EAU CLAIRE — Eau Claire High School senior Kayla Arend was crowned the new Miss Eau Claire/Sodus in a community Blossomtime pageant Saturday night.
She will now compete with other community queens for the Miss Blossomtime title in March.
Kayla, 17, was chosen from a field of four contestants and is the daughter of Jeremy and Kathy Arend.
She plans to attend the University of Michigan after graduating from high school to major in applied behavior analysis therapy.
In school, she is a member of the band where she has received solo and ensemble honors and is the drum major. She is also a member of the volleyball team, National Honor Society, student government and the prom committee. She has volunteered for the Eau Claire Veterans Day program and at her church.
She received the $100 Hopkins Communication Scholarship for having the best interview with the judges. Other gifts she received for being crowned the queen include a $750 scholarship from local businesses, a $100 gift certificate from Memories and a $100 gift certificate from Wedding Belles.
Saturday’s contest was held at the Eau Claire Student Activity Center before a crowd of about 250 people. The contest theme was “The Greatest Cherry Festival” in keeping with the overall Blossomtime theme of “The Greatest Show.” Each local pageant chooses a theme reflecting the greatest thing in their community.
Anna Burton was named first runner-up in the contest. She is the daughter of Robert Burton and Regina Hall. She is 17 and a senior at St. Joseph High School. She plans to attend Southwestern Michigan College, and then Michigan State University, with the goal of starting her own agricultural business.
Her school and community activities include cheerleading, softball, Peer to Peer, showing animals at the Berrien County Youth Fair and volunteering with the Farm Bureau.
Melanie Ginther was chosen Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants. She is the daughter of Tara Fecho and is a senior at Eau Claire High School. She plans to attend Southwestern Michigan College and then transfer to Purdue University to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine.
The other finalist was Rylee Disterheft. Rylee is the daughter of Ryan and Jessica Disterheft and is a junior at Berrien Springs High School. She plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. to pursue a degree in either occupational therapy or music education.
Zeb Bodtke is the new Mr. Eau Claire/Sodus for 2020. He is the son of Bruce Bodtke and Theresa Cheatham and is a junior at Berrien Springs High School where he is a member of the high school football team. He plans to attend Michigan State University to get a degree in special education.
Saturday’s contest also featured the crowning of the new prince and princess and Little Miss.
Genevieve Rybicki, 7, was chosen the new princess from a field of four girls. She is the daughter of Joshua and Melinda Rybicki and is a second grader at Countryside Academy. Other princess contestants were Azaria Bishop, Serenity Wolf and Paige Shelton.
Milo Jeffries, 6, is the new prince, chosen from a field of three boys. He is the son of Milo Jeffries, Jr. and Tasha Bell. He is a first grader at Lybrook Elementary School. Other prince contestants were Blake Wolff and Carter Schlipp.
Charlie Pipkins, 8, is the new Little Miss Eau Claire/Sodus. She is the daughter of Jerry and Tina Hopkins and is a third grader at Lybrook Elementary School. Other Little Miss contestants were Ellie Saroni, Jessica Renfrow-Bishop, Brianna Wolff and Gabriella Hill.
Judges for the queen contest were Kyra Kruse of Kalamazoo, Susan Solon of St. Joseph and Demi Overly of Kalamazoo. Judges for the other contests were Michelle Taylor of Stevensville, Courtney Knuth of Grand Rapids and Michelle Ellis of Stevensville.
Glen Head was the master of ceremonies. Kaitlyn Head was the contest chairman.