TEMPERANCE — Nine-year-old Laci MacQuisten had a ready answer earlier this month when a contest judge in Dearborn, Mich., asked her what she would do if she suddenly came into a lot of money.
“I said that if I had the money, I would use it to keep my school open,” she said. “I loved my school. If I had a lot of money, I would save it.”
Her school was Temperance Road Elementary, where Laci finished third grade before it closed June 7, a victim of the Bedford Public Schools' falling enrollment and weak finances. She’ll attend Monroe Road Elementary during the 2013-14 school year.
For Laci, the closing was a significant event in her young life, one that has stayed with her. She said that's why she gave her extemporaneous answer to the question, which came during one of six interviews she had with judges at the National American Miss Junior Preteen competition July 4-6 in Michigan.
In the contest, she gave a good account of herself, winning first place in the actress competition and taking home a large trophy and a $250 prize. The feat qualifies her for the national pageant in Anaheim, Calif., in November, which her family plans to attend.
In Dearborn, her age group had 140 competitors.
Laci also won the Outstanding Participation Award and picked up the Spirit of America Award for two tap-dance performances, her casual-wear modeling, and her photos of herself.
Laci’s mother, Judy MacQuisten, emphasized that the pageant was not a beauty contest. Contestants wore no makeup or inappropriate clothes.
“It’s a pageant experience that allows girls to build poise, self-confidence, and communication skills,” she explained. “There is no swimsuit competition.”
The girls were judged by an introduction to the judges and audience, a private interviews with the half-dozen judges, and in performing talent, Mrs. Macquisten said.
In the acting contest, Laci did a mock commercial for a favorite treat, Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape. It took first place.
“I loved it,” the girl said of the event. “It was a challenge, but it was fun because I got to meet new people.”
Her mother said another reason her daughter enjoyed the Dearborn event was because “she likes to be in front of an audience.”