet Keith and I (her business manager and Miss MA). It really goes to show how much the Miss America Organization still excites the public!!

It was a fantastic afternoon that included gorgeous weather and great company. The Amherst/Northampton area holds such a dear place in my heart. I attended UMass Amherst where I fell in love with the people, culture, and FOOD in the area! Pasta E Basta, Antonio's, Fitzwilly's and on and on and on! ;)

On Thursday, I had my final school visit of the week at Bellamy School in Chicopee, MA. Keith had set up this appearance with his Mom, who works there! I was happy to finally meet Keith's Mother. She is outrageously sweet and it is obvious that everyone respects and adores her. I presented to the 5th graders in the gymnasium, then had a tour of the school. While I was walking the halls, I heard someone yell my name. When I turned around, I couldn't believe to see a friend of mine from school! I have known "Miss Rachel" since Elementary school and she was now a teacher at Bellamy! Before leaving, I had to make a special stop at her classroom... She taught a room of all male students who wanted to meet "Miss Massachusetts"! I had so much fun talking with them and to my surprise received a bundle of Thank You notes from them a few days later! These young men are true gentlemen who warmed my heart!

This week helped to solidify my thought that being Miss Massachusetts is the best. job. in. the. world.

By the way, Today (May 1st) is my half-birthday! I am 23 and 1/2 years old! Woohoo!

Love, Alicia

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Hostess with the Mostest"

What a FAB weekend...

On Saturday, I was off to Brookline, MA to host the final local pageant of the 2009 season. There were 16 lovely, talented, and intelligent young women competing for the final three spots in the 2009 Miss Massachusetts Pageant. When I arrived, I was thrilled to find out that three of the outgoing local Queens would be there giving up their titles. I had the pleasure of competing with these ladies at Miss Massachusetts, last year and am honored to be able to call them my friends. They have each had a special year and I know that they will all be very successful in whatever they choose to do next. On that note, Congrats to Miss Commonwealth 2008 - Stephanie Brinton on her recent engagement! :)

At the end of the evening, 3 new titleholders were announced: Miss Baystate, Miss Commonwealth, and Miss Mayflower 2009. Good luck to them as they prepare for our state pageant in July! Sunday was a busy day... It was an early morning, as I set out to Host the 15th Annual South Sectional Aquatics Meet for the Special Olympics at Bridgewater State College! I cannot even begin to tell you how the athletes participating in this event inspired me. They had the most spirit, pride, enthusiasm, and heart that I have ever seen. I had the honor of announcing each team as they entered the gymnasium. I felt the energy and spirit of these individuals as their team was announced. I have heard about how rewarding it is to participate in this event and feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it first hand.
At the conclusion of the Opening Ceremonies, there was a Meet-and-Greet where I had the chance to interact with the Athletes, sign autographs, take photos, and even dance with the crowd.Special Thanks to John Harper and the Volunteers of Bridgewater State College, along with the Athletes, Coaches, and Volunteers of the Special Olympics!

That afternoon, I was scheduled to appear at a benefit for "Children's Hospital of Boston" and "The Children's Miracle Network" at Champion's Pub in Peabody, MA. Right when I walked through the door, I was welcomed with open arms! The benefit celebrated the dedicated staff of Children's Hospital Boston. Funds raised from this event will help pay the medical costs of patients whose families cannot afford care, purchase essential medical equipment, support pediatric research, and provide training for the next generation of pediatricians. Also involved in the fundraiser was Chris Collins from NECN and Bill "Spaceman" Lee! I had a blast with them as we raised funds for an extremely worthy cause!

Thank you to everyone who attended the event and Volunteered their time, including the Mitchell Family, Paul Melendy, Chris Collins, and Bill "Spaceman" Lee.Special Thanks going to "Champion's Pub" for providing a great venue for the event and for the best Steak Tips that I have ever tasted! God Bless and Congrats to a successful event!

Love, Alicia