Queen Silver Star Alicia Hill-Turner and Princess Hannah Vaz (middle) meet the 2015 candidates (from left): Miss Silver Star Rotary Margarita Zinovyeva

Queen Silver Star Alicia Hill-Turner and Princess Hannah Vaz (middle) meet the 2015 candidates (from left): Miss Silver Star Rotary Margarita Zinovyeva

Grand debut for queen candidates

The Queen Silver Star Excellence Program, in its 56th year, is now underway with seven candidates

Seven young women have stepped up to the challenge of Greater Vernon’s royal tradition.

The Queen Silver Star Excellence Program, in its 56th year, is now underway with seven candidates and their sponsors.

Madison Catt, Miss Paradigm Naturopathic Medicine

Emily Raven, Miss O’Keefe Ranch

Jenna Smith, Miss Designer’s Gallery

Alexandra Son, Miss Johnston Meier Insurance

Sneha Suniara, Miss Gareb Holdings

Michelle Teichroeb, Miss Kalamalka Rotary

Margarita Zinovyeva, Miss Silver Star Rotary

The program has evolved from the days of a beauty pageant it started as in 1960 to the current five-month opportunity of learning and growth for young women.

“You’re going to have an amazing journey over the next several months,” said Deb White, Vernon Winter Carnival chairperson, during the candidate debut Wednesday.

While Carnival doesn’t roll around until Feb. 5 to 14, the tradition of the Queen Silver Star program begins earlier to teach the candidates a variety of skills.

From etiquette to self defense and automotive to speechcraft, the candidates will spend two to three nights a week training for a royal opportunity.

“The next five months will fly by, embrace every moment the best you can,” said White.

Local politicians applaud the candidates for stepping up to better themselves through the program, which also offers a number of scholarship opportunities.

“It’s a great opportunity and a great learning experience,” said Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster.

“Have fun while you’re doing it,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.

And each of the girls is eager to begin this new chapter in their lives, and possibly earn a spot among royalty.

“I feel that I’m a pretty shy person and I want to be more public,” said Zinovyeva, a Grade 12 Clarence Fulton student originally from Russia. “This program is changing people.”

Fellow Fulton classmate Teichroeb, who has excelled in school and jumped ahead to Grade 12,  also enrolled in the program for personal benefit.

“I thought I could learn a lot of life skills from it.”

Grade 11 Fulton student Suniara is eager for the opportunity.

“You learn a lot of things you don’t learn in school.”

The lone Kalamalka Secondary student, Son, has a list of benefits she hopes to gain.

“Public speaking, self confidence,” said the Grade 11 student.

The experience and preparation the program will provide for the future is key for Smith as she goes into her graduating year at W.L. Seaton.

“I’m hoping just to get the skills and confidence,” said Smith.

Grade 11 Seaton student Raven is also looking forward to gaining similar benefits from the program.

“A lot more self-confidence and it’s a good life experience.”

Fulton’s Catt is also eager for the experience and life-long friends which the girls are about to become.

“And I kind of want to learn more about Vernon,” said the daughter of a Miss Lumby candidate.

And of course, there is the crown.

The young women will showcase the skills developed through the program in three main events – a fashion show, showcase and proclamation. Through these events, judges will determine who will become the next Queen Silver Star and Princess(es) and/or Miss Congeniality.

Reigning royalty Queen Alicia Hill-Turner and Princess/Miss Congeniality Hannah Vaz will turn over their crowns to the new royalty, who will serve as Vernon Ambassadors throughout the province.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the Queen Silver Star Excellence Program can contact Sandra Simao at 250-938-1711 or simaosandra1@gmail.com