BERRIEN SPRINGS — It was a day to shine for Blossomland Learning Center students Tuesday as two of their own were crowned Mr. and Miss Blossomland 2020. The seventh annual contest featured five young women and 11 young men vying for the two titles.
The Mr. and Miss Blossomland contest brings together students, parents and area Blossomtime royalty each year in a unique beauty pageant. With this contest, the emphasis isn't just on beauty, but qualities like safety, teamwork, attitude, respect and success.
Each of the contestants was escorted by members of local Blossomtime courts in the early afternoon contest. The new Blossomland royalty will now have a busy year as they will take part in a number of Blossomtime activities, such as the March contests for Mr. and Miss Blossomtime, and the Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade in early May.
The four young people will also serve as ambassadors for Blossomland at Berrien RESA events such as the Festival of Families next fall.
Alyssa Marsee, 25, of Niles was crowned queen. She attends the Niles Offsite Center and works at a number of job sites including Red Bud Hardware in Buchanan, as well as at the deli at the Niles Martin’s. She also has been a student of the month earlier this year.
Her first runner-up is Sara Podjan, 24, of Buchanan. Podjan is a student at Blossomland in Berrien Springs and enjoys going out in the community on field trips and visiting restaurants.
The new Mr. Blossomland is Nolan Parish, 23, of St. Joseph. He attends Blossomland in Berrien Springs. He has been a student of the month earlier this year.
Crowned first runner-up to the king was Jordan McClinton, 23, of Benton Harbor. He attends the St. Joseph Offsite Center. He is a former student of the month and enjoys basketball at the YMCA.
Blossomtime royalty in attendance said they enjoyed the experience and getting the chance to meet with the Blossomland contestants.
“This is amazing, I’ve never done anything like this – it made my day,” Angie Godush said. She was recently crowned Miss Congeniality to the new Miss Stevensville.
Miss Stevensville Alyssa Steinke expressed similar feelings. “I was really excited to be invited to come here,” she said. “It made me happy to see how happy the kids were. It made me feel like I was doing something good for the community.”
Blossomland teacher DeLynn Bushouse-Williams came up with the idea for the contest seven years ago after one of her students spoke of wanting to be a queen. She said the contest has proved to be beneficial not only for the students, but also the community.
“It helps the community have a positive outlook on Blossomland and the students gain skills in interviewing,” she said.
“It’s an opportunity for all the students to be in the spotlight and shine and show off their skills,” said Blossomland Assistant Principal Craig Kuhn. “They learn communication skills and it’s an event that helps to connect them with the community.”
“The kids look forward to it every year,” said Blossomland Principal Tina Lawson. “They’re very excited and they love to see the queens. The queens get a lot out of it too as they come and make connections with the students.”
Judges for the contest were Donna Bradfield of Niles, Nancy Schilling of Eau Claire and Deniece Fisher of St. Joseph.