BERRIEN SPRINGS — Volleyball team captain and future nurse Karissa Porter was crowned Miss Berrien Springs 2019 from a field of eight contestants in a community Blossomtime contest Saturday night.
The contest was held before a crowd of 500 people in the Howard Performing Arts Center on the Andrews University campus. The contest theme was “New Mexico: The Land of Enchantment” in keeping with this year’s Blossomtime theme of “America, The Places You Will Go.”
Karissa, 17, will now compete with other community queens for the Miss Blossomtime title March 10-11 at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center in Benton Township.
The new queen is a senior at Berrien Springs High School and is dually enrolled at Southwestern Michigan College. She is the daughter of Chris and Karla Porter. She plans to attend the SMC nursing program after high school and eventually specialize in anesthesiology.
Karissa wore a fuchsia ballgown with a sweetheart neckline, off the shoulder straps and a beaded bodice.
Her school and community activities include volleyball, where she’s been the team captain for three years, the Bel Canto and Concert Choir, honor roll, the Dean’s List at SMC, Relay for Life and Five Pines Ministries. She has also shown at the Berrien County Youth Fair in the past.
She said she was most proud of making the honor roll in high school and the Dean’s List at SMC.
“I am so determined to put my best foot forward no matter what I am doing,” she said when asked about what makes her unique.
Abbie Shunkwiler, 18, was chosen first runnerup in the contest. She is a senior at Berrien Springs High School and the daughter of Steve and Julie Shunkwiler. She plans to attend college to major in health sciences as well as continue mission work around the world.
Her school and community activities include volleyball, choir, honor roll and volunteering at her church, including a 2017 mission trip to Belize. She is projected to be the 2019 valedictorian at Berrien Springs and is also dual enrolled at SMC.
Berrien Springs senior Alexa Kesterke, 18, was chosen second runnerup. She is the daughter of Tom and Amy Kesterke and Kighle Flamm. She plans to attend college and pursue a career in the medical field.
Her school and community activities include volleyball, National Honor Society, choir, honor roll, BCS Leadership Academy, fall festival and the Krasl Art Fair. She is dual enrolled at Lake Michigan College.
Kaitlyn Williams, 17, was chosen Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants. She is the daughter of Jeff and Tammie Williams and is a senior at Berrien Springs High School. She plans to attend college to pursue a masters of business administration with a focus on accounting.
Her school and community activities include color guard, tennis, band, cheerleading and National Honor Society.
Berrien Springs seniors Clayton Bixby and Peyton Dustin were chosen to be the Mr. Berrien Springs representatives. Clayton, 17, is the son of Bryan and Jennifer Bixby and is a member of the baseball team. Peyton, 17, is the son of Bill and Kim Dustin and is a member of the football team.
Rhyan Perkins, 8, was chosen Little Miss Berrien Springs 2019 from a field of six contestants during the queen contest. She is a second grader at Mars Elementary School in Berrien Springs and the daughter of Jake Perkins and Sheila Snyder.
Other queen contestants were Julia Barron, Cheyenne Chapman, Thandi Gmitter and Chloe Pate. Other Little Miss contestants were Briana Janka, Piper Perez, Ava Miranda, Morgan Turner and Addison Wattles.
Radio personality Pat Moody served as master of ceremonies. Lindsey Mitchell was the contest chairman. Queen judges were Sharon Gregorski, Donna Monell and Lacey Peters.