Giammarco’s plans to use her title to spread word of her Defy the Odds anti-bullying campaign.
National Miss Junior Teen Shows Another Side to Pageantry
MIDDLETOWN - A Middletown teen with a national pageant title to her name is making it known that being a pageant queen isn’t all about looks.
Mercy High School sophomore Savannah Giammarco, 14, was crowned the National All-American Miss Junior Teen Nov. 25, over 86 girls ages 13-16. From the first time she watched a pageant at age seven, she knew she wanted to compete. That led to a Connecticut pre-teen title in 2008 and advancing to national competitions.
Giammarco was the third runner-up at the All-American Miss Junior Teen competition last year. This year she once again made the cut when the judges narrowed down the field of 86 to 10, then five, before finally crowning her the winner.
“It’s nerve-racking because the girls definitely bring their A-game,” Giammarco said. “Usually there’s a handful of strong girls at the state level and then there are new girls learning the ropes…At the national level everybody is strong.”
While Giammarco and her mother and coach, Sandy, put a lot of preparation into the pageants--going over speeches, getting the gown ready, etc.--she said the most important part of competition is something you can’t rehearse.
“It’s all about being yourself,” she said.
With her new title as a platform, Giammarco hopes to spread that sentiment to teens nationwide.
“I’m going to attend the National All-American Miss summer tour and visit all the states and talk with girls, implementing anti-bullying campaigns,” she said.
Also on the agenda is spreading word of her Defy the Odds campaign, which teaches teens about “overcoming your circumstances and what you think is possible, because if you can do that, you are the ‘bomb-diggity’ as I like to say,” she said.
Giammarco said Defy the Odds is near and dear to her heart because she herself was bullied. Through the campaign, girls will write their own mission statement.
Being a national pageant queen isn’t all duty and no glamour, though. After winning the title, Giammarco and a few friends had the opportunity to travel to California, visit Disney and go on a Hollywood tour.
As far as future pageants, Giammarco is on the fence.
“Competing as an adult is a lot more responsibility; I don’t want to do it half way,” she said. Plus, she already has a full schedule, being an avid horseback rider and working with a Grammy-nominated music producer Shawn Campbell on a budding singing career.
Plus, Sandy Giammarco could probably also use a break.
“I keep telling her, ‘Every pageant you do is taking years off my life,’” she said with a laugh.
“We couldn’t be happier and prouder,” she said of her daughter, who is showing the world there is another side of pageantry than the stereotypical ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ image that comes to mind. “This one is based on academics and not just how you look.”