Friday, September 24, 2021

Grace Keller Visits Section 36!

Photo Say Uncle! Photography
Section 36 had another visitor! Grace Keller is passionate about reading, a talented dancer, and the current Miss Iowa. I was so glad that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more. I was also thrilled that she was our first visitor from the state of Iowa!


So, let's see what happens when Grace Keller visits Section 36!


How did you celebrate winning the Miss Iowa crown?
The night I won my family and friends who came to the competition all met up with me in the hotel lobby and we popped a bottle of champagne!  They all knew how long this has been a dream of mine, and it was really special to sit among some of the most important people in my life and just let the moment sink in.

Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Iowa?
I've already been working with a number of organizations at the state and national level to advance my social impact initiative, Read to Succeed: Promoting Literacy in Grades K-3.  So far, I've personally worked with 400+ students implementing literacy curriculum and programming to help students reach proficiency by that third-grade level.  By the end of my year, I'd love to have personally worked with over 5,000 students.  I've also been working on securing funding to provide literature to low income students who do not have books at home.  My goal in this area is to donate over 1,000 books to students in need.


What part of the upcoming Miss America competition are you most nervous about?

This answer is kind of a double-edged sword because I amalways most nervous for talent, but it's also my favorite phase of competition!  I started classical ballet training at age three, and my talent is ballet en pointe, so I feel like all my whole life has kind of been leading up to this moment for me to have the opportunity to perform on a stage as big as Miss America.  So, while I do tend to get nervous for talent more so than anything else, my years of classical training has also taught me to do my best work under pressure, and I know if I lean on that experience, I'll be just fine.  I can't wait to show America what I have in store for my talent piece!


How did you select your social impact initiative, “Read to Succeed: Promoting Literacy in Grades K-3”?

One of the most impactful moments in my education was a one-on-one conversation I had with my fourth-grade teacher.  She told me in this conversation that the more you read, the smarter you get.  This comment led me to discover my love for literature, and through that love, I discovered my passion for writing, and then speaking. It was these discoveries that pushed me into studying journalism in college, and being interested in competing in competitions like Miss America where I could put my speaking skills to the test.  So, I kind of trace a lot of who I am and where I'm at now in life back to that moment.  But I know not all students have the same role models or experiences and opportunities I did as a child. A lot of students don't see the importance of literacy, and being able to read and write well - I know there was a time when I didn't.  So, I wanted to be able to be that role model or inspiration that pushes students to reach their fullest potential and succeed in school so they can realize their dreams like I had the opportunity to do.  Studies show that students who do not reach proficiency by third-grade are four times less likely to finish high school, and that figure jumps by over 20% when a student experiences poverty.  Knowing the direct link between meeting literacy benchmarks and future academic success, it becomes imperative for us to ensure every child, especially those from low-income hoes, is reading at grade-level by third grade to set them up for a brighter future.


As a talented dancer, what do you enjoy most about performing on stage?
I get such a rush from performing!  I think my favorite part is being able to "act" in character while I dance, especially during classical pieces.  The most talented dancers don't just perform the choreography, they take on the persona of the person, song, or story they are portraying through the piece.  This is something that takes a lot of work, and something I'm nowhere near mastering, but acting the part through your facial expressions, movements, and mannerisms really brings a piece to life in a way no baseline choreography can. In my talent song for Miss America, I get to portray a really fun persona, and I've been hard at work mastering it so my performance has that extra something special that acting the part will bring to the table.


You host the "Grace is on the Case" podcast. What can you tell me about that?

Yes!  My life pre-Miss Iowa was all about podcasting as I serve as Vice President for a podcast production startup.  Never in a million years did I think I'd be paying the bills by podcasting, but it's something that really marries my love of journalism and strategic communication, and it allows me to help others tell their stories, which is something I'm very passionate about.  "Grace is on the Case" came out of my love for true crime.  I'm a total crime junkie, and I've always wanted to have my own investigative podcast, so it honestly worked out pretty well that I started podcasting for a living!  Each episode tells the story of a famous case of true crime, and it mixes in interviews from those central to the case to provide the audience firsthand accounts and inside information.  It's been a great learning experience to make, and I'm still trying to keep up with making content while being Miss Iowa!


If you could be a Disney Character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
Absolutely 100% Belle from Beauty and the Beast!  I've always identified with her because she was constantly reading, and that's something I was made fun of for as a child.  She's also so independent and really controls the narrative of her story, which I've always loved.  I was actually her for Halloween multiple times in a row - my mom couldn't get me to be anything else!


If you had an extra ticket to an Iowa Cubs game, who would you take with you? Why?
My little brother is a colligate pitcher for University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, and baseball is his whole life.  He's always up on the minor league prospects and stats in general, so I'd probably take him since he'd enjoy it the most.


Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I was actually able to throw the first pitch out at both a Cedar Rapids Kernels game and a Waterloo Bucks game this past summer, which was really fun!  I grew up surrounded by baseball thanks to my two brothers, and it's now my favorite sport to enjoy next to Hawkeye football! My whole family and I are Sox fans because my Grandpa was originally from the south side of Chicago, so I'd LOVE to throw a pitch out at a Sox game, even though I'm Miss Iowa!


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That would be so much fun! 

As always, I want to thank Grace for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.

As Grace continues her time as Miss Iowa, I encourage you to follow her title's Instagram and Facebook accounts. You should also check out the official Miss Iowa website. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! 

 
I also want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss America crown this winter. It would be fantastic to have another Section 36 visitor wear that crown!

Thanks again Grace, and good luck!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Go Gold! 1992 Topps Gold Winner Aaron Sele

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. As a nod to the Go Gold activities going on this month to help raise awareness of the leading cause of death by disease in children, I thought I'd contribute several "gold" themed posts sprinkled throughout the month. Here's the next one.


Let's talk about this card...



The 1992 Topps Gold Winner Aaron Sele RC. Pretty sure the gold cards from Topps were the first ever parallel inserts. Thanks for the madness, Topps. The regular gold cards were relatively rare. These guys, less so. When it became apparent that winning a scratch contest for regular gold cards became easy to scam, Topps decided to award these beauties. Or, that was the plan all along and created a little bit of publicity for themselves. This would have been a great card in the day. I remember buying a stack of 50 or so of the regular Sele cards as an investment. Which is why I'm not a card investor.

Really enjoy the design of the card. I'm a sucker for floating design elements, and go overboard when it includes the photo crossing over the design. This wonderful card has both! Add in the special gold foil and the interesting "winner" portion, and this is a card for the ages.

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I'm sure you all remember Miss Michigan Vivian Zhong from her interview with us. Her social impact initiative "Golden Warriors: Fight Like a Kid" is, obviously, quite relevant this month. As such, she's raising money though a "Gold Together" campaign. I highly recommend you support her efforts with a donation if you are able. You can find the link here.

Support her efforts to be Gold Together!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ending Summer With a Sale!

The Section 36 Store is having another sale! Summer is ending. Is that a reason to celebrate? To buy something fun in denial? Either way, what a great opportunity to get the gear you've been seeing everyone else wear at a lower price! But, like any great thing, this is only available for a short time. In fact, only through Monday! So hurry over.

Don't miss this opportunity! 




So, head over right now and select something that you like. But, don't delay. The sale only runs through Monday! Only a few days before prices go back to their regular levels.

Click Here Now!

And, as always, when you do get an item, you can send me a picture wearing it for me to share with the world! The blogFacebook, and even Instagram

Like the amazing singer Sabrina did!


Tank Tops like this are on sale!

Or like the talented photographer Kelsey did!


Tees like this are on sale!

Or like another wonderful singer, Lyssa, did!


Tanks like this are on sale!

Or like Lauren did!


Tanks like this are on sale!


Or like another fantastic singer Brittany did

Tanks like this are on sale!


Like Bridget did! (With some help from K. Garcia Productions)


Sweatshirts like this are on sale!


Or, like travel agent Bernadette did to show off how amazing this tank top looks on her in Fiji.


Tanks like this are on sale!


Or Phil did


Tanks like this are on sale!

Or Holly did with her cozy new hoodie.


Hoodies like this are on sale!

Or Nicolette did with her great t-shirt!


T-shirts like this are on sale!


Or like Allison did!


T-shirts like this are on sale!

Or, like Sierra did!


T-shirts like this are on sale!

But, first you need to buy something you like. There's a lot to choose from. There are even a couple newer designs!


What will you get?





Monday, September 20, 2021

2021 Bowman Blaster!

Always fun to open packs of Bowman. While the design is always treated like an afterthought, there are still some fun players and cards to be had. How did this one go?

Let's get to it!



Here is the box.


And the packs. Only six packs, but an incredible twelve cards per pack!


And the first Red Sox is the surging Dalbec. When the year started, people were mentioning him in the ROY conversation. Then, his start to the season really squelched that...until he's put it all together of late. It's turned into a good year for the rookie. See what I mean about the design, though? Boxes, angles, colors, banners...the borders are a mess. Just like every other Bowman design.


Another Red Sox! Glad they included "outfielder" in JD's position since they're showing him with a glove on his hand.



This shiny retro insert of Tatis harkens back to the days when Bowman wasn't a computer graphics nightmare. A simple name banner. Weird that a brand that started with basically one graphic, if that, evolved into what it has become.

