Wellsboro, Pa. -- Jocelyn Renninger, a June graduate of Central Mountain High School in Mill Hall, was crowned the 2021 Pennsylvania State Laurel Queen during the Saturday, June 19 coronation. She was awarded a $1,500 educational scholarship.
The coronation ceremony was held Saturday evening in the Coolidge Theatre at the Deane Center for the Performing Arts in Wellsboro.
First runner-up Miss Williamsport Alayna Dake was awarded a $750 scholarship and second runner-up Miss Saegertown Amber Costello, a $500 scholarship. Miss Williamsport was also named Miss Congeniality by vote of the other queen candidates and awarded a $250 scholarship.
The Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, through the Wellsboro Foundation, sends the scholarship funds directly to the college each young lady attends to help pay tuition.
Laurel Queen judges included David Cohick, judge coordinator and the director of Tioga County Emergency Services in Wellsboro; Renata Stiehl, WENY-TV news director and anchor in Horseheads, N.Y.; and Jacob Michaels with 93.3 WBZD-FM, Muncy.
“I was surprised to be selected as one of the 10 semi-finalists,” said the newly crowned Laurel Queen. “I didn’t think I was going to be queen because the girls were all great candidates. I was very surprised when I was chosen.” She is the daughter of Diane and James Renninger of Dunnstable Township, near Lock Haven.
The semi-finalists were each asked one question during the program. Asked about year-round schooling, Miss Renninger said she felt it was a good idea because it would decrease education costs, teachers taking time off and students’ loss of knowledge.
“We did a lot of different things in two days. We got to explore the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon on Friday, which was awesome and the parade on Saturday was super fun. It was packed with a lot of people, which showed a great sense of community," said Renninger.
"Most fun for me was hanging out with all of the other queen candidates," she added. "We made lots of memories and had lots of laughs throughout the weekend. It was a great experience with a great group of girls and I was honored to participate.”
Asked what she would be doing this summer, Renninger said, “I will be attending Penn State University in State College. I am moving into the dorms on June 28. June 30 will be my first day of classes. I decided to go for the summer to get acclimated to college life." She is majoring in special education and plans to be a secondary special education teacher.
All four years of high school, Renninger was on high honor roll, was a member of her school’s soccer team, captain as a senior, was a track team member and pole vaulted for three years and was a four-year section leader and sang soprano in the school chorus. For three years, she volunteered at the Special Olympics and Kent's Fest. She was a member of the National Honor Society as a junior and senior and on the homecoming court and a Black Lives Matter Club member as a senior.
First Runner-Up & Miss Congeniality
“I am so grateful. I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be named first runner-up and Miss Congeniality,” said Miss Dake who represented Williamsport Area High School. Dake is the daughter of Elizabeth Dake-Threeton of Montoursville and Michael Dake of Lafayette, Louisiana.
“I didn't think I was going to win anything. I was just trying to have fun and make some friends. Being chosen Miss Congeniality was a big honor because the other girls voted for me.”
“All of us were really nervous. I am so grateful to the judges. They were so welcoming and made us feel comfortable even though it was a competition. At the dinner, right before the coronation program, one of the judges came over to our table because they heard how nervous and worried I was about answering a question on stage. The judge said, ‘There is no set answer to any question that you need to provide. We are trying to find out who you are.’ I am so grateful that we had people who understood that it was stressful for us and just wanted us to have fun and not feel pressured on stage or during interviews. They actually did want to get to know us and cared about each and everyone of us,” Dake said.
“I won’t be working this summer. I am planning to get a job in State College this fall,” said Dake. She will move to the Pennsylvania State University campus in late August and start classes soon after. “I am majoring in art education to become an art teacher,” she said.
“I definitely want to stay in touch with everyone I’ve met this weekend because we clicked so well,” she said.
As a semi-finalist, Dake answered a question about if it was better for patients to be diagnosed virtually through a live video consultation. “This option allows patients to be more comfortable seeking help for any needs they may have,” she said.
All four years of high school, Dake was a varsity cheerleader. As a junior and senior, she was a member of the National Honor Society, the Student Government Association and the Class of 2021 Executive Board and, as a freshman and sophomore served as Class of 2021 vice president and was a member of several school clubs, such as the Peace Corps Club, Mini-Thon Club and Key Club. Her hobbies include cheerleading, painting, and yoga.
“What I liked best about the weekend was hanging out with the other girls. They were super helpful and nice,” said Costello who represented Saegertown Junior-Senior High School. Costello is the daughter of Melissa and Michael Costello of Hayfield Township.
“This is the first time my school has been represented at the Laurel Festival so I was really surprised to be chosen as a semi-finalist and then as second runner-up. I have never been to this area before. I liked visiting the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.”
As a semi-finalist, Miss Costello was asked if she felt texting hurt communication skills? Her answer was “yes.” During the pandemic, people were at home and “texting became an easy way to communicate with family and friends. Now that everything has opened back up, people are able to see others face-to-face, which feels like a whole new experience.” She added that “when people have no physical socialization, it makes it extremely difficult to hold conversations or to speak publicly.”
Costello said she would be spending this summer working and preparing for college. This will be the fourth summer she has been employed at Pampered Palate Cafe & Bistro in Meadville. This fall, she is planning to earn a degree in biomedical engineering with a pre-med track and minor in Spanish at the University of Pittsburgh.
All four years of high school, Costello was on honor roll and a varsity girls’ volleyball team member, earning a varsity letter as a sophomore, junior and senior; was a three-year member of her school's Math and Science Club, vice president as a senior; a two-year member of the National Honor Society, treasurer as a senior; and on the homecoming court and prom queen as a senior.
Laurel Queen Semi-Finalists
In addition to the 2021 Laurel Queen, first runner-up and second runner-up, other semi-finalists include: Miss Bucktail Angela Intallura of South Renovo, Miss Montoursville Lydia Barbour of Plunketts Creek Township, Miss Mount Carmel Lauren Shedleski of Mount Carmel Township, Miss North Penn-Liberty Ryann Upham of Jackson Township, Miss North Penn-Mansfield Aubrey Griess of Richmond Township, Miss Wellsboro Alexis Banik of Charleston Township and Miss Williamson Madisen Mae Cody of Tioga.