Plans for a Miss Zephyrhills High School Pageant have been canceled after some school staff members expressed opposition to the idea.
"There were some concerns from some staff," said Principal Andy Frelick. "I think it's something that could have been worked out."
Frelick would not cite the specific concerns and would not identify the staff members who were against the idea.
Tammy Gibson, a guidance counselor at the school, was organizing the event.
"Some staff member assumed certain things because of the title 'pageant,' " Gibson said. "They assumed it would be demeaning to women and they discouraged some students from participating in the pageant without knowing all of the facts or inquiring about the pageant. Because of that, we had low participation, so we decided to cancel it for this year."
The pageant was scheduled for March 2 in the activity center and was sponsored by the sophomore class. It was intended as a fundraiser for school functions.
Information about the pageant and entry requirements had been posted on the school's website. Girls would have been required to have at least a 2.0 GPA. There was a $35 entry fee.
"The mission of Miss ZHS," according to the information posted on the website, "is to positively promote our school by selecting a young lady to represent Zephyrhills High School at various schools event. The young lady should encompass all that is great about Zephyrhills High School. She should be of good academic standing, actively involved in our school and/or community and possess attributes that promote herself, Zephyrhills High School and our community."
The goal was to have a Miss ZHS this year, and to add a Mr. ZHS next year. A Little Miss ZHS pageant also was proposed.
Angela Davis, a parent of a ZHS student, was working with Gibson on the pageant to raise funds for the school.
"It's sad," Davis said. "I know how much work already went into it. It was supposed to be a good thing and something we wanted to do every year. This would be a great fundraiser."
Davis said the pageant was meant to be based on grades and personality. "She really wanted it to be laid-back so more girls would participate. She didn't want to have the huge evening gowns because she didn't want the big expense — no bathing suits. There was nothing demeaning; it was all set out to be fun, to encourage girls to step out," she said.
"All of a sudden it was done," Davis said. "It's disappointing."
Pasco High School in Dade City has had a Miss PHS Pageant for nine years. Gibson, who once worked at PHS, was familiar with the Miss PHS Pageant and had been in contact with Pasco High School math teacher and pageant organizer Missy McCurnin.
"We're showcasing the dynamics of our school," McCurnin said. "It's about the kids and it's about what they do here on the campus. You're seeing everything the school has to offer. We're showcasing what makes our school so special."
Each portion of the pageant is meant to be educational for the students that enter, McCurnin said.
McCurnin gave this synopsis of the Miss PHS Pageant: "The pre-interview is designed to teach the girls how to conduct themselves during a job interview. Casual wear and evening gown portions are meant to reflect wardrobe choices they would make to be representatives of the school. Onstage questions — one about them and one about the school — gives them an opportunity to participate in public speaking. Optional academic and talent competitions give them a chance to show their talents and abilities. The girl who is crowned is in charge of the next year's pageant. They get appreciation about timelines and deadlines."
"We've had girls that do it for the first time and win because we're looking for that girl that's going to represent Pasco High School," McCurnin said.
The school also awards a Mr. PHS title. Their part onstage is more comedy relief for entertainment, McCurnin said.
Opposition has been voiced about the pageant in the past, but McCurnin said she has shown opponents the purpose of the pageant and they have changed their minds. "I've never had a continued reaction against it," she said.
The money raised has been used for different things, including senior prom and graduate activities, McCurnin said. "The money helps classes in their fundraising if a group tells us they are in need of something. It always stays in school," she said.