So there you have it. Several Red Sox. A nice insert. Not a bad haul from the blaster.

How did yours go?

Friday, September 17, 2021

Abby Garner Visits Section 36!

Photo - Faces Photography
Section 36 ha
s another visitor! Abby Garner is passionate about the Arts, and a talented singer. I was thrilled that she was willing to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more!

So, let's see what happens when Abby Garner visits Section 36!

What made you want to compete within the Miss America Organization?

When I was 11 years old my voice teacher was Miss Lehi 2009. I thought she was so incredible, she had the most beautiful voice, and always made me feel so important. Growing up I had other dreams and never really saw myself as a titleholder. My Senior year of High School I saw a flyer for the Miss Lehi 2016 competition and decided on a whim I wanted to compete. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing but from that first night I was hooked! I have been involved ever since.


You recently had the opportunity to compete for the Miss Utah title. What was that experience like?

It was absolutely magical. I have been working towards this goal for five years and I held my first title for two years so it just felt even more fulfilling. I made some of the best friends I've ever had, I gained confidence I didn't know I was capable of, and I was able to share my Social Impact Initiative with people from all over Utah (which ultimately is why I'm still involved with this organization.)


What did you learn about yourself at the Miss Utah competition that will help you in future competitions?

I don't even know where to begin. I think the biggest thing I learned was that at the end of the day this isn't about a crown or a sash or even a title. The service opportunities I've had and the sisterhood are the true reasons why MAO is so important! I didn't do as well as I had hoped to at Miss Utah but I was still so proud of myself and I came away with even more connections than before. Going forward I think it has just given me a new perspective and helped me be extra grateful for the experiences I've already had and every new experience I have heading my way.


How did you select your social impact initiative, “Let's Create Wellness - Creating Positive Mental Health Through the Arts”?

I lived with undiagnosed mental illness approximately from the time I was 7 until I was diagnosed when I was 17. That caused a lot of confusion and pain throughout my adolescence which led to suicidal thoughts. I truly believe that the only reason I am alive today is because I started theater when I was 8 and found a community and an outlet to take care of my mental health. Musicals got me through some of the hardest times in my life. When I had to choose my SII I started out with BREAK THE STIGMA - Mental Health awareness.  I loved this SII but it didn't feel personal enough to me. For my second year I discussed my story and passions with a really trusted friend and thus #LetsCREATEWellness was born. The arts saved my life and I love being able to share their healing power with my community!


As a talented singer, what is your favorite part about performing on stage?

First of all, Thank you so much! I absolutely love singing but my favorite part about performing is being able to express myself through the music I've chosen. It's simultaneously the most vulnerable and most empowering experience and I never seem to get tired of it.


If you could play any role in a Broadway show, which would it be? Why?

This is a HARD question because honestly there are hundreds of roles I'd like to play. My longest standing dream role is Amneris in Aida. She is an Egyptian princess, engaged to the captain of the army, her father is dying and she is heir to the throne. She starts off the show as a really shallow character. She talks about how her appearance is all that matters to her and doesn't have any deep relationships. Throughout the show she goes through a lot of trials and the audience gets to watch her character development. She is a very strong character and I LOVE playing character growth so this one has been on my list for a long time.


If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?

I would probably be Megera. As you can probably tell I love strong female characters and Meg has always been one of my favorites. She is sassy, witty, and selfless. I think she is a great role model. Her character arc is so interesting and I really admire her vulnerability and willingness to grow. 


As a Yankees fan, if you had an extra ticket to see them play, who would you take with you? Why?

100% my dad. He is the reason I am such a Yankees fan and he has helped foster my love for baseball. He is always willing to explain a rule or a term I don't understand and his love for the game is fun to watch. No one I'd rather cheer on my Yanks with.


Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?

I've always wanted to throw out the first pitch! I think that is such a fun honor and I am hopeful that I'll get the opportunity to do so one day. It would be such an honor to throw the first pitch for Utah's Minor League team the Salt Lake Bee's! I'd also love to sing the national anthem at a baseball game some day (when I was a kid I was able to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game with my sister at a Las Vegas Aviators (formerly known as the 51's) game and that is one of my favorite memories from my teenage years.

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That would definitely be a fun experience!

As always, I want to thank Abby for visiting with us, and for sending along the fantastic pictures to go with the interview.

I encourage you to check out the #LetsCREATEWellness Instagram account to see how the Arts can help spread positive mental health. You should also be sure to follow Abby's personal Instagram account to make sure you don't miss anything as she takes another crack at the Miss Utah title!


Thanks again Abby, and good luck with all of your future competitions!

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