Katarina Schweitzer of Grossmont High School was crowned Miss Teen San Diego Cities on Monday night at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre, winning a $500 scholarship in the event’s debut.
A 17-year-old junior who was Miss Teen La Mesa in 2009, Katarina chose fighting obesity for her 45-second onstage speech. She was picked by a panel of three judges over eight other entrants before a cheering audience of 150 in a new pageant directed by Alexandra “Alex” Kuty, a former Miss La Mesa who runs the La Mesa and Santee pageants as well.
San Diego State journalism senior Kristen Faith Paruginog, 21, of the College Area, was crowned Miss San Diego Cities—which Kuty called a successor to the defunct Fairest of the Fair pageant, which ended in 2004.
The old Del Mar Fair pageant drew from city pageant winners, but with some towns dropping their events, Kuty said, she wanted to revive a countywide event to allow other young women to benefit from the pageant experience.
Fifteen young women made up the Miss San Diego Cities field, vying for a $1,000 scholarship.
Paruginog—in perhaps a Carrie Prejean moment—voiced strong support on a controversial subject during the question-and-answer phase of the competition.
Instead of same-sex marriage, she weighed in on whether a Navy cargo ship should be named for Hispanic labor leader Cesar Chavez. She was for it—taking exception to Rep. Duncan D. Hunter’s opposition to the naming.
Paruginog, who is of Filipino ancestry, told the judges and audience: “Why not honor someone who has made a difference in our community and our country?”
Given the large Hispanic population in San Diego County, she said afterward, the naming of the ship for the farmworker activist was appropriate.
Ironically, she wouldn’t have drawn that question had it been answered earlier by Elise Czelusniak, 24, an SDSU graduate who originally drew the question but said she wasn’t familiar with Hunter’s opposition to the ship naming. She asked for—and was granted—another question to answer.
The query—whether the entrant agreed with Hunter’s stance against the Chavez ship naming—was submitted by Stephanie Anne Sullivan, 22, a UCSD graduate from Scripps Ranch, said pageant director Kuty.
Kuty said each entrant wrote questions to be drawn from a crownlike basket, and organizers wanted the young ladies to “submit a challenging enough question.”
“I don’t think the question was too political,” Kuty said after the 100-minute event, which was open to all young women in San Diego County.
Other topics included whether students should be able to keep cell phones in classrooms and why they were the best pick for the pageant title.
Teen judges were Katie Bestebreurje, a former pageant winner in Virginia and North Carolina who recently bought a home in Encinitas with her fiancé—and who helped Prejean as a personal trainer; James Vasquez, an award-winning director at the Old Globe Theatre and Cygnet Theatre; and Kristina Johnson, Miss La Mesa 2007.
The Miss San Diego Cities judges were Christie Alvarado, a former pageant entrant who recently started a Christian etiquette program for girls; Booker T. Crenshaw Jr., a senior publicist at SeaWorld; and Anna Nowling, a finalist in Miss California USA.
Head judge was Laura Boehhmke, a 14-year teacher at Helix Charter High School who now works at Steele Canyon High School. Essay judge was Wendy Kelishes, an English literature graduate of SDSU.
Other Miss San Diego Cities contestants included Poway’s Abby Lynn Balcom, 19, of Palomar College; SDSU graduate Sierra Billock, 23; La Mesa’s Lindsey Rochelle Palser, 20, of Cuyamaca/Grossmont College; Alpine’s Lacey Chanel O’Brien, 19, of SDSU; La Mesa’s Cassandra Steppat, 18, of Cuyamaca/Grossmont College; Poway’s Lara Bourque, 17, of Rancho Bernardo High School; La Mesa’s Rosie Frank, 18, of Grossmont College; La Mesa’s Hope Phipps, 19, a graduate of Helix Charter High School; Santee’s Rebecca Hudson, 19, of Grossmont College; El Cajon’s Megan Araujo, 17, of Granite Hills High School; Point Loma’s Lisa Manuccia, 25, of Cal State San Marcos; and Chula Vista’s Nohely Mendoza, 20, of SDSU.
Other teen contestants included Santee’s Jennifer Ehlke, 17, of Santana High School; La Mesa’s Jaclyn Combs, 15, of High Tech High School; Spring Valley’s Chrissy Rhaamy, 16, of Steele Canyon High School; Santee’s Lesya Zhukovska, 16, of Grossmont College (she skipped a few grades); Santee’s Laura Williamson, 13, of Carlton Oaks School (headed for West Hills High); Rancho San Diego’s Ashley Harold, 14, of Hillsdale Middle School; Santee’s Hannah Fletcher, 16, of River Valley Charter School; and La Mesa’s Heather Bardin, 17, of The Academy of Our Lady of Peace.
The emcees were Alexis Swanstrom, an award-winning tap dancer and the current Miss California Teen USA headed for University of San Diego, and Emma Baker, a 2009 Poway High School graduate who won second runner-up in the 2010 Miss Teen USA pageant.
Besides the Miss Teen San Diego Cities crown, Katarina also won plaques for best essay and best speech. She runs track and plays basketball for the Foothillers, is active in Junior ROTC and hopes to major in kinesiology in college.
Here are the complete pageant results, courtesy of Alex Kuty:
The results for Miss San Diego Cities were as follows:
Miss San Diego Cities 2011, Kristen Paruginog
1st Runner up, Hope Phipps
2nd Runner Up, Stephanie Sullivan
Miss Photogenic, Cassandra Steppat
Speech Award, Stephanie Sullivan
Interview Award, Hope Phipps
Essay Award, Lindsey Palser
The results for Miss Teen San Diego Cities were as follows:
Miss Santee 2011, Katarina Schweitzer
1st Runner up, Jennifer Ehlke
2nd Runner Up, Heather Bardin
Miss Photogenic, Lesya Zhukovska
Speech Award, Katarina Schweitzer
Interview Award, Katarina Schweitzer
Essay Award, Hannah Fletcher
Katarina Schweiter is a junior at Grossmont High School. Her activates at school include the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps where she is second in command, Varsity Cheer, Girls Varsity Basketball, Girls Varsity Track, G~Crew Leadership program and Girls League. She is this year’s representative to Girls State for Grossmont. Her ambitions include becoming a Kinesiologist or a Dental Hygienist. Katarina enjoys surfing, swimming, playing dodge ball and hanging out with her friends. Katarina has been inspired by the “Let’s Move” initiative presented by Mrs. Obama and is excited to begin educating children in choosing a healthier life style.
Kristen Faith Paruginog is a senior at San Diego State University and is majoring in Journalism with an emphasis in Media Studies and a minor in Sociology. In her spare time, Kristen enjoys volunteering and has accumulated over 5000 hours of community service. She was awarded the President's Call to Service Award from President Barack Obama. Kristen has been a Professional Polynesian Dancer since the age of three and has traveled across the country performing in front of thousands of people.
Story updated on June 3, 2011