CAHS senior Navarro wows crowd, wins title

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ST. THOMAS - Deja' Nique Navarro turned the Carnival Queen competition upside down, literally.

Not only did the 18-year-old senior at Charlotte Amalie High School sweep the sashes in the pageant, but she also performed some jaw-dropping stunts in the meantime.

Navarro, who was pronounced the 2014 Carnival Queen early Sunday morning after a nearly five-hour pageant, stunned the hundreds of audience members during the her talent section. As part of her talent, which also included singing, she put on an aerial acrobatic show in which she performed body contortions, several of them upside down, while wrapped and hanging in two curtains of fuchsia silk.

Navarro, who learned the art in just the last month, said that it was all worth it.

"My feet were swollen for weeks. There were times I was not sure if I'd be able to do it," Navarro, who wants to study hospitality management at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., said.

Navarro, a member of her school's concert choir and cheerleading squad, has been dreaming of becoming Carnival Queen since she was the ripe age of 2.

"It comes to her naturally," her mother, Taheshya Henry, said, after flooding the stage with a swarm of Navarro's family and friends, many of them wearing T-shirts with her name and picture.

Aside from winning the ultimate crown, Navarro, who was a Carnival princess in 2005, also took home the title of "Miss Photogenic," "Miss Intellect," "Best Cultural Costume," and "Best Evening Wear."

The competition was not easy, though, as she had four impressive contenders by her side the entire time.

Alliyah Dessout, 17; Madainia Tavernier, 17; and Tori Huyghue, 16 - all of whom also are seniors - represented Charlotte Amalie High School as well. Tayhira Richards, an 18-year-old senior, represented Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.

Dessout won first-runner up, as well as Miss Cooperative; Tavernier won second runner-up; and Richards won Miss Congeniality.

All of the young women dressed to impress Saturday night, especially for the various presentations that they were required to prepare for, including: swimwear, cultural and historical costume, talent, evening wear, and the question and answer portion.

During the swimwear segment, all five young women wore bright ensembles, Dessout with a strapless lime green and white one-piece and sparkling gem belt to accent it; Navarro with a multi-colored, fluorescent cross-strapped one piece and hooded cover to go with it; Tavernier with a white and silver monokini with cuffs linked together by a draping curtain of beads; Huyghue with a shimmering aquamarine one piece with a multicolored sequin panel down the front and a matching silk asymmetrical cover; and lastly, Richards with a white monokini brought together by a sheer front with an embroidered and bedazzled floral decoration.

The cultural and historical outfits did not disappoint, either. Dessout wore an outfit symbolizing the 1878 St. Croix Fireburn, or labor riots; Navarro's represented the different fabrics adorned by Virgin Islanders throughout the decades; Tavernier's represented a V.I. pepper bottle filled with local flavor; Huyghue's represented the territory's much-beloved mahogany trees; and Richards's represented a classic recipe for kallaloo.

Then came the talent section, which ultimately was won by Dessout, who sang three examples of the Caribbean musical style of soca. Tavernier also sang, followed by Richards, who also sang and then performed an assortment of instruments.

Huyghue, despite an arm in a cast after a cheerleading accident, played piano and then steel drums, trying to make the best of an impediment that the Charlotte Amalie High School cheerleading captain successfully overcame. She even made the best of the situation and included a few jokes about her arm, fit in a crystal-studded cast, during the show and earned the audience's admiring applause.

The evening wear segment was breathtaking, as the young women walked across the stage in elegant gowns just before the question and answer section. While wearing their gowns, they were asked to answer what they felt their platform was, and what they would do as queen to promote it.

In a deep red, mermaid-fit gown, Dessout said that she would use singing to help educate the community about mental illness and those who it affects. In her teal blue flared gown, with a chiffon curtain draping from her choker to her hand, Navarro answered that she would promote the territory through social media in an effort to boost tourism.

In a golden gown covered in crystals, Tavernier spoke about the need to fight verbal abuse, which she would help to do by creating a nonprofit. Huyghue, wearing a dress plated in tiny, silver squares, said that she would speak out against domestic violence by creating faith groups and youth groups that could openly discuss the issue. Richards, who wore a soft pink gown with sheer sides and billowing wings behind her, said that she would help produce television and radio advertisements to combat childhood obesity.

After the question and answer session, master of ceremonies Rashidi Clenance and mistress of ceremonies Shayla Solomon announced Navarro, who replaces Carnival Queen 2013 Adisha Penn, as this year's Carnival queen.

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