Miss America's Tulsa roots

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 10:26 am
By: News On 6

You can practically still hear the cheering as Tulsa and Jenks residents celebrate Saturday night's crowning of a native Tulsan as Miss America 2006.

22-year old Jennifer Berry is an OU student and a Jenks High School grad. News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin talks to some of the people who, in their hearts, were right up on that stage with her.

"I started teaching Jennifer when she was 8 years old. As her ballet teacher seeing it all come to fruition after all the years of hard sweat and tears, seeing it on the Miss America stage was just breathtaking." Debbie Almohandis proudly displays her support for Jennifer Berry in her south Tulsa dance shop. "When you work with these girls from such a young age, they do become a family member."

Almohandis was able to go to Las Vegas for the pageant and was just a few feet away when "her Jennifer" took the crown. "It's overwhelming. You're kind of floating on a cloud."

Back at home, the celebrations are just beginning. Even as Miss America, Berry still has another dream, one that started in the halls of Jenks High School. Jenks High School principal Mike Means: "She was an excellent student, she was focused even as she came through high school, she was involved in dance." She also followed another passion, working with special needs children. "I think that's probably part of what gave her the love she has for kids and the desire to be an elementary teacher some day."

It's a dream that's now a bit overshadowed by the limelight, but one she plans to return to after her year-long reign.

Those who know her best say if she wants it, she'll make it happen. Debbie Amohndis: "She just always came through and knew that Miss America was who she wanted to be and whatever it took to get to that final crowning she was willing to do. So I'm very, very proud of her. And proud to have been part of her life too."

For the next year, Berry will be traveling on behalf of the Miss America organization to speak out against drunk driving, a cause she took up after the death of a close friend in high school.