Miss New York Reaching Youth Before Alcohol & Drugs Do

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Nearly 150 students for 11 area schools gathered for the Students Against Destructive Decisions 2014 conference at Fort William Henry in Lake George on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Miss New York 2013, Amanda Mason, was the guest speaker and worked throughout the conference to remind and motivate students to think and act to help themselves and others make positive life choices. (Derek Pruitt - dpruitt@poststar.com)

LAKE GEORGE -- Hudson Falls High school sophomore Nick Hall had difficulty with depth perception. A tennis ball he threw hit senior classmate Crystal VanNess in the head.

“I said sorry, and I meant it,” he said.

Hall’s movements were off because he was wearing a set of “drunk goggles” provided by Miss New York Amanda Mason. The glasses obscured his vision to simulate being legally drunk with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08 percent.

“It was blurry, and it was like I had four eyes,” he said.

The demonstration was one of the activities at Wednesday’s Students Against Destructive Decisions conference in the Fort William Henry Conference Center. Nearly 150 students from 11 area schools attended the event, which was organized by the Council for Prevention.

Mason said physical changes are just one side effect of drinking. The loss of inhibition and mood swings can also occur.

“What are the effects it’s going to have on you and your dream?” she asked conference participants.

Mason said her motto was D.R.E.A.M., which stands for determination, respect, evaluation, accountability and motivation.

She was determined not to let obstacles such as drugs or alcohol hinder her dream of becoming an opera singer.

It is important to have respect for yourself and others, she said.

Evaluation means analyzing a situation. She recalled an incident during her freshmen year of high school when she was at a party.

“Within five minutes, my classmates were drinking alcohol. They were smoking pot. Before I knew it, they had an entire bag of prescription drugs being passed around,” she said.

Mason left he party. She encouraged her classmates to do the same, saying it’s cool not to do drugs or alcohol.

Accountability means taking yourself and others to task, according to Mason. If students see a friend has passed out because of alcohol, they need to call 911. Don’t get in a car with a someone who is going to drink and drive, Mason added.

The final part of her motto is motivation, because sometimes people may not want to get up and go to school. She said it is important to keep a positive attitude to move closer to your dream.

Excessive drinking can kill, Mason said, citing an incident of a football player from her school who drank too much at a party.

“He was in a coma for two days and almost lost his life to alcohol poisoning,” she said.

Mason asked students about the consequences of smoking marijuana.

“Like any drug, it impacts your ability to judge,” said Skyler Heller, vice president of Hadley-Luzerne’s SADD chapter.

Mason also said people should only take drugs prescribed for them. She held up a clear plastic bag of candy, pretending it was a bag of drugs.

“If this pill could kill you, and you don’t know what it is or what the dosage is, would you give it to your friend?”

“No,” shouted the students.

Approximately 2,500 youths every day try prescription drugs for the first time, Mason said.

Students also got to paint inspirational messages on small canvasses.

This is the 11th year for the conference, according to Amanda West, prevention services coordinator for the Council for Prevention.

“The purpose is to bring students together, to be able to raise awareness, to highlight the good work students are doing in their own schools and in the community,” she said.

Hall said he enjoys being involved with SADD. His group puts up posters around the school warning of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Junior Isla McGlauflin, of Lake George, said her school has a “Grim Reaper Day,” when the SADD members pretend one of them dies about every 53 minutes to represent another victim of drunken driving.

Salem High School junior Rebecca Butler said she was inspired by Mason’s words.

“I think it’s great that she told us you can still be awesome and cool, and you don’t have to do any drugs or alcohol,” she said.

 

February 12, 2014 5:00 pm  •   MICHAEL GOOT -- mgoot@poststar.com

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Getting to know Amanda

An Opera-singing Manhattan native has hit the ground running as Miss New York 2013, ever since her predecessor became Miss America just one month ago. From fighting the drug war in schools to changing perceptions on classical music, meet Amanda Mason: 

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So, how does it feel to be the new Miss New York?

Empowering. I have the incredible opportunity to reach thousands of children across the State of New York and help each one realize they can reach their fullest potential. It’s a challenging – yet rewarding – job and one I’ve dreamed about for years. Being Miss New York means having the opportunity to educate even more kids about America’s number one public health problem: adolescent substance abuse.

You placed first runner-up to Nina Davuluri this summer at the Miss New York competition. What was your mindset after the pageant? Walk us through the experience of watching Nina win Miss America.

I was really proud of the work that I put into preparing for the Miss New York pageant and my performance on stage; particularly my preliminary wins in both the swimsuit and talent competitions. I walked away completely satisfied that I had "left it all on the stage.” I watched Miss America home in New York City with a friend, excited to see Nina compete. I was overjoyed when Nina won and realized that I was now Miss New York. I am so happy to have this incredible opportunity.  

What are you goals for your year as Miss New York? 

I look forward to representing the Miss New York Organization at various events around the state of New York. As the Youth Spokesperson for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) and Safe America and an Ambassador for Boys and Girls Clubs of America, I will focus my year on Reaching Kids before Drugs do. 

