My name is Jordyn Lawton and I held the title of Miss Curwood Festival in 2012. My cousin, Morgan (Walters) Brown preceded me, holding the title in 2011. In response to the recent letter to the editor published by Hannah Zwolenksy, both Morgan and I wanted to share our experiences and the impact that representing our community had and continues to have in our lives.
Jordyn: I have been involved with the Curwood Pageant since 2001, when I ran for Miss Curwood Princess. While I did not win the first year that I competed (Morgan actually won that year) I came back in 2002 and was crowned princess, which led into one of the most memorable summers of my childhood. Ever since then I have been heavily involved in the pageant and have volunteered whenever possible during the festival weekend, despite the fact that I now live in Grand Rapids. When I was chosen as Miss Curwood Festival in 2012, I signed a contract that stated that I would be a positive representative of the Owosso community, I would conduct myself appropriately and I would advocate for the festival when visiting surrounding cities and towns. I received a scholarship which I put towards my college education and had one of the most rewarding years of my life, largely in part to the Queen’s chaperones, Sarah Adams-Hoover, Debbie Adams-Mills, and the Princess chaperone, Jamie Zmitko-Somers. Not only did I have outstanding chaperones, but I was also welcomed into a strong “Curwood Sisterhood” of intelligent, gracious and kind women that I look forward to seeing every year at the pageant and at the festival.
Morgan: I have been involved with the Curwood Pageant since 2000 and was crowned Miss Curwood Princess in 2001. I have spent much of the last 18 years volunteering my time to not only the pageant, but also to the Curwood Festival. I was never part of a sorority in college, but I can tell you that this sisterhood is like no other. I’ve gained so many mentors and role models over the years and another Curwood royalty alum even helped me start my career with The Hershey Company. I was chosen as Miss Curwood Festival in 2011 and also signed a contract, as every scholarship winner does. The hundreds of girls who have been part of this organization for many years understand how much time our volunteers dedicate to this town, especially Sarah, Debbie, and Jamie, as Jordyn stated above. To say this group of women are welcoming and inspiring is an understatement.
The Curwood Pageant is anything but a stereotypical beauty competition. As a contestant, you participate in a series of interviews over two separate days, you are asked on-the-spot questions in front of an audience and you are judged based on how you carry yourself throughout the process. For us, participating developed a sense of self-confidence in our public speaking and ability to express our opinions in a well-thought out manner; both skills that we have used well beyond that year. To say that the women who have held this title were told to “smile and look pretty” is simply untrue. The intellect amongst these women and the passion that all of us have for this community is something that we are so proud to be a part of. We have women who are nurses, teachers, business-owners, who work for national corporations – the list is extensive. Many of these women continue to live in Owosso and give back to the community, and those who have moved away often return to help with the pageant every year. We admit Owosso has its flaws and is not perfect, but we strive to be part of the solution, rather than trying to tear it apart.
We also would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the sacrifices that Debbie, Sarah, and Jamie have given to run this program for decades. They have spent countless hours planning, guiding and mentoring all of us. These three women have been role models to us since we were eight and nine years old, and we speak for many when we say that the admiration that we have for them is difficult to capture in words.
While the removal of Hannah Zwolensky and her scholarship is unfortunate, we sincerely hope that as the community digests all of the information provided, they will keep in mind that there are two sides to every story. We are proud to call ourselves former Miss Curwood Festivals, we are proud of the years that we were chosen to represent our community and we are proudest of the strong group of women whom we are lucky enough to be a part of.
Miss Curwood Princess 2001,
Miss Curwood Festival 2012