Elena Pavlicas said hearing her name called during last night's Miss Farmington pageant was "just so exhilarating".
She was crowned at the close of the 2012 pageant, held at the , and received the Dick Tupper Goodfellow Spirit Award. Wednesday was also Pavlicas' 16th birthday.
Still wiping away tears as she hugged family and friends during a post-event party at , the 15-year-old student said she was so overwhelmed, she started to cry. "It was so wonderful," Pavlicas said.
While she'll be busy with community activities over the coming year – starting with tonight's – Pavlicas said she will support the backpack program at and the "Born This Way Foundation", founded by pop superstar Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta. The Foundation aims to encourage a more accepting society.
"It's about embracing the way people are and just being who you are," Pavlicas said. "If you can love yourself, you can love others." She said that's especially important in light of this year's Miss Farmington essay topic, preventing teen suicide.
"I hope as Miss Farmington, I can go around talking to children about being who you are, and accepting others for who they are," Pavlicas added.
Second runner-up Grace Newlin has the distinction of being the youngest contestant, at age 14. The student said she is looking forward to being a role model, along with Pavlicas.
"I'm so happy," Newlin said through tears. "I couldn't believe it. Since I am one of the youngest, it was definitely an honor."
Farmington High's Kristina Franchi, 16, will be a familiar face as she takes her place in Miss Farmington's court. She often participated with Miss Farmington 2011 Elise Newcomer at community events.
"I'm really excited to go to all the events again," she said. While winning is a "perk" of the pageant program, Franchi said being involved in the community is why she participates. She said the most heart-touching activity over the last year was a car wash that raised funds for the Michigan Veterans Foundation, which helps veterans who are homeless.
"There are no words to explain how wonderful it was," Franchi said of working alongside the veterans. "It was such a rewarding feeling."
First-time pageant judge Dr. Ken Massey, a Farmington Hills city council member, said ranking the contestants was no easy feat.
"The toughest part of judging was probably separating between some of the very talented and involved youth was have," he said. "These girls are amazing."
Also competing were Emily Hunt, 17, Farmington High; Paige Campbell, 17, ; Stephaney Vietor, 15, ; Lily LaBelle, 16, Farmington High; and Molly Truitt, 18, Farmington High.
LaBelle won the Mayor's Essay award.
"This writer took a risk ... got into a topic that was more difficult for us to read, more difficult to discuss and more difficult to accept, and it's the issue and causes related to the bullying that goes on in the lesbian and gay community," Farmington Mayor Tom Buck said.
The Aldo Vagnozzi Community Service Award went to Campbell, who was described as giving her time to both school and community, and represented the community at Girls State, a leadership program sponsored by the American Legion.