North Attleborough teen plans return to national pageant

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Melissa Sapini of North Attleborough made it to the top 15 of the Miss Massachusetts Teen USA pageant, and said the experience offered a lot of lessons. Courtesy photo

By Max Bowen

Melissa Sapini said her time in the Miss Massachusetts Teen USA pageant was a rewarding experience, and she hopes to take part in it again next year.

Sapini, a junior at North Attleborough High School, qualified for the top 15 of the competition, which took place on Jan. 11 and 12. However, she was not chosen for the top five. She doesn’t look on this as a defeat, recalling all the friends she made.

I was really happy, to be honest,” she said. “I was very happy and so excited for all the other girls.”

Initially, Sapini didn’t plan to try out for the pageant again, citing her workload as a student and involvement in a number of extracurricular activities. But after the pageant, she was approached by a young woman wearing a Miss Rhode Island sash, indicating she had won that state’s competition. What she said to Sapini changed everything.

She told me I had time and ‘I saw something of me in you and I want to see you on that stage next year,’” said Sapini. “She changed my perspective and I think I want to go back next year.”

This was Sapini’s first time taking part in a pageant. She had heard of the competition watching Miss Universe, and while researching the one for her age group, was contacted by the organizers of Miss Teen USA. She said the other contestants were very supportive of each other, something she didn’t expect. In TV shows and movies about these types of competitions, the women are sometimes portrayed as petty and ruthlessly competitive.

Everyone was so nice at rehearsals and you hear their stories—you’re not who I thought you were going to be,” she said of the other contestants.

Sapini’s purchased a dress from a store in the Emerald Square Mall with money she raised, choosing a blue ball gown. But at the pageant, she was surprised by what the other contestants wore.

On stage I really stuck out because I had this huge dress,” she said with a laugh. “Cinderella was what everyone said, I love it.”

Part of the pageant consisted of an interview portion, and Sapini was asked what wish she would grant if she were a genie. Her answer—whatever her mother would want.

“Anything she would want to come true, I would want too,” she said.

When the time came to announce the top 15, Sapini said it took a few seconds to realize that her number had been chosen. She was focused on her friends and family in the audience, and as she walked on stage, was surprised to see her track coach among them.

“Everyone just stopped,” she said. “I remember going down and smiling and looking at the judges and it was one of the best feelings ever, I have to say.”

Though she considers herself a social person, Sapini said the experience helped her to grow a lot in that regard. She also learned a lot of appreciation for those that supported her in the pageant, and the importance of supporting others in their goals. All of this will likely be in her mind when she tries out for next year’s Miss Teen Massachusetts pageant.

I’m not a quitter and I can’t quit on this,” said Sapini. “I need to keep going.”