New Miss Greater Rockville from family of service
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Rockville/Region - posted Mon., Feb. 18, 2013
A cascade of balloons fell from the ceiling on the stage in the Rockville High School auditorium as Gina Salvatore’s name was called. Salvatore, 19, was crowned Miss Greater Rockville 2013 at the second annual Miss Greater Rockville Scholarship Competition on Feb. 16. The scholarship organization was formed as part of the Rockville Community Alliance early in 2012.
As family, friends, well-wishers and photographers flocked around her after her crowning, the first thing Salvatore wanted to do was to send the news, via text, to her brother, who is currently serving in the military in Afghanistan. She said her personal platform – "Heart to Heart: Supporting Military Families" – is because of her brother.
“I just knew he would be so proud of me,” she said.
A Wethersfield resident and a sophomore at the University of Connecticut pursuing her BFA in acting, Salvatore performed the musical selection, “I Can’t Do It Alone,” from the musical “Chicago,” in the talent portion of the competition.
She said she felt like the pre-pageant interview portion of the competition was not her best, but that she felt an increasing sense of confidence as the rest of the pageant went on. “I just told myself that I needed to be myself, be confident, take my time and show everyone that I was confident, and I think that really showed through,” she said.
When her name was announced as the winner, she said she was excited at the unexpected honor. Salvatore had competed in other Miss Connecticut preliminaries over the past two years, but this was the first time she took home the top prize, making it something of an “at last” moment.
“I’d hoped for it,” she said. “It’s so exciting, but it’s kind of a relief, too.”
Salvatore said that she’s looking forward to reaching out to the community of Rockville/Vernon, and doing as many appearances as possible. She will compete for the title of Miss Connecticut at the state pageant in June at the Garde Arts Center in New London. Miss Connecticut 2013 will be crowned at the pageant finals on June 22.
Jeanette Porcello, a 15-year-old sophomore at South Windsor High School, won the title of Miss Greater Rockville’s Outstanding Teen. "I feel very excited, and I can’t wait to represent the Miss America organization as Miss Greater Rockville’s Outstanding Teen,” Porcello said. “I felt a mixture of emotions. I was nervous, but I felt confident. Mostly, I felt pretty good, and it worked out.”
Porcello also was ecstatic to hear her name called. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’m so excited and so blessed.”
Porcello added that she is looking forward to promoting her personal platform of helping families with autism in the community, and with the rest of the Miss Connecticut organization’s causes.
Six “Miss” contestants and four “Outstanding Teen” contestants took part in the competition. Ashley Sodipo of South Windsor was runner-up in the Miss division, and Miranda Van Allen of Bolton was the Teen runner-up. Both Salvatore and Porcello were runners-up in their respective divisions in the Miss Greater Rockville competition in 2012. Pageant organizers had hoped to award a second “Miss” crown, but by rule are only able to offer one crown per four pageant participants.
The outgoing Miss Greater Rockville, Katlyn Lewicke, served as mistress of ceremonies and helped direct the pageant.
"Our show on Saturday was the result of the hard work and constant communication between dozens of people, from the contestants to the board to the various wonderful folks who handled our production. It wound up as a smashing success - everything came together even better than I had imagined it. This is exactly what impresses me so much about the members of this community,” said Lewicke.
Lewicke will also be staying on with the Miss Greater Rockville Scholarship Organization as preparation director for Salvatore. "As for our new queen,” Lewicke said, “she is extremely well-rounded and oozing with potential. She is absolutely beautiful, open-hearted, funny, intelligent, warm and talented. I am so excited to see where her year takes her and to get her out and about within the Rockville community. I hope we can both contribute to the legacy of the Miss Greater Rockville crown.”