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Winning pageant titles left them speechless

The teens have much in common. They are members of the school's performance group Breez. And both have philosophies of life that include a higher power.

By PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 23, 2000


INVERNESS -- Kristen Howard and Kacie Whaley both say they had the same reaction on successive sparkling evenings recently -- speechlessness and a feeling of being overwhelmed -- when they were crowned Miss Teen Citrus County and Miss Citrus County, respectively.

In separate contests, the two young women competed for the titles in four categories: interview, bathing suit, evening gown and talent. Both sang in the talent category. Kristen, 15, sang Orange Colored Sky, and Kacie, 17, a big fan of the late Patsy Cline, sang Crazy.

Kristen and Kacie attend Citrus High School. Kristen is a sophomore and Kacie is a senior. They are members of the National Honor Society and the school's performance group, Breez.

Kacie plays the French horn and was a drum major for the school's marching band during this year's football season. "That was an honor," she said.

She sings with the school's chamber choir and in the chorus. "I love music, I do," she said. She loves music so much, in fact, that she wants to make it her life's work. She plans to attend Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, where her parents went, and study music education. "They have one of the best music programs in Florida," she said.

Right now she plans to teach elementary school music but is open to earning a higher degree and teaching older students later.

Kristen is her class' treasurer and was on the school's golf team. One of her biggest interests is sign language. "I think it's neat to be able to communicate with someone with sign language who has no other way to communicate in the world," she said. "Also, it's very beautiful to watch."

Kristen's future plan is to be an interior decorator, and she is leaning toward the college of design at Florida State University. "I realize I've been blessed with the ability to match colors, piece things together," she said.

Both girls have philosophies of life that include a higher power. Said Kacie, "If God is the center of your life, you do achieve all things. That's how I've gotten as far as I am. I couldn't have done it without him."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart," said Kristen. "Lean not on your own understanding. And in all of your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your path."

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