GLOVERSVILLE - A crowd that flowed into the balcony at Gloversville Middle School's main auditorium Saturday night watched former Miss Fulton County 2008 come back to win the title again four years later.
During the pageant, Miss Fulton County 2012 Colleen Gagne had to answer the question of whether she thought America was better or worse now than it was 50 years ago. Her enthusiastic answer was better "technologically and in so many ways. Go America, we're great!"
Gagne's $4,000 scholarship winnings will be put towards a nursing degree as she works towards degrees as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner. She is a Gloversville graduate as well as a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and has shown both athletic prowess as the 2007 GHS Most Valuable Offensive Player in field hockey and mental acuteness with a 2005 Odyssey of the Mind award for exceptional creativity. She even writes her own music.
First runner-up Courtney Sheridan graduated from Fort Plain Central School, attends FMCC and plans to use her $2,000 scholarship money towards certification in school guidance counseling.
Second runner-up Baylee Simpson is a senior at Johnstown High School as well as an early admission student at FMCC. She plans to put her $1,000 towards a degree in dance as a step towards a career as an athletic trainer or pharmacist.
Third runner-up Katelynn Smith, a graduate of Broadalbin-Perth High School, is a student at FMCC and will put her $750 scholarship towards a degree in broadcast journalism.
Colleen Gagne is crowned Miss Fulton County 2012 by, left, Miss Fulton?County 2011 Kieren Sheridan and Miss New York 2011 Kaitlin Monte during the Miss Fulton County Scholarship Pageant at Gloversville Middle School on Saturday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Not only was a wide area of the county represented by the winners, but a variety of what Miss New York 2011 Kaitlin Monte, also in attendance, called the "passions of each contestant."
Gagne's expressed passion was battling depression, Sheridan's platform was speaking out against teen dating violence, Simpson's platform was multiple sclerosis awareness, while Smith's was suicide prevention.
One of four judges, Deb Finkle of Gloversville said the task of judging was both "tough and awesome," and that she enjoyed the experience.
Outgoing Fulton County Outstanding Teen 2011 Alexis Swatt said the past two years she has served in that title have been "amazing."
"I've had a lot of fun and met great people," she said.
Miss New York State Field Director Stuart Williams, who was there to observe the program, said it was great to see young women who entered in succeeding years grow with experience.
"The growth you see these girls go through is incredible," he said.
Miss Fulton County Scholarship Program President Jennifer Flynn said she was happy with the community support the audience represented.
"We're very pleased with the turnout this year," Flynn said.
Outgoing Miss Fulton County 2011 Kieren Sheridan advised contestants to "take a breath" and that she was more nervous watching the contestants than when she competed herself.
Mistress of Ceremonies Lisa McCoy said a 10-minute interview that took place prior to the staged competition counted for 25 percent of the score for each of the 13 contestants. Questions answered on stage represented another 5 percent of the final score, 15 percent was based on "lifestyle and fitness," which was the swimsuit portion of the program, then 35 percent was figured from the artistic expression, or talent presentations. The competition was completed with evening wear as the young women presented in formal dresses which counted 20 percent towards a final score.
Vincent and Margaret Perrella said they were there to support Heather Graves as was her grandfather Joe Ricciardi of Caroga Lake.
"[Graves] has a lot of energy - a lot of spunk," Vincent Perrella said.
Lori Burns was there to cheer on Tristen Satterlee.
"She has a great personality," Burns said.
Richard Grosse of Fultonville was there to cheer on his granddaughter, Lynn Tryon. As of the intermission Grosse said, "so far so good. She knows what to expect."
He went on to say he hated to see the young women cry when the winners were announced.
"Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose," Grosse said.