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Fourteen seek title of Oyster Festival Queen

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The selection of the Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen is a long-standing tradition that dates back to 1960, the year before Urbanna Days became the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The first queen was crowned on a flatbed trailer on the day of the festival.

The tradition of crowning a Little Miss Spat along with the Queen began in 1966.

As the Oyster Festival evolved over the years, so has the selection of the Queen and Little Miss Spat. It originally was a type of beauty pageant, but is now a scholarship competition for the Queen contestants, who also must complete a community service project.

The Queen competition starts early in the summer and extends until the crowning takes place on Friday of the Oyster Festival.

The crowning of the Queen at the upcoming 52nd Urbanna Oyster Festival will take place on Friday, November 6, at 4 p.m. at Taber Park on Rappahannock Avenue. The Oyster Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, November 6-7.

The Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen Scholarship Competition awards scholarships to the top three Queen finishers and Miss Congeniality. 

The scholarships are available through the generosity of local sponsors—BB&T Bank, Bethpage Camp-Resort, Bon Se-cours Richmond Health System, Bristow-Faulkner Funeral Home, C&F Bank, Colonial Virginia Bank, Dr. Ben Lennon DDS, EVB Bank, Gloucester Pharmacy, Grey’s Point Camp, Rappahannock Concrete Corporation, Rosegill LLC, and Thurston Properties. 
The bonds for the Little Miss Spat competition are available through the generosity of Ryman’s A/C & Heating and The Pet Castle.

The Southside Sentinel is profiling two Queen contestants and their Little Miss Spat contestants each week. Each Queen contestant wrote a press release on their project and background.
As in the past, Queen contestants must be a high school senior and a resident of Middlesex County. Each Queen contestant selects a girl in the first grade to compete as her Little Miss Spat. (A “spat” is a baby oyster.) The Little Miss Spat finalists are selected independently of the Queen. 

The judges are not residents of Middlesex County.

This year’s Queen contestants, in alphabetical order, and their Little Miss Spat hopefuls include:  Lindsey Ballantyne and Natalie Cutler, Amanda Blake and Jenna Ancell, JaLisa Carter and Airiana Beverley, Sarah Daniel and Janie Allen, Susan Dunaway and Kaelyn Sibley, Cydney Fisher and RuthAnne Key, Maggie Hall and Laura Walton, Catherine Harris and Katie Brooke, Susan Heyman and Ariyana Jackson, Stephanie Hutton and Emma Gresham, Kendall McNamee and Sara Paige Murray, Libbie Randolph and Brooke Brohawn, Micah Reed and Laila Dixon, and Katherine Wood and Ellie McMinn.   Madeline Hurd also is participating as a Little Miss Spat contestant. 

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Ariyana Jackson and Susan Heyman

Susan Heyman

Susan Heyman of Urbanna is a senior at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina. For her community service project, Heyman developed and directed a four-day summer camp, “Water Week 2009,” that sought to introduce local children to the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay. Heyman programmed Water Week 2009 around water activities that had nurtured her own appreciation of the river and bay.

“The times I spent sailing and swimming as a child makes me appreciate the water today,” said Susan, 16. “I wanted to give these same opportunities to children who might not otherwise have a chance to enjoy the water.”

During two months of planning for Water Week 2009, Susan reached out to the community for support with fundraising, pool usage, fishing and sailing boats. Many Middlesex business and community leaders advised Heyman about age groups to target, water activities to program, and how to ensure that activities were safe. She was very appreciative when several businesses and individuals agreed to sponsor some of the campers and activities.

Susan’s initial plans for Water Week 2009 were to take the children (ages 8-12) kayaking, sailing, tubing, swimming and fishing. She discarded the idea of kayaking, however, after many said it would be too difficult and expensive to take a large, inexperienced group kayaking. Instead, she settled on a day at the Deltaville Pool to hold a swim test so she would know which children she might need to closely monitor during the week.

On the first day of camp, lifeguard Allyson Eades conducted the swim test for small groups of kids while others tie-dyed their “water week” camp shirts. After the test, campers played at the pool while getting to know each other.

After the Monday “day at the pool,” Ken Schmalenberger with Norton Yacht Sales took the campers sailing with Susan on Tuesday. For many of the kids this was the first opportunity they had to experience the river on a sailboat. 

On Wednesday, Susan took the children fishing after finding the perfect boat and captain, Capt. Berend Tyson. Tyson, a charter boat captain out of Snug Harbor in Deltaville, agreed to take the campers out on his boat, “Patty Lee II.” Everyone caught fish and Captain Tyson packed fish for kids to take home for dinner! 

For Thursday’s activities, Susan took her kids to Wake Beach for a day of swimming and tubing. This was a big accomplishment for some of the children who had never been tubing or riding or out on a raft so far from shore. 

