RAYMOND – Marybeth Noonan, daughter of Tom and Jane Chipman Noonan of Raymond, will have plenty of stories to tell her friends at high school this fall.

The 15-year-old represented Maine in the Miss America organization’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Fla., last week.

While she didn’t win the crown, she managed to wow herself, her entourage and especially her parents with her poise and calm under intense pageant pressure.

“The experience was so amazing. It’s definitely the best experience I’ve ever had. I’m so blessed, and I really can’t get over how amazing it was,” Marybeth Noonan said Tuesday while getting ready for Wednesday’s first day back at Windham High School.

She especially enjoyed meeting the 52 other girls who participated in the pageant.

“There were so many nice girls, so friendly, so intelligent, so beautiful, so wonderful,” she said. Jane Chipman Noonan, herself a former Barbizon model and Miss Apple Blossom pageant winner for the Maine Grange system, couldn’t be more proud of her daughter.

“It’s impressive. She got more confident as the pageant went on, she just handled herself so amazingly up there on stage,” she said.

The pageant, which culminated last Saturday night, Aug. 28, was a weeklong affair with limited contact between the contestants and their parents. The Noonans only saw their daughter up on stage during evening performances and for about 20 minutes afterward.

“They’re sequestered, they don’t have access to coaches and parents,” Tom Noonan said. “They have to do their own make-up, their own hair. I thought that was probably a good idea. They’re more on their own that way.”

While alone for much of the competition, Marybeth had much support behind the scenes. Besides her parents, Marybeth’s sister, Georgia, was on hand as well as family friend Brenda Pennels of Windham. She was also accompanied by Miss America’s state of Maine director Deb Landry. Miss Maine Arikka Knights even flew down for the competition.

The contestants were judged on a variety of levels, from evening gown to interview to fitness. Even their academic record and community service were factored into their overall score.

During the talent portion of the competition, Marybeth performed “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song.” She said she picked the song because she could relate to it.

“It’s a song that I can actually relate to because I love being a girl. It reflects my personality,” she said.

Tom Noonan was especially impressed by the accomplishments of the teenagers, some of who have already been accepted to top-notch colleges such as MIT and Yale.

“You don’t worry so much about the country when you see 50 women like that,” Tom Noonan said.

Well-spent summer

Marybeth Noonan earned a place at the national competition by winning the Miss Maine Outstanding Teen Pageant on her birthday, June 19, which means the summer was spent focused on pageantry.

While she missed out on some long beach days with her friends due to the time demands, she thoroughly enjoyed the summertime adventure.

“I was a little bummed because I didn’t have much a summer, spending days with my friends at the beach, but I look back now and realize all the great things I got to do: traveling, I got to experience the pageant, so much amazing stuff and it was definitely worth it,” she said.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of winning Miss Maine and attending the Orlando pageant was meeting the other state winners. Nicknamed “The Sweet One” by her fellow contestants, Marybeth was surprised by the generosity of her fellow beauty queens and is already looking forward to a reunion at the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas in January, at which she and her fellow Outstanding Teens will perform.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing all my friends again in Vegas. But I plan to keep in touch. My roommate, Miss Texas, was such a sweetheart. Everyone was so sweet, so kind. If someone lost a shoe, everyone would try to find it,” Marybeth said.

Between now and next June, Marybeth will go on representing Maine as its Outstanding Teen. She’ll make appearances at fall fairs and hopes to continue in pageantry beyond this year.

“I got hooked on pageants after winning Miss Young Teen Maine in 2008. I actually didn’t want to do it, but ended up winning and had a great time. My goal is Miss America,” she said.

Marybeth Noonan of Raymond competed last week in the Miss America organization’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

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