NOTE: This is a developing story and will be updated as competition continues through June 14 and 15.
More than 50 women and teens graced the stage of Missouri Military Academy on Thursday to take part in the second round preliminaries of the Miss Missouri and Missouri Outstanding Teen competitions.
Pageant contestants are split into the Alpha and Sigma groups, with each group doing an aspect of competition each night of preliminaries. The Alpha group of Miss Missouri candidates showcased their talents.
Miss Metro St. Louis Simone Esters, of Columbia, was named as the overall winner for the Alpha group with her twirling routine to "One Night Only" from the musical "Dreamgirls." She is the daughter of Julie Fornadel and Jeff Esters. She attends the University of Missouri and will receive a $500 scholarship for her win.
Miss St. Charles County Ashley Perry, of St. Charles, was named the rookie winner for the Alpha group for her jazz dance to "Proud Mary." She is the daughter of Tim and Lisa Perry. She is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
Sigma presented evening wear and their social impact statements Thursday, which is the campaign on which each girl is focused. They range from supporting literacy programs to the Special Olympics.
Outstanding Teen contestants in the Sash group also presented their evening wear Thursday and answered a question from the judges. The Crown group held its evening wear and question preliminary Wednesday. Both teen groups held their talent and athletic wear preliminary Thursday morning.
Competitions continues Friday and Saturday. Missouri Outstanding Teen will be selected Friday night, while Miss Missouri will be crowned Saturday. A parade is planned 10 a.m. Saturday for all contestants in downtown Mexico, with a meet-and-greet to follow at the Audrain County Courthouse. If rain cancels the parade, the meet-and-greet will still be held at the courthouse.
In the teen preliminary Thursday, Miss St. Charles County Outstanding Teen Faith Moise, of Kansas City, was chosen as the rookie winner for her group in the evening wear and question preliminary. She is the daughter of Glenn and Julie Moise.
Missouri Outstanding Teen 2018 Ashley Whipple asked her a question about what she has learned through her campaign to combat misinformation surrounding vaccinations.
"So many people believe that vaccines can hurt you and are unhealthy,” she said. “But through the Ian's Rainbow Flu Foundation I was able to share and bust those myths and make sure everyone stays safe and gets their flu vaccine.”
Overall winner in the Sash group was Miss Metro St. Louis Outstanding Teen Abbie Mueller, of St. Louis. She is the daughter of Brandan and Amanda Mueller. Whipple asked Mueller how she was able to reach 2.8 million people with her "Self-ValYOU" campain.
"I was blessed to be able to reach out to a local radio station in my the St. Louis area and had the opportunity to talk about my platform and why it's so important to have a positive self-image because it's a real medical issue," she said.