North Kanata’s own Jesika Luczaj was crowned Miss Teenage Ottawa at a provincial pageant last month.
The 13-year-old, who will be the youngest contestant to head to the Miss Teenage Canada pageant, said she was in shock when the judges called out her number.
“I was honestly there just for the experience because I knew it was my first time there and I knew there would be girls who are way more experienced than I was,” she said. “Once they called out my number I was really shocked and surprised but I was happy at the same time.”
The best thing about winning a title is “you get more involved in your community,” she said, adding the crown helps her extend her reach. “I'm mostly just looking forward to more volunteering.”
Luczaj said her platform will include raising funds and volunteering with the Ottawa Humane Society.
“Canadian animal shelters have not been having enough room for all the animals; some have to be euthanized,” said Luczaj, who has a Chihuahua, toy poodle and yorkie mix named Rocky.
“I'm trying to create more fundraisers for the Ottawa Humane Society to some way help them. Instead of being euthanized (the animals) could just be adopted. I'm going to create fundraisers for it. I will be doing lots of volunteer work there.”
She said she also wants to work with Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and local elementary schools.
Luczaj first saw information for the pageant last year but she was too young to compete. This year, when entries were opened, her parents told her she should apply.
“They thought I could apply if I wanted to,” said the Grade 8 student at All Saints High School.
She filled out the forms, sent in the photos required and was selected for an interview. From there, she got the green light and was accepted to the two-day provincial pageant, held Jan. 21-22, which awards local titles.
That first day “we had practice for 10 hours,” said Luczaj. “We were learning how to dance, we had to walk in heels. We were just learning a lot of things.”
Following practice was the swimsuit competition and individual interviews with the judges. Luczaj was asked her schooling, her favourite subject and what platform she would champion if crowed. She talked about the humane society and her plans to help keep animals from being euthanized.
“It was actually kind of funny because when they were in the middle of the conversation, one of the judges just realized I was 13 and she was like ‘Wow you're mature for 13,’” she said.
The second day of the pageant Luczaj took part in a 14-hour practice, followed by the three-hour pageant that evening.
Her father Bogdan said he was so proud when Luczaj had the crown placed on her head.
“When they called her name, that was awesome,” he said. “We are looking forward to her charities. That’s what she can really open up to. I'm there all the way — I will help as much as I can, even more than that.
“It’s nice. I've been in Canada for 21 years,” he continued. “I feel like we’ve been blessed with this. It’s an awesome experience.”
Crowned Miss Teenage Ottawa 2017, Luczaj will take part in the national Miss Teenage Canada pageant, to be held Aug. 6 to 13.
“I would definitely recommend it to other people,” she said about participating in the pageant. “It lets you help out your community. Before I didn’t know anything about pageants and now I've realized it’s not just about how you're walking or how you're dancing. It’s really about what you get to do and how you help out.”
Luczaj takes over from 2016’s Miss Teenage Ottawa, who was also crowned Miss Teenage Canada, Samantha Pierre.
People are invited to follow Luczaj throughout the year on her Facebook page, facebook.com/missteenageottawa2017.