July 20, 2004 – St. Croix's Shantel Shoy was crowned Miss V.I. Pride in an original pageant held at St. Croix Education Complex on Sunday night. The event challenged the eight contestants, ages 15-19, to showcase their intelligence while promoting positive aspects of the Virgin Islands. Prizes included thousands of dollars in scholarship packages.
Shoy, 19, a student at the University of the Virgin Islands, received $3,000 in scholarship money, a trip to St. Lucia and jewelry.
Janeisha John, 16, a senior at Education Complex, was named first runnerup. She received a $1,500 scholarship package and a trip to St. Martin.
Reyneé Clark, 15, an 11th grade student at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, was the second runnerup; she received a $1,000 scholarship package and a gift basket.
Bernesha Liburd, 17, a senior at Charlotte Amalie High School, was the third runnerup; she received $750 in scholarship funds and a gift basket.
Also participating in the pageant were Kristin Coates, 16, a senior at Central High School; Kareema Gaskin, 18, a Central High graduate; Sheba Jno-Baptist, 19, a graduate of Eudora Kean; and Gail Maduro, 16, a CAHS senior.
The fast-paced competition began with a hot-tempo production number. Dressed in lime green outfits, the contestants performed intricate dance moves to a medley of Latin, pop and calypso tunes and introduced themselves.
In the swimsuit competition, fire dancer Corey Davis of St. Thomas twirled flaming batons and the contestants, all clad in red, one-piece swimsuits, posed together, then each showed her modeling skills.
The highlight of the night was the talent segment. Contestants used their imagination, intellect and knowledge of the Virgin Islands to deliver speeches aimed at marketing the islands. They conveyed what V.I. pride means to them by highlighting the beauty, history, culture and significant people who have had an impact on the development of the islands. The segment offered a unique teen perspective on life in the Virgin Islands.
"Today's action determines tomorrow's success," Shoy told the audience. She spoke as an advocate for an efficient, educated work force and a fiscally prudent government. "The key ingredient is action," she said.
Clark said the Virgin Islands embraces other languages and cultures while preserving its own. St. Croix has "invaluable architecture, sugar mills and industrial potential," she said, while St. Thomas's treasures include the castles of Bluebeard and Blackbeard.
"St. Croix cruise ship homeporting will create a domino effect to existing businesses," Liburd said. She advocated the preservation of St. John and suggested that Water Island be turned into a water park. She said the territory lacks "opportunities for youth" and urged her peers to "get a trade and embrace your God-given talent."
The traditional evening gown segment was presented with a twist all of the candidates were onstage at once, and each paraded to techno-style music.
Serving as mistress and master of ceremonies for the competition were a former Miss Virgin Islands, Merlissa George, and television personality Darren "Bogle" Stevens.
The contest is the brainchild of 23-year-old Jamal Drummond, who is currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in fashion design in Atlanta. "The idea to do the show came to me in May, just after I came home for summer vacation," Drummond said.
In just a few weeks Drummond and a few friends — Cory Davis, Sherine White and Aisha Parrilla, all under the age of 25 — planned and carried off the first Miss V.I. Pride pageant.
Drummond says young women need to concentrate more on education than on physical beauty, and they need to embrace their culture and heritage. "Most girls have large brains; it's not all about beauty," he said. "We need to take pride in our history and culture and bring it back home to the Virgin Islands."
Drummond wants the new Miss V.I. Pride to take those messages into the schools. "I want to plan a back-to-school event for the kids," he said. "And during the year, Shantel will visit the schools and talk to the children about national pride, culture and heritage."
As for himself, "I have plans," Drummond said. "I really want to do something different for St. Croix."
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