STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Island sure made its presence known at the 55th annual Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageant, a spectacular production that culminated with the crowning of four local young women on the stage of On Your Mark in Tompkinsville.
Taking honors Sunday at the sparkly presentation themed “The Best of Times is Now” — a number that served as the pageant opener and as a tribute to the late James J. Smith, the late longtime pageant executive director — were Tatiana Santos Mroczek, Miss Staten Island 2022, and Catherine Costagliola, Miss Richmond County 2022, who were both awarded $1,000 scholarships.
Interestingly, Mroczek was crowned in the same gold evening gown worn by her mother, Dr. Gracelyn Santos, when she herself was crowned Miss Staten Island 1990 at the former Williamson Theatre at the College of Staten Island. “It’s a beautiful, vintage dress that has brought me good luck,” Tatiana gushed in speaking of her win.
Also crowned were Amelia Gordon, Miss Staten Island’s Outstanding Teen 2022, and Hayley Bond, Miss Richmond County Outstanding Teen 2022, who received $500 scholarships. First runner for Miss Staten Island/Miss Richmond County is Isma Kielty. First runner for Miss Staten Island Outstanding Teen/Miss Richmond County Outstanding Teen, is Madison Burkhart.
Smith, a co-founder of the Miss Staten Island Pageant, was lauded during a video presentation that showcased photos of the longtime executive director inclusive of titleholders, several of which held the title of Miss America.
A number of former contestants recounted fond memories of time spent with Smith, a mentor whose perceptiveness was uncanny and whose unwavering dedication to the Miss Staten Island Pageant is unparalleled.
COMMENTS FROM WINNERS
Tatiana Santos Mroczek, Miss Staten Island 2022: “I’m beyond grateful for the Miss Staten Island 2022 title, especially on the first anniversary — to the day— of losing my grandfather to cancer,” said Mroczek. “I am excited to promote my social platform initiative, “Music Heals: The Power of Music Therapy,” especially in light of this horrible pandemic, the mental health crisis it has created, and the Staten Island families who have lost loved ones, including our pageant’s beloved executive director, Jim Smith.”
Catherine Costagliola, Miss Richmond County 2022: “I am looking to serving the Staten Island community and advocating for my Social Impact: Advocating Mental Health Awareness. I am inspired by this community and would love to work with the various organizations. I want to thank the Miss Staten Island Organization for all of their support.”
Amelia Gordon, Miss Staten Island Outstanding Teen 2022: “My first reaction was total surprise! I’ve competed a few times and this was the first time I won a title. I look forward to engaging with the people of Staten Island, both to spread my message about Autism Awareness and the Miss Staten Island Organization”
Hayley Bond, Miss Richmond County Outstanding Teen 2022: “I was so shocked to hear my name called, knowing I would join a sisterhood. It’s such a honor winning the title of Miss Richmond County’s Outstanding Teen. I look forward to getting to know my community better and to grow my Social Impact Initiative of Mental Health Awareness.
The Fashion Forward Scholarship went to Angelica Millan
The Advocate for the Disadvantaged, Heather Lawrence
Advocate for Change, Maeve Quinn
Promoting Medical Research, Madison Burkhart
Make a Difference, Hayley Bond
Champion for Those With Special Needs, Carina Sosa
Fostering the Gift of Kindness, Nadia Anwar
Excellence in Dance Performance, Isma Kielty
Champion for Arts in Education, Samantha Rosenberg
Excellence in Musical Theater Performance, Tatiana Santos Mroczek
Star of Tomorrow, Amelia Gordon
American Pride, Catherine Costagliola
The Madison L’Insalata Scholarship award in Memory of Jim Smith, Ashley Lawrence
Miss Congeniality, Carina Sosa
The new titleholders will now advance and compete for the title of Miss New York in the spring. The winner on the state level will represent the Empire State in the legendary Miss America Pageant.
The local pageant, a stepping stone on the road that leads to the Miss America competition, affords young women between 18 and 26 an opportunity to earn academic and community-based scholarships for college and graduate school. Their participation helps them carve a niche in the Miss America Organization — historically, one of our nation’s greatest educational opportunities for young women.
The Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program, a division of The Miss America Organization, is open to young women 13 to 18.
Kristina Ferrara, a former Miss Staten Island and owner of Rhythm Central Dance Studio, Meiers Corners, was production director and choreographer.
Jamie Lynn Macchia, Miss New York 2015, served as mistress of ceremonies and was assisted by Stephanie Arcardo, a former Miss Richmond County, and several other titleholders.
Madison L’Insalata, the reigning Miss Staten Island, performed the national anthem and crowned the new Miss Staten Island.
Alexa Nicole Moley, Miss Richmond County, Angelica Santos Mroczek, Miss Staten Island Outstanding Teen, and Victoria Montouri, Miss Richmond County Outstanding Teen, assisted in the crowning ceremony.
Ivette Alicea filled the role as Judge’s Chair and Julianna Meyer was the journal coordinator for the competition.
Originating in 1921 as a “bathing beauty revue”, the Miss America contest is now judged on competitors’ talent performances and interviews. As of 2018, there is no longer a swimsuit portion to the contest, or consideration of physical appearance.
The Miss America competition was initiated as part of an elaborate public event staged by Atlantic City businessmen to extend the summer tourist season. It has evolved into an American tradition. In 1945, the organization began supporting women’s education by offering its first scholarship. Today, the Miss America Organization is one of the nation’s leading achievement programs and the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Each year, the Miss America Organization makes available more than $45 million in cash and scholarships.
Five Staten Islanders have held the title of Miss New York: Kari Pedersen Cynar in 1967; Lezley Braun in 1977; Alice Knisely in 1987; Deana Herrera Walker in 1998 and Jamie Lynn Macchia in 2015.