Professor hopes to learn what Miss Ohio victory looks like | New

You are more likely to have a son performing in the Super Bowl than a daughter to compete on the Miss America stage.

It’s an old adage often cited by contestants of the Miss America Scholarship Pageant.

It’s ultimately true too.

You see, Miss America recently celebrated her 100th birthday, but in just 56 years of Super Bowls, more men have performed on that famous stage than on the scholarship pageant runway.

It’s actually quite easy to do the math.

With two 53-player teams preparing for the Super Bowl each year, the number of attendees for the annual NFL Championship Game has already exceeded the number of young women who have appeared on the scholarship program scene.

A teacher who grew up in Pickaway County hopes to defy those odds, as she competes for the Miss Ohio title in Mansfield next week. The winner of this pageant will step onto the Miss America stage in Connecticut in December.

Emily Legenza, 24, is currently the choir director for the Alexander Middle and High School Choirs and also teaches general music for grades 6-12 in Athens County. During her time away from the classroom, she is the college’s cheer coach.

“I was a student teaching at the schools in Jackson City when COVID-19 hit which cut short my time with them, but luckily I was able to interview Alexander in person before all of that. I was hired in February/March by Alexander Schools about a week before the world as we knew it shut down,” she said.

Legenza’s early years were spent in Pickaway County.

“Even though I’m so young, my teachers at Pickaway really set me up for success early on,” she said. “In fact, my first taste of pageantry was at the Circleville Pumpkin Show. I was a freshman competitor – I didn’t win, but I loved being in a parade.

Legenza’s experience in the field of education directly led to her passion for promoting teachers, a cause she chose to take on for her social impact initiative that contestants in all local competitions and Miss America states must have honed and mastered.

“My social impact statement is for teachers only,” she said. “Advocating for teachers nationwide to make meaningful changes to education at local and governmental levels to benefit teacher mental health, working conditions and pay.

“It is time to improve educational supports by ensuring that our educators are supported. This comes from the years of watching my own teachers struggle during particularly poorly funded times (like 2008), but also from my own experiences and observations now as a teacher myself and seeing the side effects of COVID on education. I want to make teaching a more desirable profession. Ultimately, teachers create all other professions.

The ability to not only talk about one’s initiative, but also possess strong interpersonal communication skills are key to winning state and national titles.

Over time, Legenza has been able to hone both its communication skills and its social impact statement. She credits her personal growth to participating in the competitive system for several years and earning her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Ohio University in May 2020.

Her love for OU and the Athens area actually started at an early age and she loves living here.

“I’m originally from Wauseon, Ohio. I lived in Circleville from about 2-6 years old and started school in Pickaway, but moved to Wauseon in 2004. I always told my parents I wanted to come back here someday.

“My parents are both Buckeyes, and I think they accidentally introduced me to Athens,” she continued. “While going down on a family vacation when I was in seventh grade, we were traveling on 33 when we saw the signs for Ohio University. But we had already passed OSU in Columbus, so I was confused.

“We had a brief discussion about the difference between OU and OSU, but when I finally got to see the FUMC steeple, the courthouse and the way the south rear bunks lined the right side hock from the car window, I was sold. From then on, even as a middle schooler, if you asked me where I wanted to go, I said Ohio University. It felt like pure magic to me.

This will be his second trip to the Mansfield stage. As Miss Northwestern Ohio three years ago, Legenze made her state pageant debut.

His return journey, however, was not so smooth.

After competing in seven or eight locals in 2020, Legenza was only able to achieve runner-up status, which was frustrating for her, but then inspired her to compete again last season.

“I didn’t win after doing seven or eight local preliminaries,” she said. “It was awful, I felt absolutely miserable. I felt like I had been the best version of myself at Miss Ohio and I felt like I wasn’t going to get that back.

To make matters worse, she was about to do her last competition of the year and was thrilled to graduate from OU, and then the pandemic hit.

After a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 winners competed last June. Legenza felt she still had some business to take care of with the program and won the Miss Greater Cleveland title in February. This victory allows her to participate in the Miss Ohio pageant this year.

As for one area of ​​competition that’s no longer part of the program, but remains a controversial topic among MAO volunteers and longtime participants, the swimwear category, Legenza has some strong opinions.

“I was a big fan of it when it was there,” she said, adding, however, that eliminating the competition in 2019 made her see things differently when it came to the jersey. bath.

“It gave me my first glimpse of people who don’t necessarily have bodies that fit the mold and were left out. I see the reasoning behind (the decision to cut the swimsuit phase of the competition .)

She noted that her own training regiment was affected by her studies which did not necessarily afford her much time to dance or train as she did when swimsuit was still a judged category.

One area that remains in program scoring is the talent show.

And even that has changed, at least for Legenza.

She will perform an opera piece, titled “Bel Pieacere,” by Handel for Talent, a stark departure from what she sang in the 2019 state competition.

“I changed my talent from musical theater to (opera) because I think I do better classically and I wanted to do something where I could be myself,” she said.

Being herself is essential to Legenza’s game strategy to win Miss Ohio.

And there’s no better competition segment better suited to what she does than the interview portion of the program.

This year’s applicants, for the first time, can submit an actual resume to the judges, instead of fact sheets that don’t necessarily portray young women from the perspective they might want to see when looking for a job. use.

Legenza pointed out that Miss Ohio’s job is, indeed, a job, and she’s applying with the same enthusiasm she used to get her teaching job.

“This year you could use a real job resume and it will give me more control over the interview,” she said.

It is almost certain that as a teacher, Legenza will be asked about her career and the many obstacles that teachers currently face in the classroom.

She is ready for these questions.

The most likely question she will receive from the judges is about guns in classrooms and her answer is pointed.

“I grew up with guns and feel very comfortable with them, but I don’t want to carry one (in class),” she said, adding that she felt security in his building, “But you never know. I’m sure the kids in Texas felt safe.

When the school holds drills, she and many other teachers always get nervous.

“Even though we know it’s a drill, you still have on your mind (wonder if an actual incident might happen.),” she said.

Whether she wins Miss Ohio or not, her teaching-related social impact statement will remain front and center.

If she wins — and even if she just remains the local title holder — Legenza wants school district students to like the teachers.

With several years of participating in local programs and a previous year at a state competition behind her, Legenza feels ready to go from being a local winner to seeing her dream of becoming Miss Ohio finally come to fruition.

When Legenza started competing, she said she “wasn’t a (enough) confident person and now I perform so often it’s like second nature to me.”

Having won around $4,000 in scholarships since entering the Miss Ohio program, Legezna said whoever is crowned the state winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

If the judges selected her, she would be officially free of college loan debt.

“I actually didn’t pay anything out of pocket for my senior year,” she said of scholarships obtained through MAO.

Although her teaching, coaching, and preparing for competitions don’t leave her much free time, when she has a free moment, Legenza admits to thinking about what winning Miss Ohio would be like.

“I think about it a lot. We can choose our crowning song and I’ve been playing it a lot recently.

The song chosen by Legenza is “What Dreams are Made Of”, by Hillary Duff.

She hopes to hear this song performed on June 19, when the new Miss Ohio is crowned.

It would also be the fitting end to a two-year period of transitions and adjustments for Legenza.

“I felt like I had unfinished business with this organization,” she said. “Winning would mean I achieved what I set out to accomplish,” she said, adding that with a victory in the state competition, “I would feel a sense of accomplishment because I know that I have something to give back to this program”.

The Miss Ohio pageants and her outstanding teenage pageants take place in Mansfield June 15-18. For more information on ordering Legenza pageants and to purchase pageant tickets, go to

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