Behind the scenes of Miss Iceworm

The Miss Iceworm candidates are preparing for the real world in more ways than one. After receiving their nominations from teachers to be a candidate for the crown, the young women must submit a plethora of qualifications that showcase their creative writing skills and talents, interviews, and speaker events.

“The prompt is really open ended,” said Program Director Emma Merritt in an interview with the Cordova Times. “We just want to know your thoughts on the town that we live, what you think about Cordova and your spirit.”

Then comes the interview by the judges. The young ladies never know who the judges are, shared Merritt, adding to the mystery — as if they were going into a real job interview with someone they’d never met with an unbiased opinion out the gate. It’s also tiered to where the judges don’t have relationships with the ladies, so it’s really about that first impression, shared Merritt.

“Nobody knows who the judges are except for me. They are all women and all from Cordova, and they want to maintain that anonymous status,” said Merrit. “There is one that is public, however. That is to give (the girls) the experience of having an interview, and also to practice those interpersonal skills as well.”

Some of the topics asked during the Iceworm candidate interview process could be about current issues, such as housing.

To help the gals prepare for the interviews, there is an “interview workshop,” hosted by Dena Stavig. This is a new addition to the program this year, shared Merritt, and last year’s Miss Iceworm participants are invited back if their schedules allow.


“She preps them on the dos and don’ts before they go into the interview,” said Merritt.

Last but not least, a leadership event is held for the ladies. The panel of women include Dr. Hannah Sanders, hospital administrator and physician at Cordova Community Medical Center; Cordova City Manager Helen Howarth; and Katrina Hoffman, president and CEO of the Prince William Sound Science Center. The event is scheduled after the festival, tentatively at the end of February.

“The panel share(s) their stories, giving advice both practical and inspirational. I am really looking forward to this one,” said Merritt.

Merritt has been at the helm of the program for roughly eight years. Growing up in Cordova, she shared she has always been a fan of the Iceworm Festival and thought It would be amazing to host Miss Iceworm.

The program has evolved over the years, and Merritt aims to “recognize and award outstanding students.”

“I think it’s really important, especially for high school kids, to see how the community comes together,” said Merritt. “I think Cordova is a very unique place. I think there are a lot of opportunities here if you reach out.” 

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Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams, originally from California, is a reporter, photographer and videographer for the Cordova Times. She has a long history of writing professionally for magazines and newspapers in her home state, and she also writes her own music. Williams is a decorated Navy veteran. When she isn’t covering the news, she enjoys skiing, singing, spending time with friends and family and traveling. She first came to Cordova as a VetsWork intern working for the Forest Service as a public outreach specialist on the Cordova Ranger District.