Annual Pageant Lights Up Natomas

Eight young women are set to take the stage tonight for the Second Annual Miss Natomas Pageant.

The participants, who range from 6th to 12th graders, will be competing for the Miss Natomas, Jr. Miss Natomas, and two runner up titles as well as monetary scholarships. The winners’ first duties will include an appearance at the Celebrate Sacramento festival set for later this month.

“It’s a job, not just a title that you carry,” said Monica Jones, a retired peace officer and founder of the non-profit group Lights of Tomorrow which puts on the pageant.

The roots of the pageant date back to 2006 when Jones started a Sisterhood Group at Leroy F. Greene Middle School in Natomas. The group ended the first year with a celebration in the form of a fashion show. The following year, Jones escorted 30 girls to see a performance of “The Color Purple” stage play. The next year it was a visit to the courthouse and, the following year, a campus tour at Holy Names University in Oakland.

Jones started Lights of Tomorrow to empower young women ages 11 years to 24 years old and provide the know-how to transition from middle school, to high school and on to college. The non-profit group strives to reduce high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, violence, incarceration, drug use and abuse through a series of workshops presented with community partner groups.

“Monica Jones has done a wonderful job with this event, it helps the girls build confidence and improve their self esteem,” said Bruce Roberts, Natomas Unified school board president.

The Miss Natomas Pageant was started in 2009 to showcase what participants learned during the workshops held at Discovery, Natomas and Inderkum high schools. To compete, girls must also have logged a minimum 50 hours community service the year leading up to the pageant and meet grade-point requirements. The competition is open to anyone in the greater Sacramento region; this year all but one contestant lives and attends school in Natomas.

“I think what Lights of Tomorrow is doing with these young women is absolutely outstanding,” said Ryan Herche, master-of-ceremonies for this year’s pageant.

Tonight’s competition will feature formal dancing, a group performance, an interview and individual talent performances. The keynote address will be made by Vallejo City Unified School District superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop.

The Second Annual Miss Natomas Pageant will be held 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight at the Natomas High School Theater. Tickets cost $10 per person, include the pageant and dinner. Call (916) 225-5735 for more information.

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