Role models: Mr and Miss CedarBridge crowned
Kayuntae' Ming's first year at CedarBridge Academy was a rough one, full of drama and bullying.
Kevonté Jennings-Lathan didn't put much effort into his studies.
Neither student imagined that four years later they would be wearing the school crown as Mr and Miss CedarBridge.
The 17-year-olds are were selected from 11 contestants at the Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday.
“I signed up because I wanted to show the younger students that what happens in the first year doesn't have to dictate your entire school career,” said Kayuntae'.
Kevonté, now an honour roll student, wanted to try something that was outside his comfort zone.
“I have my own dance group called Rated E with about 14 dancers,” he said. “We took part in the Christmas Parade, but I wanted to do something besides parades.”
Kayuntae' considered running the other way when she saw the thick sign-up sheet for the pageant.
“I needed a written teacher recommendation and I only had two days to get it,” she said. “I had to have a 2.5 grade point average; there was a large time commitment and there were lots and lots of rules to follow. I can't remember what they were right now, but there were lots.”
The honour student decided to ignore her qualms, and signed up. Taking part in the pageant wasn't always easy. A month of preparation went into it.
“Managing my time is one of my challenges,” said Kevonté. “I'm into a lot of different things. Sometimes when I give my time to one thing the other thing suffers.
“At first, practices were just after school, and then they were after school and at lunch. I also had my school work to keep up, so it was definitely a lesson in time management.”
The hardest thing for Kayuntae' were the questions involved. Participants were given a list of 18 and had to come prepared to answer at least one; eight finalists had to come up with replies to two.
“I'm not very good on my feet at answering questions like that,” she said. “I practised and practised and practised all my answers. But on the night I was praying I wouldn't get a hard one. Every time one of my friends got a hard one I was relieved because I knew I wouldn't get that one.”
One of her questions was how she thought extracurricular activities helped students.
“I said, basically, that it teaches students new skills and helps them to make new friends,” she said.
Participants also had to demonstrate a talent. Kevonté showed off some of his hip hop dance moves and Kayuntae' did liturgical dance.
“I started doing liturgical dance at St John AME church,” she said. “I haven't been doing it as much recently because I've been busy with my schoolwork. But for me that part was easy because I'd practised a lot. It was the only part of the pageant I didn't feel nervous about. The rest was nerve-racking.”
In another part of the pageant students had to dress up to represent their future careers.
She wore surgical scrubs and had a little girl by the hand, because she wants to be a paediatric nurse or preschool teacher.
“I love children,” said Kayuntae'. “The little girl that accompanied me was really shy so I had to encourage her through it.”
Kevonté wore a sweater to represent his chosen field of educational therapy.
“I have chosen that because I know there is a need for males in that field in Bermuda,” he said. “Maybe one day I could help young male students who are facing challenges at school.”
So far Mr and Miss CedarBridge have no designated responsibilities.
“We just want to be role models to our fellow students and ambassadors for our school,” said Kevonté.
The teenagers each received a trophy and a $200 gift certificate from CellOne.