by Jonathan Weaver
Numerous acting performances weren’t enough to prepare Anna Oberneder for her latest audience.
The 2011 Ford City High School graduate was crowned ‘Miss Armstrong County’ February 25 during the annual pageant – coincidentally at Ford City High – and admitted the moment didn’t sink in until the next day.
“I wasn’t really expecting to win, but when I did, I was like ‘Oh my goodness! Yay – I won!’ It really didn’t register,” Anna said. “I was really happy that something I set my mind to I could actually do.”
Anna will be the local representative for the ‘Miss Pennsylvania’ pageant this May at Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh.
Known for her musical appearances through the Armstrong Community Theater and Ford City High, Anna played a lead role in the school’s ‘Singin` in the Rain’ in April 2011. Executive Director Kathy Rashlich recruited Oberneder – who admitted to not having an interest in the pageant before – during that performance.
However, unlike in theatrical performances, Anna admitted she was nervous for the on-stage question – which was regarding her annual solo during the Survivor’s Lap of the Ford City Relay for Life.
“Normally, I don’t really get nervous, but this was definitely a different thing. Whenever I was singing, I was alright,” Anna said. “I was nervous for the on-stage question and answering that well-enough more than anything else. (I didn’t want to be) rambling on-and-on-and-on about something that had nothing to do with the question.
Anna was crowned in large part due to her singing rendition of “Angel,” written by Sara McLachlin, and further explained the difference between theatre and pageants
“Whenever I’m on-stage, I’m normally somebody else, and it’s a lot easier to pretend to be somebody else than to actually be yourself. It’s different when you’re on-stage being yourself instead of portraying a character because you’re told how to act that character: you’re not told how to act yourself,” Anna said.
She also received support from her father, Joe – who has watched Miss America pageants on television – and other family and friends. Sister Kate and fellow IUP Student Kaitlyn Ripley, a Kittanning grad, made T-shirts to cheer on Anna.
Rashlich also supports Anna.
“I was very excited for local contestants to come and compete for ‘Miss Armstrong County’ and very confident in the selection we have,” Rashlich said. “We’re very excited to have Anna. I think she will do a wonderful job representing Armstrong County at ‘Miss Pennsylvania.’”
The first in her family to receive the honor – “Nobody wants to see me in a bikini,” according to Joe – , Anna, 18, is now a history major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania – Northpointe campus. She will be available to attend County events for the year, with her first event being a fashion show in Butler next month.
“I hope there’s a lot of places I can go, hopefully I travel around Armstrong County,” Oberneder said. “I’ve only really been to Kittanning, Ford City and occasionally Freeport.”
She has not decided if she will compete for the ‘Miss Southwestern Pennsylvania’ crown, the rank above ‘Miss Armstrong County.’
“I’m trying to get through one pageant at a time,” Anna said. “I haven’t really thought about it.”
Oberneder hopes she receives community support also in the form of scholarship funds to help offset school expenses.
To schedule Anna for future appearances, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rashlich at 724-664-2698. Interested scholarship fund donors, advertisers for the state pageant or well wishers should also contact Rashlich.