It's rather ironic that Zoey D'Arienzo, who is Miss Teen Buffalo, was never really interested in pageants.
"I was flipping through the paper one day and I saw an ad for this (the Miss Teen Buffalo) pageant, and I decided to enter," she said. "It was something I'd never done before. I like to do and try everything."
Zoey's parents had no idea she had decided to enter the pageant, and it wasn't until a week before the event that this senior at Williamsville North told them what she was up to.
Her parents were astonished, but happy. They went to see her at the pageant and little did they know that she would win.
Zoey was perhaps the most surprised of anyone.
It all came down to the final part of the pageant, which was held on Sept 28 at Rockwall Hall on the Buffalo State College campus. The 10 finalists were each handed an envelope, and though she thought the other questions were extremely difficult, Zoey was asked this question: "If you could give advice to someone your age, what would it be?" This was the question Zoey had been hoping for, and with a smile she answered, "Don't sell yourself short; try everything you can in the time you have."
That, it seems, is Zoey's philosophy about her own life.
Zoey plans to attend the University at Buffalo next year, eventually majoring in law and playing soccer for the school. She has had a lot of experience competing in sports. She has played lacrosse for the Western team in the Empire State Games and hopes one day to play for the Buffalo Phillies, a semi-professional lacrosse league. Zoey has also played with the Buffalo Women's Soccer Club on the Attack. And for both sports, she has played varsity level at Williamsville North.
Playing soccer and lacrosse has taught Zoey about the value of being on a team and the sacrifices you must make for that team.
Pageants are a different kind of experience.
Thinking back on the local pageant, she commented on the number of girls who spent hundreds, in some cases thousands, of dollars on their makeup, clothing and hair.
"Pageants are about showcasing yourself, not what others can do for you," Zoey said.
How much did Zoey spend on the pageant? She had a budget to stick to.
For the first part of the pageant, casual wear, she wore a blue business suit and carried a clipboard, to carry out the business theme she chose.
The second part was formal wear, and keeping to her budget, Zoey wore her junior prom dress.
The next step for Zoey is the Miss Teen National Pageant in Orlando, Fla., from March 20 to 25, a trip that's expensive and requires her to find sponsors.
She said she has no plans to go any further than national level, whether she wins or not.
Besides she's always trying new and different things.
Meg Glenn is a sophomore at Williamsville North High School.