Prepping for a bigger stage
ATLANTIC CITY — On Friday afternoon, teachers and staff at the Texas Avenue school welcomed the reigning Miss New Jersey.
She was ushered into a small meeting room.
Jade Glab, 20, of Belmar, Monmouth County, unloaded her multiple bags containing everything she needed for her visit: her crown, the glittering sash, along with and a Bluetooth amplifier speaker and MacBook laptop.
For the six months since winning the state pageant, Glab has developed “Junk Free Kids,” an assembly program for early elementary school-aged kids that promotes her social impact initiative “Healthy Children, Strong America.”
The 45-minute assembly includes Glab telling her own story about being diagnosed with high cholesterol at the age of 10, identifying nutritious snacking options and plenty of music, including the “Healthy ABC’s” rap.
“I like to say I’m Jade, that’s my first title. Then Miss New Jersey is the second one and I’m the self-proclaimed ‘veggie wrapper’, with a W,” she said.
With less than a month to go until the Miss America 2020 Competition, talking to an audience is just one of the ways Glab is preparing for the national stage. In the last two years, Miss America has eliminated the two main fashion staples of the competition — swimsuit and evening wear — in favor of promoting a modern, socially conscious Miss America.
The current competition, which recently moved from its hometown of Atlantic City to Connecticut and from September to Dec. 19, will consist mostly of on-stage interviewing and summarizing the candidates’ social impact initiative, along with a 90-second talent performance.
“With the Miss America Organization, we’ve had to write essays about our intent in life, our purpose, and I’ve been able to write about all the (teaching programs) I came up with last year,” she said. “Miss America is a 365-day-a-year job, and the best way to earn that job, the best way to practice, is being the best state titleholder that we can.”
While being on stage has always been a passion for Glab, she has worked to combine that talent with her ambitions for entrepreneurship.
“The biggest thing I’ve been doing is school visits,” Glab said.
Her roles as Miss New Jersey helped her develop her “Junk Free Kids” curriculum, which has a fun performance angle, as well as an educational message and basis to grow a brand on.
“I’m going to be attending the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, so I decided let’s take a business approach to this, let’s take a marketing approach.”
Her focus is on hitting the talking points of her platform — a key element to preparing for this competition under the new Miss America 2.0 rules.
Picking Adidas sneakers over pageant high heels was necessary for Glab, who planned to not only teach about healthy eating, but dance with the kids, busting out moves like the Floss, the Hype Dance and more.
“Kids just want to move during assemblies. They have ants in their pants and they want to move around. So I incorporated that into a part of my learning,” Glab said.
The rest of the assembly includes a game of freeze dance, reading a book about healthy food and questions from students. Despite a tightly packed program, when technical difficulties occur with her PowerPoint slideshow, Glab can always fall back on her talent: singing.
She first sang “O mio babbino caro,” the Italian aria she won Miss New Jersey’s talent competition with, then started a “Let it Go” sing-along from the popular Disney movie “Frozen.”
Even though the Miss America Organization has made a strong effort to modernize, in the eyes of many, there’s still a element of glamour that goes along with wearing the crown.
“Princess! Princess!” yelled a young kindergartner who ran from the teacher’s aide to hug Glab in the hallway. For Glab, the royal assumption is just part-and-parcel with being a titleholder.
“Maybe when I’m Miss America, I can be the Papaya Princess,” she said, bringing the topic back around to her social impact initiative.
Glab has her eyes set on being Miss America and adapting everything she’s worked on as Miss New Jersey for a national platform. She deferred her transfer to Georgetown University to the spring semester, that is, unless she wins Miss America.
“I’m looking forward to representing as a state titleholder at Georgetown. Like Miss New Jersey can be at HoyaThon, the school’s dance marathon for Children’s Miracle Network.”
Glab wouldn’t be the only titleholder at D.C. University. Miss America 2018 Cara Mund currently attends Georgetown’s law school.
After the assembly, the teachers and staff got a chance for a one-on-one with Glab, getting pictures and remembering Miss America’s heyday in Atlantic City.
Vice Principal Bohdan Christian, who grew up just feet away from Boardwalk Hall, explained to Glab his memories of seeing the television equipment loaded in by the back entrances of the hall.
“It’s so exciting to have her here,” said Texas Avenue School teacher Angeliki Andreatos-Hughes, who helped bring the assembly to the school, “we had Miss America (Nia Franklin) here right after she won. We all really enjoy having the Miss America girls come here.”
With the pageant just a few weeks away, there’s very little left for Glab to prepare for. Last weekend, the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation held her send-off party, a fundraiser to help with travel and expenses to get to the national pageant.
For Glab, who previously held the Miss Central Jersey Beaches local title, said it’s bittersweet to not be in Atlantic City this year, but the trip to Connecticut may be more convenient for family living in North Jersey and New York.
“As much as I love Atlantic City, I was crowned in Atlantic City, knowing my family will have easier transportation is thrilling to me,” Glab said.
This year’s Miss America 2020 Competition has moved to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, and the final night of competition will be broadcast on Dec. 19 on NBC.