A junior at Billings West High School was chosen Sunday to represent Montana at next year’s Miss Teen USA Pageant. Elle Cook was chosen by judges from among eight contestants competing for the Miss Montana Teen USA title at the Missoula Children’s Theatre in Missoula.

Girls ages 14-18 as of Jan. 1, 2017 were eligible to compete. Contestants in the pageant system are judged on the basis of interview skills, evening gown and active wear. The swimsuit competition in the teen pageant was eliminated earlier this year. The date and location of the national pageant will be announced later. This year, it was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The pageant is part of the Miss Universe Organization, which also owns the Miss USA Pageant. The pageants for women are televised on the Fox television network, while the teens compete before a live audience with live streaming on the pageant’s website and on social media outlets.

The winner’s perks

As winner, Elle will receive a $36,000 scholarship from Linwood University, as well as a full cosmetology scholarship, wardrobe, jewelry, fitness training, cosmetic and tooth care, cash, airfare to nationals, and a variety of other prizes. The winner of Miss Teen USA receives media training, goes on a media tour, and makes several appearances for a variety of causes, including charity. Elle is in the process of organizing a non-profit organization to promote help for children suffering from chronic medical conditions; a cause she plans to promote throughout her reign in Montana.

After high school, she plans to study to become a dermatologist. She has her sights on attending UCLA in California.

Montana at nationals

Elle was crowned by outing state teen Jami Forseth. She studies communication science and disorders at the University of Montana. She went on to represent her state at this year’s Miss Teen USA pageant.

If Elle wins the national title next year, she will become the first teen from Montana to wear the crown. The state began competing in the pageant in 1983. Three state winners have gone on to reign as Miss Montana USA and represent the state at the Miss USA pageant.

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