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Special Knight: program crowns new Miss Auburn
Victoria Knight has passed this way before.
Five years ago, on the brightly lit stage of the Auburn Performing Arts Center, she was crowned Miss Washington Outstanding Teen.
On Saturday night, the poised, polished 21-year-old woman returned to the same stage – this time capturing the Miss Auburn title and $9,500 in awards, gifts and scholarships from the pageant.
The Miss Auburn program is the largest of its kind in the country. Sponsored by the Auburn Noon Lions Club, it is an official preliminary to the Miss Washington and Miss America Scholarship pageants.
As Miss Auburn, Knight automatically qualifies for the Miss Washington Pageant later this year.
The experience she picked up performing on the stage helped Knight shine in a deep, talented field of 16 other contestants.
"I think it's so very important to have that experience," Knight said afterward. "I almost never see girls try once and be successful in every (phase of competition). But now all of these girls who are runner-ups will have the opportunity to come back. ... That experience is just a foot in the door."
Auburn's Salina Ellison was first runner-up and Kent's Heather Haggin was second runner-up, followed by Auburn's Savanna Stephan-Borer (third runner-up), Auburn's Jessica Justice (fourth runner-up) and Auburn's Morgan Warren (fifth runner-up).
Knight liked her chances but didn't expect the crown.
"I thought I would place, make the top five," Knight said. "But I did not know that I would win it, so I am very thrilled. I'm excited, especially to represent such a great city.
"I'm very surprised," Knight said after receiving congratulatory hugs from contestants, family and friends. "A lot of hard work went into this, especially the areas of the competition that are not natural to me. ... The entire process is what I worked on."
The new Miss Auburn wants to take it a step further.
"It's been such a long time since Auburn has had a Miss Washington. I plan to make that my goal, to get them back on the map," Knight said.
Devanni Partridge, Miss Auburn 2007, won the Miss Washington crown in 2009 as Miss Seattle. Amber Hamilton, Miss Auburn 1995, won Miss Washington the same year, the first woman to do so from the city.
Knight, daughter of Heidi and James Krajewski, graduated from Rogers High School of Puyallup before moving to Auburn. She is a junior at the University of Washington-Tacoma, where she is pursuing her masters in communications and studying nonprofit management. She wants to become a charitable events coordinator for a nonprofit organization.
An outstanding student, leader and speaker, Knight co-founded Queens for a Cure, was an assistant director for multiple youth theaters, represented Rogers High as a Daffodil Princess and served in student government.
Knight ran on the platform: Passionately Pink: Community, Commitment, Cure! (for breast cancer).
For her talent segment, Knight, an experienced vocal theater performer, sang Queen's "Somebody to Love."
Knight was sponsored by the Auburn Noon Lions. Isabella Rose Mills served as her Little Sister.
In the eight-strong Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen competition, Amanda Enz took the crown. She ran on the platform: Cancer – Search for a Cure, and performed a jazz dance.
"I'm so happy," Enz said. "I wasn't sure about my chances because all the contestants were lovely, and I thought everybody deserves to win."
In addition to her awards, gifts and scholarship money, Enz qualifies for the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen competition.
Enz, 14, a student at Rainier Middle School, is the daughter of Kim and Derek Enz, of Auburn.
Kelsey Barrett, a Running Start student at Highline Community College, was first runner-up and Sophia Tekola, who attends Tahoma High, was second runner-up.
Celebrating its 51st year, as of Tuesday, the Miss Auburn showcase had generated more than $52,000 in gifts, awards and scholarships for its contestants ... Tera Sabo (Miss Auburn) and Allison Arthur (Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen) passed on the crowns. ... The Miss Auburn Scholarship Program honored Nancy Backus with a lifetime achievement award. Backus spent 33 years with the program, beginning as a contestant and concluding as its president for 24 years. She has helped a total of 536 contestants and overseen $569,195 in scholarship awards during her years of service. ... Tamie Bothell follows Backus as the pageant's president and co-executive producer. ... Sharon Bartkowski also received a lifetime achievement award for 24 years of work with the program. She served as a board member, printer, sponsor and mentor to contestants. ... Bartkowski's late husband, Joe, was honored as the pageant's 2013 Local Hero. Joe Bartkowski served on the board and produced the program for 20 years. The Bartkowskis also were contestant sponsors and scholarship donors. ... Miss Auburn contestants were scored and judged the following way: private interview (on Jan. 19) 25 percent; lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit 15 percent; talent 35 percent; on-stage interview 5 percent; and evening wear 20 percent. ... For more highlights, photos, visit www.missauburn.org.
PHOTO BELOW: Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen Allison Arthur crowns Amanda Enz, the new Miss Auburn Teen. Rachel Ciampi, Reporter