New dress. New location. New directors. New attitude.
When Kasandra Meehl competed in the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Pageant as Miss Perham 2004, she didn't have the mindset she has now, going as Miss Northwest 2006.
In 2004, her goal was to be Miss Perham. When she competed for Miss Northwest though, her goal was to win Miss Minnesota. A feat she'll attempt June 16 in Eden Prairie.
"My outlook is different," she said of this time.
Meehl heads to the Twin Cities area June 10-16 to participate in a Miss Minnesota-activities packed week like touring the Capitol building, going to a Twins game, participating in a golf tournament and practicing the Miss Minnesota production number.
To prepare for Miss Minnesota, Meehl has been "shopping and girly stuff like that," she said Tuesday evening, preparing for her sendoff party in the Holmes Ballroom.
She has also been working with students, Rossman Elementary especially, on her platform, Character Education.
She has attended a Miss Minnesota workshop, been interviewed monthly by Jaycees members -- who host the Northwest Water Carnival and therefore the pageant -- and made other appearances throughout the year.
A subject close to Meehl, Character Education, she said, is made up of six pillars -- trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
Standing for "terrific" -- with a few added, missing letters -- Meehl said the education will teach kids, "If I follow these six characters, I'm not only a good student, but terrific."
She said the teaching will bring the character building home too, involving parents, not just teachers.
Meehl has been a part of mentoring programs since she was in eighth grade in her hometown of Perham. She was one of the co-founders of STOP, Students Thinking of People, a program still in existence.
"There needs to be more to education," she said of incorporating character in schools. "I feel there needs to be character in classrooms. What teacher doesn't want respect?"
She added that students need to be "taught, shown, demonstrated" the six pillars.
Not only is the subject close to her as her platform, but it will be in the future as well. Meehl is in her junior year at Minnesota State University Moorhead, studying to be a math teacher. When she graduates, she hopes to come back to the lakes area as a teacher.
Her family still lives in the area, and Meehl has been leaning on them for support during her quest for Miss Minnesota. And they have been delivering. She said they quiz her on a regular basis in preparation for her interview at the Miss Minnesota pageant.
Quizzing includes her platform topic and current events. Some subjects that are "simple, but things you don't always realize," she said.
She said she feels much more prepared this time for Miss Minnesota versus when she went as Miss Perham.
Another aspect her family -- even her dad -- has been helping with is the shopping. After two and a half hours of trying on, she had a dress picked out for her evening gown. When she went back to get it, she found another one she liked, showed her dad, and he said that was the one without her even trying it on. It was blue, his favorite color.
"I hope to bring home (the crown) to Northwest because it's been a long time,"' she said.
Other area women vying for the crown are Miss Frazee Lacey Gebeke, Miss Heart of the Lakes Kathryn Knuttila and Miss Perham Danielle Refsland.
Those interested in competing in the Miss Northwest pageant can contact Kimberley Bultema at 847-3464 or Cindy Moore at 334-2321, or visit www.dlwatercarnival.com.
Tickets for the Miss Minnesota pageant can be purchased from the Eden Prairie High School Performing Arts Center box office, located at 17185 Valley View Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55346, and will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m.
For more information on Miss Minnesota and the candidates, visit www.missminnesota.org.