McKensie Garber of Hale was crowned Miss Gateway St. Louis, an official local preliminary to the Miss America pageant, on Saturday, Sept. 27 in Wentzville, Missouri.

McKensie Garber of Hale was crowned Miss Gateway St. Louis, an official local preliminary to the Miss America pageant, on Saturday, Sept. 27 in Wentzville, Missouri. Garber will go on to compete for the title of Miss Missouri the second week of June in Mexico, Missouri. The Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship provider for women in the country. The phases of competition consist of personal interview, onstage question, swimsuit, talent and evening gown. For her talent, Garber performed a musical theatre dance to “Spanish Rose.” She attended dance at Ballet Arts Dance Studio in Chillicothe for 16 years. She is the daughter of Ron Garber and Denise Garber and graduated from Hale High School in 2011. She is now attending Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, majoring in convergence journalism and also studying writing, dance and theatre. During her time at Hale, Garber was involved in cheerleading, dance squad, track, 4-H, FFA, FCCLA, FBLA, National Honor Society and student council. Garber attended the national leadership conference for FCCLA three summers, receiving a gold medal each time in the STAR Events competition: Students Taking Action with Recognition. Her STAR Events projects included job interview, recycle and redesign and fashion construction. Garber attended the FBLA national leadership conference four summers, receiving second in the nation for public speaking in 2009. In 2011, Garber served as the state Vice-President for Missouri Future Business Leaders of America and also won Missouri’s Ms. Future Business Leader. In 2011, Garber was crowned Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen, the state title for the little sister organization to the Miss America pageant. She traveled the state speaking to schools and organizations on her personal platform “Promoting Character Education” and served as the state teen goodwill ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals- the national platform for the Miss America Organization. That year, Garber also served as the National Teen Spokesperson for CHARACTERplus, as well as the Megan Meier Foundation, which strives to prevent teen suicide resulted from cyber bullying. In October of 2011, Garber held a character education event in Simpson Park, where a character bench, sponsored by the Litton Foundation and Moore monument was installed honoring character and Livingston County 4-H. Graduating a year early, Garber will spend the remainder of her senior year at Oral Roberts University completing her studies, staying involved on campus and traveling to do service work with her new title, promoting her personal platform on character education and serving with Children’s Miracle Network. “I’m just really honored to serve as a role model and a leader in the capacity of the Miss America Organization,” Garber said. “Being involved with this organization for eight years has empowered me so much and given me incredible opportunities. The title of Miss Gateway St. Louis gives me a microphone to reach people I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I’m very excited to be a part of the Miss level for the first time, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.” During her year of service, Garber will be fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. All donations stay local. To read about how CMN has changed McKensie’s life, and to donate to her Children’s Miracle Network fund, visit: http://www.missamericaforkids.org/Donate/kensiegarber.