Extending their 53-year partnership, the Miss Missouri scholarship organization has signed a three-year contract to utilize facilities at Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri, to host their annual competition.
MMA helps sponsor the Miss Missouri pageant each year via a special facilities rental rate that enables the Miss Missouri scholarship organization to conduct an orientation on campus in April and conduct the scholarship pageant on campus for a week in June.
“We are very grateful to MMA for their support through the years,” said Miss Missouri Executive Director Alice Leonatti.
The Miss Missouri organization has held the competition at MMA since the organization was incorporated. Prior to that point, local Jaycees ran the competition. Longtime Academy President Colonel Charles R. Stribling III was a Jaycee.
“COL Stribling was very involved in the original set-up and getting MMA involved,” said Leonatti. “He was a loyal supporter in word and action and financially to Miss Missouri, and the Stribling Foundation still makes scholarship donations (to the Miss Missouri organization).”
The Stribling Foundation also supports scholarships for MMA cadets.
“Missouri Military Academy and the Miss Missouri organization hold similar missions, developing leadership abilities and helping young people fulfill their full potential,” Geraci said. “The Miss Missouri organization holds significant value for the young women who compete, as well as economic value for the Mexico community. We are proud to support Miss Missouri every year and look forward to our continued partnership.”
Miss Missouri contestants stay in the Academy’s residential facilities, practice on campus and compete in formal shows in MMA’s Centennial Gymtorium. Miss Missouri Teen contestants stay in local hotels with their families. The competition brings tourism dollars to Mexico and the surrounding community each year through the contestants, their families and supporters who arrive to attend the competitions.
According to Leonatti, MMA’s campus provides an ideal set-up for the competition.
“The fact that we can have the women living on campus and walking a few steps to the shows is wonderfully convenient,” she said. “We consider MMA home for that week, and so do the girls.”
Leonatti added that other states’ competitions are most often held at theaters or other locations without on-site housing for contestants.
Hayley Leach, Miss Missouri 2023, visited the MMA campus in August to thank Academy President Brigadier General Richard V. Geraci, USA (Ret), for MMA’s support.
“MMA graciously allows the Miss Missouri competition to be held at their facilities each June,” said Leach. “Women from all over Missouri stay on campus for an entire week. The young women stay in the dorms and learn about MMA during their visit. We all greatly appreciate the support for MMA and the community in Mexico.”
President Geraci presented Miss Leach with an MMA presidential coin for excellence to recognize the Academy’s valued partnership with the organization and her achievement of being crowned Miss Missouri.
“Miss Leach is a very impressive young woman, an excellent role model,” Geraci said. “We are proud to have Miss Leach visit our campus to learn about the education we offer young men and for other young women such as Miss Leach to interact with our cadets to develop strong social etiquette skills.”
Miss Missouri Outstanding Teen pageant contenders are special guests at MMA’s Valentine Ball each year, escorted by selected MMA cadet leaders.
“These girls have a lot of leadership potential and are involved in so many things,” said Tori Webber, an MMA commandant staff member and Miss Missouri Board of Directors member. “Attending the Valentine Ball, it’s good to see the cadets’ interaction with these smart and talented young women who are passionate about what they are doing.”
A longtime volunteer for the organization, Webber serves as the “dorm mom” during Miss Missouri week in the summer, living in the MMA campus residence halls with the scholarship contenders and helping to oversee them.
“MMA has such a beautiful campus — Miss Missouri is fortunate to be able to use their facilities,” Webber said.