“I had so much fun organizing Water Week 2009,” Susan said. “I don’t know who learned more, me or the kids.”

In the end, Susan received enough money from sponsors to cover the expenses for the boats, food, and campers who needed it, and also donate funds to the YMCA Guardian Program. “I am really looking forward to doing this again next year!” she said.

Throughout high school, Susan has shown interest in community service. Over the past two summers she volunteered at Middlesex YMCA and Ware Academy summer camps. In the classroom, she has taken several honors and AP courses and has a 4.2 GPA.

Susan also has been very active in high school athletics. She was voted Most Valuable Runner as a high school freshman, has been a starting player on several varsity teams since her freshman year, and has played at least one varsity sport, including basketball, cross-country, soccer and lacrosse, every semester. Susan has received Athlete of the Year for her grade each of the last three years. For her positive attitude, she won the 2007 Coach’s Award in cross-country, and this past spring she was named to the North Carolina Independent Schools All-State lacrosse team. In addition to high school athletics, Susan recently ran her first marathon, which she finished in less than four hours.

After high school, Susan plans to attend college and study kinesiology or sports management.

Susan is the daughter of Joseph Heyman and Martha Heric of Urbanna, and the sister of Scott (Virginia Tech) and Kelly (Columbia University graduate school).

Susan’s Little Miss Spat is Ariyana Jackson, a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary. Ariyana is the granddaughter of Antoinette Jackson. Ariyana never meets a stranger and loves to play with her friends. She also has a love for climbing trees and the pool. Her favorite things to do in her free time are to enjoy the outdoors and ride her bike.

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Laila Dixon and Micah Reed

Micah Reed

Micah Reed is a senior at Middlesex High and the daughter of Kim Reed-Bagby of Middlesex and Craig Corbin of Hampton.

As her community service project, Micah partnered with Make-A-Way & Deliverance Full Gospel Baptist Church and held a youth camp. “I remember how much fun it was to be a camp attendee, and I thought it would be a very good way to give back to the community,” she said.

The camp was held July 27-30 and all youth ages 4 to 17 were invited to attend.

With such a wide range of ages, Micah decided to break the kids up into four different age groups. Each group had one or more teachers, came up with a group name, and did fun activities.

There were prizes awarded every evening. Each evening had its own theme, and camp attendees were asked to dress up for the theme. The attendees voted for who they believed dressed the best for that evening’s theme, and whoever received the most votes was awarded the prize.

Micah also awarded prizes to attendees who could answer questions about what they learned that evening at camp.

“The camp wasn’t just for the youth,” Micah said. “I wanted the attendees’ parents and other family members to be involved as well.”

On the final day of camp, the attendees’ parents and other family members were invited to come and join the fun. The attendees got to present to their families and other camp members what they learned and did at camp. “While watching the kids do their presentations I felt very proud and honored that I was a part of the camp,” said Micah. “I couldn’t have picked a better project.”

Micah said the youth camp was a huge success and felt that everyone involved had a great time.

However, the camp was not Micah’s first display of philanthropy. Throughout her high school career she has been involved in many clubs that give back to the community. During Micah’s 2008-09 school year, she was an officer in Middlesex High’s Key Club (secretary), Student Government Association (secretary), and DECA (president). She was a member of Middlesex High Chapter of the Building Black Achievers Mentoring Program, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and was inducted into the National Honor Society this past spring. Micah also was junior class president, and assisted in time and scorekeeping for the Middlesex Youth Basketball League games.

She plans on being involved in the same clubs this coming year, but with a few changes in her responsibilities in one of them. Micah will once again be the secretary of the Key Club, but she will also be a co-president of the Student Government Association along with her fellow classmate and Festival Queen contestant Cydney Fisher.

Along with being involved in many clubs, Micah also is very active in Middlesex High sports. She was a varsity fall cheerleader, co-captain for the varsity Lady Chargers basketball team, and a member of the Lady Chargers track and field team. She made the All-Academic Team and 2nd Team All-District for her good grades and efforts during basketball season. Micah also was one of five girls to qualify and compete in the state track meet. She received the Most Spirited award for cheerleading and the Co-MVP Award for track and field.

This fall she has been chosen to be a co-captain for the varsity fall cheerleading squad and will again be a captain for the Lady Chargers basketball team.

Micah maintained a 3.8 GPA or higher last school year, allowing her to keep a spot on the Superintendent’s Honor Roll. She hopes to have the same outstanding academic year this year, and she would like to attend Christopher Newport University.

Micah is currently employed at Hillside Cinema in Gloucester.

Her Little Miss Spat Contestant is Laila Dixon, a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School. Laila is the daughter of Everett Dixon and Kenyon Whiters of Saluda. Laila enjoys playing outside, spending time with her friends, and just having fun. 

posted 10.07.2009

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