Miss Washington is proud of her Newcastle roots

September 6, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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To the friends and community members who knew her as a child growing up in Newcastle, Mandy Schendel’s stint as Miss Washington comes as no surprise.

“When she puts her mind to something, she sticks with it and she’s had Miss Washington in her mind since she was very little. So I’m definitely not surprised she is here today,” said Nikka Johnson, a friend of Schendel’s from Hazen High School.

Schendel, a 2008 graduate of Hazen, was crowned Miss Washington in July. She is set to compete in the Miss America Pageant in January.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Mandy Schendel, Miss Washington 2012, addresses supporters at a homecoming party held in her honor Aug. 25.

Surrounded by family, friends and community supporters, Schendel held a homecoming celebration at the Barbee Mill Community Beach Club on Aug. 25.

The purpose of the event was to allow the local community to come and see Schendel and wish her well as she travels the state for speaking events and prepares for the Miss America Pageant.

Newcastle resident Gretchen Paletta said she knew Schendel was destined for greatness after watching her address the Hazelwood Elementary School PTA about her nonprofit organization. At just 11 years old, Schendel founded The Difference Maker Organization, which empowers teens to become leaders through volunteer service.

“The thing about Mandy is I remember her from a PTA meeting and she came and talked to us about her nonprofit when she was still in high school, and she was so poised and so eloquent,” Paletta said. “I was so impressed with her. I knew great things were going to happen for her.”

Paletta, who plans to go to Las Vegas to watch Schendel compete in the Miss America Pageant, said she hopes Schendel’s term as Miss Washington brings some pride and recognition to the Newcastle community.

“I think it’s really important that Newcastle stay a community because we are such a small community and I think people now are getting to know where it is, who we are, what we’re about,” Paletta said. “It’s nice to have her representing and putting the name on the map.”

Monica Nevi, a friend from Schendel’s high school days, said Miss Washington has not changed much from her time at Hazen.

“She was pretty similar to what she’s like now, very driven, very goal-oriented, just a very nice person,” Nevi said.

Nevi added that what set Schendel apart from others was her passion and motivation to succeed.

“She was always very motivated and focused,” Nevi said. “She’s so well-spoken. She’s very passionate about what she’s doing and I think that’s important with anything.”

Schendel said she takes a lot of pride in her Newcastle roots.

“I think being from a place that is so focused on family is great,” Schendel said. “Newcastle is this really eclectic group of people that get to play and enjoy Bellevue and Seattle, but get to come home and I think that’s what I really appreciated most about Newcastle.”

In the future, Schendel said she hopes to raise her family in the Newcastle community.

“It’s a place that in a couple years, when I find a man and have a family, it’s a place that I would love to live with my family, too,” she said.

The next few months will be hectic for Schendel, as she gears up for the Miss America Pageant. She will travel across the state giving multiple speaking engagements a day. She does not mind, though; Schendel is just focused on enjoying her yearlong reign as Miss Washington.

“I’m excited about it, it’s going to be fun,” Schendel said. “It’s going to be busy, but I only get 365 days as Miss Washington, so I’m going to love all of them.”

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