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Tampa teenager wins junior pageant crown

Brenda Orcutt, 15, is named National American Miss Florida Junior Teen and will compete in a national pageant.

Published July 15, 2003

TAMPA - In her first pageant, a South Tampa teenager took home a statewide crown.

Brenda Orcutt, 15, was named National American Miss Florida Junior Teen on Sunday at the Wyndham Palace Resort in Orlando.

A pool of about 120 contestants was gradually narrowed down to five finalists before Orcutt accepted a trophy, crown, flowers and a check for $1,000.

"I was shocked," Orcutt said. "I think I stood there for at least 10 seconds with just this shocked look on my face."

Orcutt will be a sophomore at the Academy of the Holy Names. Outside of classes, she participates in cheerleading and ballet.

Pageant contestants were judged on "inner beauty, poise and presentation," according to a press release. But when Orcutt first received an invitation to enter the pageant, her mother, also named Brenda Orcutt, was skeptical.

"I'm not a pageant mom," her mother said. "All I wanted was for my daughter to be as successful as she could be."

Now, Mrs. Orcutt said she realizes the pageant helped build her daughter's self-esteem, taught her how to interview and gave her a chance to become a role model for other girls. It also provided scholarship money.

"I just think it's a great growing experience for her," Mrs. Orcutt said. "It's something she'll always hold dear."

In November, Orcutt will compete in the national Miss American Miss competition in Anaheim, Calif. Her parents, Brenda and Greg Orcutt, and her grandmother will join her for a day at Disneyland and a tour of Hollywood.

Orcutt said she'll bring along everyone who attended the Orlando pageant.

"They're my good luck charms," she said.

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