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Erika Guzman named Miss Connell 2024

March 21, 2024

By: Katherine Trowbridge

Miss Connell 2024 Erika Guzman (center) gives a wave to the community. Pictured with Miss Connell 2024 Representatives (l-r) Miranda Garza and Vianney Martinez.

The 2024 Miss Connell Scholarship Program brought the “Colors of India” to the stage as it showcased five talented young ladies. The event brought out community support on both Friday (dress rehearsal) and Saturday evening, March 15 and 16.

The five contestants were joined on stage by the 2024 Escorts, and assisted backstage by their little sisters. Also joining them for the opening number and final moments were the 2023 Finalists and award winners, amid a backdrop of the Taj Mahal.

The program featured the fitness, talent, poise, and interview categories, as judges took note.

The program featured a lot of talent including former Miss Connell Contestants. Allie Danz (2017) with her Weapons Kata “Heart of Courage.” Danz has performed all over and is grateful for her experience with Junior Miss. McKenzie Clyde (2023 talent winner) clogged “Perm” and brought the move that may have been the highlight of the night. Sariah Hales (2023 Miss Connell) also performed her talent, a speed painting of Abraham Lincoln to “Remember Me”.

The five contestants also provided some outstanding talents to keep the crowd entertained. Miranda Garza loves baking, a skill that is part of her family's heritage, however, it’s a little hard to showcase on stage, or is it? Garza found a great way to feature baking in her vocal performance of “What Baking Can Do” that also honored her mom. Kimberly Gonzalez also honored her heritage, singing, “Paloma Negra.” Vianney Martinez honored her favorite painter with her speed painting in tribute to Frida Kahlo.

Jaqueline Guzman performed the monologue “Coat Hanger Project” showcasing the hardships of art class.

Erika Guzman rounded out the talent with her dance performance to “Know Your Worth.” She encouraged the audience to take in the words of the song.

“Jai Ho,” an audience game, and laughter rounded out the evening with Emcee’s Lauren Smith and Dave Specht leading it all.

The audience also included some royalty as Miss Spokane Valley and the newly crowned Miss Ritzville Finalists joined the final program. Also highlighted were former Miss Connell participants attending, as well as Little Miss Connell participants who eagerly await the day they can participate, as well as aspiring escorts.

Speaking of escorts - it’s hard to say who did it better but the escorts did a pretty good job in showcasing their own program complete with fitness, talent, and poise. However, Emcee Benny Duron may have stolen the show.

Despite all the fun, it was time to announce the award winners and this year’s Miss Connell. Awards were presented as follows:

The Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful award is chosen by the Miss Connell scholarship committee and is the motto of the Miss Connell program which encourages excellence by providing opportunities for growth and development of each participant. Miss Connell encourages each young woman to strive for continual improvement, and helps her to realize her individual potential. The Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful award and a $250 scholarship, sponsored by AJ and Jodi Ochoa, was presented to Kimberly Garza.

The next award is presented in loving memory of Emily Hart, a 2000 N. Franklin Jr. Miss finalist. This award sponsored by Greg and Julie Hart is presented to the contestant who demonstrates the perseverance, inspiration, and fun loving spirit that Emily embodied throughout her life. The Emily Hart Inspiration award and a $300 scholarship went to Jaqueline Guzman.

The Spirit Award reflects the respect and admiration of the recipient's peers. She is the girl who was supportive, consistently encouraging, energizing, and helping others - always with a positive attitude… The Spirit Award and a $150 scholarship, sponsored by Larry and Lorraine Bauman, goes to Jaqueline Guzman.

Each year the committee awards the Leadership Award to contestants that have shown outstanding commitment throughout her participation showing responsibility, promptness, dependability, leadership, and a positive attitude. The 2024 Leadership Award and a $250 scholarship, sponsored by the Holst Family, is presented to Miranda Garza.

The Congeniality Award goes to the contestant with a cheerful, happy, upbeat attitude towards her fellow contestants throughout the preparation of this program. The recipient was selected by her peers as the most fun to be around. The 2024 Congeniality award and a $250 scholarship, sponsored by Jon and Cathy Fox and Scott and Tamlee McGary, went to Vianney Martinez and Erika Guzman in a tie!

The SAGE (Setting a Great Example) Award, sponsored by Larry and Lorraine Bauman, is given to the contestant who has demonstrated exemplary qualities including community service, school involvement, and volunteerism. Chosen by a group of community leaders, this award was presented to Vianney Martinez, along with a $250 scholarship.

Category Awards each with a $500 scholarship were presented to: Scholastic - Jaqueline Guzman, Fitness - Erika Guzman, Poise - Kimberly Gonzalez, and Interview - Erika Guzman.

Your 2024 Miss Connell is Erika Guzman who will be joined by representatives Miranda Garza and Vianney Martinez in representing the N. Franklin Community. Without a float committee, the parents are going to take this task on for this year’s contestants - creating the “Colors of India” for all to enjoy. Helpers are appreciated. If you would like to keep the float tradition alive for generations to come contact the Jr. Miss committee.

It takes a lot of people to create such a magical night.

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