The Miss Delaware Scholarship Organization, a precursor to the Miss American Scholarship Pageant, crowned a new winner over the weekend. And, while the winner represents Dover, several New Castle County contestants made their marks on the 2013 pageant.
The opening number of the Miss Delaware 2013 Pageant featured all 23 contestants performing a complex, choreographed routine to Will I Am's hit club tune, "That Power." Those 23 girls were quickly whittled down to 11, though, with several New Castle County young ladies leaving their mark alongside this year's winner, Miss Dover Rebecca Jackson.
Wilmington resident and current Miss Middletown Jamila Mustafa, who may not have walked away with the crown, did walk away as Miss Congeniality, typically awarded to the girl with the most gracious attitude and positive attitude and voted on by fellow contestants.
"For me to even make it to the top  was phenomenal," said Mustafa when asked about her reaction to advancing forward in the pageant. "And a lot of people said, 'You should've made it to the top five; I thought you were going to win. But, it's so hard for the judges because it's not like it was a blowout. Everybody was good."
Third runner-up went to Miss Hockessin Brittany Lewis, a scholastic young lady who sees the possibilities of pageants. Lewis holds two Bachelor degrees from Temple University-one in African American studies and another in broadcast journalism. She was also Miss Greater Reading 2012 who was named as the second runner-up in the 2012 Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Pageant.
"It was really great," said Lewis when asked about her experience competing in Miss Delaware. "It was really interesting comparatively from going to Pennsylvania first and then coming to Delaware. From just meeting the contestants, I really appreciate Delaware. I definitely felt welcomed immediately when I entered the Miss Delaware organization. I'm really glad to be here and be a part of this family now."
More pageants are definitely in her future.
"I'm excited to run in another local [pageant] and coming back to Delaware," said Lewis.
First runner-up went to Middletown resident Miss Mid-State Alix Hayden Gardner. So, if for any reason the newly crowned Miss Delaware can't fulfill her duties, Gardner could find herself in a brighter spotlight. However, she's not concentrating on that at all. She's just happy with how she placed and happy for her friend.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic. I never thought this would happen to me," said Gardner. "This year, my goal was to do better than I did last year and I really wanted to make it into the top five. And, to be honored as Rebecca Jackson's first runner-up, I couldn't be more happy about that."
The winner of the pageant earns almost $10,000 in scholarship money and the opportunity to compete in the Miss America 2014 competition later this year in Atlantic City, NJ.
"I'm just so excited to represent the state of Delaware and I know I'm going to do a great job," Jackson said during the after-party.
Jackson's platform is fostering children and her mission involves "teaching them music in order to facilitate bonds between their family and them," she said. "But I also want to take this to [schools] because every single child can relate to music and can find their self-worth in music."
Miss Delaware 2012 Alyssa Murray is confident Jackson will shine as her replacement.
"I could not be happier with their choice," said Murray, of Selbyville. "She's going to do wonderful things with the title, as far as service, and she's going to be a force at Miss America."