by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
The contestants walk onto the stage. The audience watches them closely, knowing that only one can be crowned Miss Caprock 2016.
This year, 14 young ladies were chosen by their clubs and organizations to compete for the title of Miss Caprock. The 58th scholarship pageant was held Nov. 13 in the Tom T. Hall Recording and Production Studio in the Creative Arts Building on the Levelland campus.
In order to compete, all contestants were required to have a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 or higher, and must have never been on academic probation.
At the end of the night, Jaycee Caldwell, daughter of Luke and Melissa Dillard of Idalou, was crowned Miss Caprock 2016. She received a $700 scholarship.
Taylor Zarbano, daughter of Tony and Tammy Zarbano of New Baden, Illinois, was announced as the runner-up. She received a $500 scholarship.
Sharon Race, assistant professor of English, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the night. The pageant began with each contestant stepping up to the microphone and announcing her name, who her parents are, and where she is from.
When done, each contestant walked and modeled an after-5 dress as Race gave the audience more insight on each pageant participants, giving the audience fun facts about each contestant.
While the young ladies were backstage getting ready to model their formal wear, Race introduced the judges for the night. The judges were Aaron Green, assistant professor of geology as SPC, Stephanie Allen who attended SPC from 1996-1998 and later served as an assistant professor of speech at SPC from 2002-2012, and Ron Spears, dean of continuing and distance education at SPC.
After Race introduced the judges, the contestants took the stage once more. While the ladies modeled their formal wear and walked across the stage, Race told the audience the three words each nominee chose to describe herself.
When the contestants were done modeling their formal wear, they went backstage. The judges then took the time to decide the top five finalists.
During the wait, entertainment was provided by Rian Castillo, a commercial music student at SPC. He performed covers of “Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison and “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel before the judges announced the finalists.
The top five finalists were: Caldwell, 18, a freshman Print Journalism major, representing the Press Club and Plainsman Press; Zarbano, 19, a freshman Public Relations and Biblical Studies major, representing the Student Government Association; Bonnie Smith, 20, Biology and Education major from Kerrville, representing Smallwood Apartments; Bailey Neatherlin, 19, a sophomore elementary education from Midland, representing Campus Ambassadors; and Alisha Zamora, 19, a freshman pre-nursing major from Brownfield, representing Stroud Hall.
The rest of the nominees were escorted off the stage, while the five finalists stayed on the stage ready to answer the on-stage questions. The five finalists each selected a question from the bowl, and the contestant had to answer it to the best of her abilities.
Once the questions were answered, the finalists stepped off the stage and Castillo came back on to play a song that he wrote while the judges tallied up the votes.
Every contestant came back on stage, and then it was announced that Zarbano was awarded runner-up, and Caldwell was awarded Miss Caprock 2016.
Caldwell was excited when Race announced she was Miss Caprock 2016.
“I was completely surprised and shocked,” Caldwell says, “because I knew I was going to be happy either way, whether I won or not. Because these girls worked super hard. We grew in relationships, and I thought everyone deserved it. My heart dropped and my face turned red. I was really happy and excited.”
Even though Caldwell was crowned Miss Caprock, she explains that wasn’t her favorite part of the night.
“We had to be here an hour early,” says Caldwell. “We got to talk to the other girls, and that’s when we got to really know each other better, and some of our conversations were heart touching. I hope I get to stay friends with these girls past this.”
Other contestants included: Alexis Avitia, representing Phi Theta Kappa; Emily Barraza, representing the Baptist Student Ministry; Sierra Garza, representing the SPC Texan Cheerleaders; Melanie Fernandez, representing the Hispanic Student Organization; Sarai Hernandez, representing the Women’s Complex; Maddie McGuffin, representing SPC TV; Juana Sanchez, representing the Student Life Center; Lorina Tarango, representing the Star Center; and Kristina Thorn, representing Lamar Hall.