City native pens children’s book

GLOVERSVILLE — A former city resident released her first children’s book Wednesday based on her experience competing for Miss New York after winning Miss Fulton County in 1988.

Kerry Molina, maiden name Christiano, grew up in the city living here through her graduation from Gloversville High School in 1988. Up to that year, she had never competed in the Miss Fulton County pageant, but always enjoyed seeing it with her mother.

At the time, Molina studied dance at the J & J Williams Dance Studio on Bleeker Street, where her instructor always encouraged her to do her best.

As a senior in high school, Molina decided to enter the pageant for the first time with dancing as her talent.

“It seemed like fun and a great way to earn scholarship money for college,” Molina said of her decision to enter.

Much to Molina’s surprise and excitement, she won the title.

“It’s a wonderful tradition in Gloversville and it was so neat to be a part of that,” Molina said. “It’s a great opportunity for women in Fulton County.”

Winning Miss Fulton County qualified Molina to compete in the Miss New York State pageant where she came in fourth place. Molina said placing in the top five at the statewide competition was a first for someone from the county.

After that experience, Molina went to Ithaca College, coming back to the area to compete in Miss Fulton County and Miss Capital Region in Albany a few more times.

Molina graduated from Ithaca in 1992 with a bachelor’s in art history and received an M.A. in museum studies from George Washington University before settling in Virginia.

While in college, Molina wrote the story of her experience participating in Miss New York State for the first time. After making it past the first round, Molina had to perform her dance routine in the talent portion of the competition.

For a moment while she was dancing, Molina said that she forgot part of her routine and lost her way. By thinking back to the work she had put into her dance lessons and reminding herself that she could do it, Molina was able to complete her dance.

Molina went on to become a fifth-grade classroom teacher for nine years, then a stay at home mom after having two kids and later she opened an art studio where she sells her art and teaches lessons to children and adults.

As the years went by, the teacher in Molina knew that the story she had written of her pageant experience included some great lessons for children and rewriting the story as a children’s book always remained a goal for her.

On Wednesday, Molina released that story in the self-published book, “Kaci Keeps Going.”

The book tells the story of Kaci, a young girl dancing in front of a live audience. Despite months of practice, Kaci loses her confidence in the pressure of the moment, becoming gripped by fear. Ultimately, Kaci is able to gather her courage through the power of positive thinking.

“In today’s world, I think that kids are privy to a lot more negative influences than in previous decades. Kids need to be taught early on how to choose joy, think positively, and solve problems. They need to know that they already have all the strength they need inside them to do hard things and accomplish great things,” Molina said.

The book is geared towards elementary school-aged children, featuring illustrations by Molina and Katie Keleman and rich language that older children can enjoy.

Keleman did the realistic drawings for the book, while Molina created mixed media artwork for the pages giving the illustrations a collage-like appearance.

“Kaci Keeps Going” is available for purchase online on Amazon and at KerryMolina.com.

Molina is planning to visit the city for her 30th high school reunion later this year and hopes to hold a book signing or meet and greet while here. For her next project Molina would like to publish an oversized deck of cards with idea prompts to be used for journaling or mixed media artwork.

For now, she’s just focusing on the launch of her first book.

“I couldn’t be more excited, it’s a dream come true. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and just having it in my hand is beyond thrilling,” Molina said. “It’s another lesson that everyday you should take a step towards your dreams, even if it’s a baby step, and pretty soon you’ll have something in your hand.”

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