• Last modified 2009 days ago (Dec. 12, 2018)


A year in the life of Miss Kansas

Staff writer

Hannah Klaassen was at Marion High School Friday speaking about the Miss Kansas organization and addressing driving safety. Her appearance was one of at least 400 she is required to make throughout the year after she was crowned Miss Kansas in June.

She is taking a year off from her studies in psychology at Tabor College to fulfill her duties as Miss Kansas. A business manager sets up appearances and arranges her schedule.

The Miss Kansas organization is a non-profit, so it seeks partnerships with various state entities to pay the title-holder for her appearances.

Hannah said she is the only person in the Miss Kansas organization who is paid. Kansas Department of Transportation paid for her appearance at Marion High School.

Hannah grew up in Arkansas City but her grandparents — Jack and Laverna Braun and Jeannie Klaassen — live in Hillsboro.

She was raised in a musical family, learning to play piano at an early age and cello at age 11.

At the urging of Kristen Boxman, crowned Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen in 2013 and now a news reporter and producer at KWCH-TV, Wichita, Hannah competed in a Kansas teen pageant at age 16.

She has won numerous scholastic honors, had several leadership roles at Tabor, and taught dance and writing.

She could have advanced to the Miss Kansas pageant at age 17 but decided to wait until she was older.

“I wanted to have some maturity,” she said.

Her patience paid off when she won the crown in June.

She looks back on the months leading up to it with wonder.

After winning a regional contest in November 2017, her life became a whirlwind of activities that included school, preparing for interviews, and reading news reports every day. She concentrated on eating right and working out to be in her best shape for the evening gown and swimsuit competition and performance as a tap dancer.

Hannah said winning the crown was a lot like climbing a ladder.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “My goal was to be in the top 10. Then, when I reached the top five, I thought it was amazing. I told myself that being runner-up would be wonderful, but then I won!”

After a week of intense activities, she was exhausted.

“It was a lot like summer camp, except that I got paid,” she said.

Her parents, Paul and Lisa, supported her all the way.

“Nobody thought I would win,”
she said, “but after I did, they have been a huge support. I travel a lot, so it’s nice to go home and relax.”

As a psychology major, her focus is on mental health. She said she studied a lot to prepare for presentations. She appears at schools during special events such as Red Ribbon Week to promote avoidance of drugs and making good choices.

Her talks at schools are adjusted to fit four or five different age levels, from elementary to college.

She has made appearances across the state, many of them in the Arkansas City and Hillsboro areas. She attended outdoors events planned by Kansas Wildlife and Parks and is scheduled to attend several hospital Christmas parties and visit nursing homes.

Hannah plans to continue her education at Tabor College next fall. Her goal is to obtain a master’s degree in family therapy and dance/movement therapy.

“The mind matters,” she said. “Hope is never lost no matter how dark the world seems.”

Last modified Dec. 12, 2018