Miss Greater Rockville's Outstanding Teen for 2013 is Jeanette Porcello

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Mar. 29, 2013
Connecticut Miss Greater Rockville Jeanette Porcello
Jeanette Porcello is all smiles as she is crowned Miss Greater Rockville's Outstanding Teen. Photo by Steve Smith.

Scholarship, success, service and style - these four attributes are key to the Miss America scholarship organization and they are what judges looked for in candidates for the second annual Miss Greater Rockville Pageant, held earlier this year. They found them in South Windsor resident Jeanette Porcello, who won the "Outstanding Teen" competition at Rockville High School that was sponsored by the Rockville Community Alliance.

The competition began with the introduction of the contestants. “It was kind of like an opening number,” Porcello said. “What counts is how you appear overall to the judges.”

Contestants were judged in four different categories. First, they appeared in their evening gowns to demonstrate poise, posture and elegance. Next, they gave a performance for their chosen talent. For this, Porcello sang and played on the piano “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton.

Next, contestants participated in an onstage interview, in which judges asked them about event and social issues and talked to them about their personal community service platforms. “You have to show that you don't get nervous and are able to speak in front of a large crowd and put your thoughts into words,” said Porcello.

The last category was fitness wear. “For the younger contestants, the division that I'm in, you wear running attire to show you have confidence and that you have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

Porcello's service platform is her dedication to Autism Families CONNECTicut: Connecticut Families and Children on the Autism Spectrum. “It's all about providing recreational programming for these children, which I volunteer with a lot,” she said. For the past four years she has worked with this organization.

Her cousin, Jack, was diagnosed with autism at a young age. “When he got diagnosed with autism, my aunt started realizing how much these kids need activities during the weekend,” she said. “They'd have activities at school, but during the weekend families would not know what to do and they'd be confined to their homes because there weren't many programs for children on the autism spectrum.”

Her aunt founded Autism Families CONNECTicut, which has programs in many locations in the state, including Tolland and South Windsor. Porcello volunteers for swimming sessions at the Star Hill Family Athletic Center in Tolland, where she is partnered with an autistic child for pool activities.

“I'm also involved in music therapy, because I have a passion for music and play several instruments,” she said. She will play her guitar for the children, who enjoy the music and are calmed by it. “I love being able to share that connection of music with these children on the autism spectrum. I've always loved how much music can impact different people and how much it can calm them down and soothe them and make them feel comfortable in their environment.”

Her brother founded a walking program for autistic children where volunteers walk with a partner around the Tolland "bubble" at the athletic center. While participating in this program, Porcello has befriended a girl nearly her age who at first was quiet and reserved, and later opened up and connected with her.

“I definitely love working with these children, and it's something I'm very passionate about,” Porcello said.

At the age of 15, Porcello is a sophomore at South Windsor High School. She is an honor student, secretary of the sophomore class, a member of the school's cross-country and track teams, a member of Choral Spectrum and jazz ensemble, and has been involved in Model UN. She plays the piano, the guitar and the trombone, and sings. In 2012, she was a recipient of the prestigious Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership award.

Going forward, she will compete with 23 other girls for the title of Miss Connecticut's Outstanding Teen. A pageant at the Garde Arts Center in New London will be held June 20 to 22. While the competition will include all four categories that the Greater Rockville pageant included, it will also have academics, in which the girls' transcripts will be an important factor. “I'm really excited for that,” she said. “It's stressful, but it's going to be a very fun time.”

Anyone interested in helping to sponsor Porcello can contact Terri Rodgers of the Rockville Community Alliance at 857-222-8649.

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