Drug and alcohol awareness is your social cause of choice. Why do you feel this is such an important topic for New Yorkers today?

By seventh grade, three quarters of students have already used alcohol. Adolescent Substance abuse is a huge, huge public health problem of epidemic proportion. That’s why, nine years ago, I started educating kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. I started the Middle School Movement: Reaching Kids Before Drugs Do, a comprehensive drug and alcohol prevention education program.

Tell us more about your Middle School Movement initiative.  What is it? What's your plan?

The Middle School Movement is unique because it’s not a simple "just say no" approach. Instead, it's based on the idea that kids need to identify their dreams and avoid behaviors, which could prevent them from reaching their fullest potential. With tools like the Safe Tomorrows workbook, which was developed in conjunction with the Safe America Foundation and support from the NCADD and other organizations, I plan to take this program into schools and Boys and Girls Clubs across the State of New York. Through early education, we can reach kids before drugs do.    

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve had the opportunity to study with renowned opera singers such as Catherine Malfitano, June Anderson and Mignon Dunn. I started singing at the age of five and today I am in my last year as a Masters Student at Manhattan School of Music studying classical voice. I look forward to sharing my talents throughout New York. I’ve studied Martial Arts and Self-defense for 5 years. I’ve also studied all genres of dancing. I love checking out new restaurants and having afternoon tea. 

What does "modern woman" mean to you?

We are smart, passionate and not afraid to be ambitious.

You seem to have pretty classic taste in style. Where does that come from?

It's important to put your best foot forward. In the opera world I learned to dress sophisticatedly while still being stylish. I think that's why I was originally attracted to opera. Opera, to me, is glamorous and living in New York I learned a lot of ways to dress up black with a modern twist. I want to show young girls that it's just as hot and fun to dress respectably. 

Many people think opera is old-fashioned. Do you think modern young women can relate to your world?

I get asked all the time, "How can an opera singer win the swimsuit competition?"  The opera world is changing.  Now with social media and HD productions, opera is more accessible to people around the world and in areas where people have never seen opera before.  Singing opera is a full mind and body experience.  Opera singers don’t just sing, we act, follow the conductor, remember staging, dance and think in other languages.  If you saw Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold at the Metropolitan Opera, it’s a prime example of the way opera is evolving today.  In one scene three sopranos were hanging from the ceiling and singing at the same time.  We are challenged to sing and move more now that ever before.  It is important for me to keep my body and voice in tune for a long lasting career.

Visit Amanda's bio to learn more. Keep up with Amanda during her year on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Amanda Mason assumes title of Miss New York 2013

Amanda heads to the TODAY show to kick off her year.

Amanda heads to the TODAY show to kick off her year.

There's a new Miss New York in town.

Yes, that's four in two years.

Mason assumed the title of Miss New York 2013 following the crowning of Nina Davuluri as Miss America 2014. 

Mason placed first runner-up at the Miss New York state competition this past July, and will spend the coming year as the official representative of the Miss New York Scholarship Organization. She will advocate her personal platform, The Middle School Movement.

Keep up with Amanda 
Follow Amanda's year live on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

 

Why bullies can't scare a Miss New York

It's no wonder that Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, is having no trouble overlooking the ignorant comments expressed by some Americans over her recent win as the first Indian-American Miss America.  She comes from a growing legacy of women who have used the Miss New York platform to combat ignorance, abuse, and bullying.  Meet the five women who, over the past four years, have worked to make New York (and the nation) a more supportive place.

Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2010

1. Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2010

Claire was the first Miss America contestant to take on LGBTQ equality as her platform. She was a regular on the political scene and a key player in encouraging New York State to pass marriage equality. Claire's work even won her the People's Choice vote during the Miss America competition. She's now a board member for PLFAG  and continues to speak at LGBTQ events across the country.

Kaitlin Monte, Miss New York 2011

2. Kaitlin Monte, Miss New York 2011

Kaitlin fought bullying head-on. She collaborated with lawmakers to reform New York State cyber bullying laws and received awards from the Anti-Defamation League for her extensive school workshop series inspired by her two siblings, both bullied for their disabilities. She's now a partner at a tech start-up, designing software to help schools tackle student behavior issues and cyber defamation through an interactive digital platform.

Mallory Hagan, Miss New York 2012

3. Mallory Hagan, New York 2012/Miss America 2013

The media tried to mess with Mallory shortly after her Miss America win with attacks aimed at her body. She set an example for women everywhere by addressing the issue head on, and then regularly tweeting photos without makeup and of her early morning workouts. Women everywhere looked to her as a role model for not letting the media define her idea of true beauty, all while advocating her platform against child sexual abuse on a national scale.

Shannon Oliver, Miss New York 2012

4. Shannon Oliver, Miss New York 2012

After assuming the state title when Mallory became Miss America, Shannon got right to work speaking in schools about breaking stereotypes to end bullying. She is a trained diversity educator and used her musical background to engage students in more than just conversation. In her personal blog, Shannon often shared stories about the reality of being Miss New York to help break stereotypes about pageantry.

Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013 and Miss America 2014

5. Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013/Miss America 2014

While some seem to be struggling to accept the first Indian-American Miss America, Nina hasn't batted an eye. This Bollywood-dancing, aspiring medical student is on a mission to promote tolerance, selecting cultural diversity as her social cause of choice. Her accomplishment represents hope for millions of Americans who seek to be seen for what they are: American. 

There she is...Nina Davuluri becomes Miss America 2014

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Miss New York 2013, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America 2014 last night at the national competition held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

This is second year in a row for New York, succeeding Mallory Hagan.

Davuluri is the first Miss America of Indian heritage. She is the first Miss America from Syracuse since Vanessa Williams. 

The native of Syracuse, NY, won a $50,000 academic scholarship and the opportunity to serve as ambassador for the Miss America Scholarship Organization for the coming year. 

"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," she said in her first news conference after winning the crown. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."

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Davuluri will promote her social platform of Diversity throughout her year. She performed a Bollywood Fusion dance as her talent during the Miss America competition.

The Miss America program recently took on STEM as it's national platform.  Davuluri is an aspiring medical student who graduated the University of Michigan with a degree in Brain Behavior and Cognitive Science.

In 2006, Davuluri placed 1st Runner Up in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen, a sister program to Miss America. She is the first former state titleholder from the Outstanding Teen program to become Miss America.

Fans can follow Nina during her year on twitter at @MissAmerica.  Media inquiries for Nina are to be directed to the Miss America Organization.

 

Send Fanmail to Nina at Miss America

Want to wish Nina luck at Miss America?  Send a letter, card or non-organic gift right to her room at the address below:

Boardwalk Hall           
2301 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Attn: Miss New York, Nina Davuluri

Make you have your name and address on the return.  All mail must be received at Boardwalk Hall no later than 12:00 pm on Friday, September 13th.  

Now for some fine print: As a security measure, all items for contestants must go through Boardwalk Hall. Nothing can be handed directly to a contestant. Contestant’s rooms, dressing room and backstage areas are restricted.  Items brought on-site must go to Boardwalk Hall & will be forwarded through the proper delivery procedure.  All packages must be properly labeled as indicated below, whether it is mailed or delivered personally. Organic packages (i.e. flowers, fruit, food) of any kind are not accepted. Such deliveries will be discarded and the attached card will be forwarded the contestant. 

Indian Designer Nikitta Varma Signs On as Sponsor

Nikitta designer Nikita Varma becomes official wardrobe sponsor for Miss New York Nina Davuluri for Miss America 2013.

Indian-American fashion designer Nikita Varma has signed on as an official wardrobe sponsor for Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013 after meeting Nina at a recent photo shoot.

Varma is originally from India and a graduate of Parson School of Design. After working for designers Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg, Varma launched her own line Nikitta in 2011 at India Fashion Week and quickly became a leading brand in the Indian fashion market.

"I saw Nina as the best possible face for my line," said Varma, who bonded with Nina over the excitement of having New York's first Indian-American representative at Miss America this year.

Varma was was impressed when Nina leaned towards more edgy styles. "I thought I'd show her something more pageanty, but I have some bold pieces and she can pull them off." 

Look for Nina in various pieces from the Nikitta collection at Miss America 2013 this September. 

Fans to sport limited edition Syracuse-themed shirts to support Nina at Miss America

SHOW US YOUR SHIRT official NY tee will fill crowd at Miss America Parade.

For the first time in nine years the Miss America Pageant returns to Atlantic City! And also returning this year is the famous Miss America "Show Us Your Shoes" Parade on the iconic Boardwalk. New York wills will don orange to support Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013, with a limited edition "Show Us Your Shirt" tee.

The limited edition shirt, which were sold throughout August on Booster, features Syracuse University's signature orange in honor of Nina's home town.  A portion of proceeds from shirt sales supported the Empire State Educational Scholarship Fund, the official scholarship provider for the Miss New York Organization.

Tickets to attend the Miss America "Show Us Your Shoes Parade" are available here for purchase. 

Krysta Prehoda named New York's Outstanding Teen 2013

Ballston Spa H.S. senior heads to national America's Outstanding Teen competition. 

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Krysta Prehoda of Malta, NY was named New York's Outstanding Teen at the 2013 Miss New York Scholarship Competition held last night at the St. George Theatre on Staten Island.

The 17 year-old Senior at Ballston Spa High School won a $1,000 scholarship and will represent her state at the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Competition in August.

Prehoda will spend the next year using her newly earned title to focusing on promoting her teen cyberbullying platform.

The first runner-up was Marisa Pierini of Wheatley Heights, NY; second runner-up was Ashley Davis of Staten Island; third runner up was Emily Oerte of Johnstown, NY.

Miss America's Outstanding Teen Organization is a sister program to the Miss America Organization. The program promotes scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement for America's teens.