SB High Miss Cardinal pageant showcases beauty of community service

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Photos courtesy Jamie Rios: San Bernardino High School Miss Cardinal contestants with Pageant Director and Bilingual Outreach Worker Jamie Rios. The program focuses on community service, outreach and engagement. Since June, participants have volunteered at dozens of community projects. The community is invited to attend the Miss Cardinal pageant on Saturday, Sept. 23 at The Sturges Center for the Fine Arts at 6 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m. for Red Carpet.

Community service is the core element of San Bernardino High School’s Mr. and Miss Cardinal Pageants. For the past 15 years the crowned winner represents the school at local events. This year there are 24 Miss Cardinal contestants who will vie to become the school’s ambassador on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Sturges Center for Fine Arts in San Bernardino.

Photos courtesy Jamie Rios: Miss Cardinal contestants with San Bernardino City Mayor Carey Davis, from left: Angelica Murillo, Aylin Hipolito, Alexis Armendariz, Luz Martinez, Mayor Davis, Blanca Rivas, Javier Molina (Mr. Cardinal 1st runner up), Lorena Hernandez.

According to SBHS Bilingual Outreach Worker and Pageant Director Jamie Rios, participants who were shy, introverted and lacking in self-confidence are transformed to being assertive, outgoing and competent public speakers.

“It’s an incredible feeling to watch these girls blossom with self confidence and pride that they overcame their shyness,” Rios said.   “Some said they couldn’t do it, but they persevered and if I let them drop out it enables them to quit in other aspects of life; but they pushed forward and at the end can say, with pride, ‘I did it.’”

The program started in June over summer vacation, and had contestants at dozens of community service outreach projects that included assembling hygiene kits for the homeless, packing clothes for non-profits, serving at a soup kitchen, wrapping gifts for Santa Claus Inc., and inspiring other students.

“My favorite project was when we went to Riley Elementary and spoke with the fifth graders about what to expect in middle school,” said Daisy Sandoval, 17. “We were able to and calm their fears and at the same time motivate them to do community service.”

The youngest contestant, Luz Martinez, 16, found the entire experience fulfilling, “I didn’t know that I would enjoy serving the community so much.”

Community members volunteered to teach the group of seniors correct posture, how to walk the runway, interview with confidence, and apply make up.

Bad anxiety and selective mutism inhibited Diamond Deam, 17, from engaging with and speaking in front of peers. But three months into the program she has transformed into a well-poised young lady with a confidence she had not realized before.

“I learned the skills needed to maintain my composure, to keep my goal set in mind and move forward,” Deam said. “The girls were very supportive of me and encouraged me to hang in there.”

Rios explained that participants literally got their hands dirty over the past three months and the pageant is the culmination that celebrates each of their hard work, commitment and community service.

“This has been an eye-opening experience that gave me the extra push to go out into the community to make a difference,” Kimberly Leonardo, who plans to study criminal justice in Hawaii, noted.

The pageant is not a mere beauty pageant, explained Rios, instead it emphasizes the importance of community engagement and service, while allowing contestants the opportunity to be rewarded and enjoy the pomp a pageant entails.

“Without this program most students will never have the chance to experience the magic of being on stage, showing off their newfound confidence dressed in beautiful gowns with professional hair and makeup,” Rios concluded. “They all deserve it.”

The community is invited to attend the 2017-2018 Miss Cardinal Pageant on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Sturges Center for the Fine Arts at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. for the Red Carpet event.

Photos courtesy Jamie Rios: Some of the Miss Cardinal contestants volunteered at the Susan G. Komen Foundation fundraiser at St. Bernardine Medical Center. Back row from left: Diamond Deam, Angelica Murillo, Karen Campos, Daisy Sandoval, Sophia Gonzalez, Destiny Aguilera, Lorena Hernandez, Brianna Roman, Leslie Gomez. Middle row: Alexis Armendariz.

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