Preparing for Miss Teen New Hampshire

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"Miss Hampton Beach" Eyes Teen Title

By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 25, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
"Miss Hampton Beach" Leah Grondin

HAMPTON -- "Miss Hampton Beach" Leah K. Grondin wants to be Miss New Hampshire Teen USA.

The 17-year-old from Hampton will stride down the runway at the Quality Inn & Wayfarer Convention Center in Bedford during the weekend of Oct. 20-21. Grondin came in fourth-runner up in the state contest last year and decided to give it another go after she won Miss Hampton Beach in July.

Should she win the crown, she could be a contestant for Miss Teen USA.

Grondin, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinus in Dover, competes against an estimated 70 other young women. Not to show favoritism toward the hometown native, but it's hard to imagine anyone who could fit the bill of Miss New Hampshire Teen better than the petite, personable, naturally beautiful girl next door.

She also has talent, even if it's not the kind she can take on stage. She is a surfer and figure skater. Before the pageant, Grondin expects to be in Cape Hatteras, N.C., for the East Coast Surfing Championships. Her father, Kevin Grondin, is a surfing coach who spent eight years working with the U.S. team.

"I'm really excited, nervous," Leah said of the pageant. "I'm looking forward to it. On stage it's like a rush, like surfing."

The teen pageant has no talent competition, Grondin said, but judges want to know about interests, often asking questions in those areas during the interview. Contestants are also judged on their bathing suit and gown scores.

For Miss Hampton Beach, Grondin needed a one-piece bathing suit. She didn't have one, so she borrowed it from her mother, Kim. The gown was also hastily chosen. Grondin wore a brown number she had on hand that didn't exactly scream summer.

This time, for the state pageant, shopping was a big part of the process. Her strapless gown is sky blue, with small pink sequins. There's a professional two-piece suit for the interview.

Grondin does her own makeup and hair with the help of staff on hand. Beauty tricks include butt glue, to help keep the bottom part of the bikini in place.

Yet the competition is more than a pretty face.

It's costing Grondin $700 in entry fees, which means much of her time before the pageant is spent soliciting local businesses for sponsorships. Grondin has gotten sponsorships from Back to Health Chiropractic in North Hampton, Forsley & Eggleston law office in Hampton, Cinnamon Rainbows surf shop up the street from her Mill Pond Lane home, and former local beauty salon Jon Val's, which is now located in Groveland, Mass.

The money goes toward scholarships for the winners, which is among the motives for entering.

As Miss Hampton Beach, Grondin took home $500 with the title and the responsibility of representing the area. One great perk is free parking at the beach.

"I love Hampton Beach, we promote the beach," she said.

Her friends have different reactions to her entering a beauty pageant. Most think it's great, she said, once they get past their first response of, "I thought really fake girls do pageants."

Grondin is not sure about entering future pageants, such as Miss New Hampshire USA, which is taking place the same weekend in Bedford. The pageants are OK while she's in high school, she said, but she may not have time once she graduates.

"I think it's really great," said brother, Kody, 15. "She really deserves it, she works really hard."

As in, works out, watching what she eats, and practicing her public speaking skills. Her mom grills her with questions the judges might ask, such as one they pulled out last year: "Where do you see yourself in 20 years?"

Grondin said she was little floored by the question, but answers it calmly now: "I want to go to college, get a degree, work in business, have my own company. I'm kind of leaving it up to fate."

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