Middle teen wins state competition

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 MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – At 17, Alyssa Sullivan already has a packed resume.

The Cape May Court House girl has placed fourth overall for her age group in a competition called “Broadway Rising Star” in New York City, performed in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade and spoken to area students about abstinence from sex and “risk-taking behaviors.”

On Jan. 26, Sullivan added being crowned Miss New Jersey's Outstanding Teen to that list.

She became the first teen from Cape May County to win the state competition, held last weekend in Millville, Cumberland County.

“I was completely shock, I really was,” Sullivan said. “I was just so happy.”

In August, she will compete at the national level in Orlando, Fla. The contest is affiliated with Miss America competition.

In 2012, Sullivan won the Miss South Shore Area Outstanding Teen competition at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center for girls 13-17.

She is a junior at Middle Township High School.

Preparations were intense for the state round, and they still are for the teen as she looks toward the national competition. Sullivan said she heads to the gym each day for about an hour and a half, and she has three personal trainers.

She lost about 15 pounds for the state competition, Sullivan said.

“So I hope to continue that,” she said.

Sullivan also plans to do more mock interviews with Miss New Jersey judges.

While competing for Miss New Jersey's Outstanding Teen, she sang “This Is The Moment” from the Jekyll & Hyde musical. Sullivan sang a few lines at a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Performing Arts Center.

The contest also required doing fitness, including sit-ups and push-ups, Sullivan said.

She won in several categories, including evening gown, interview, People's Choice Award and on-stage question. Sullivan also won a $2,000 scholarship.

For the national competition, Sullivan will spend 10 days in Florida.

She said she wants to be a role model for others.

“I love everybody in New Jersey,” Sullivan said.

For about six months, she has given talks to area students about her platform – abstinence – but also risk-taking behaviors. She also talks about her life.

“I’m not just speaking about abstinence but I’m also a role model, which is a nice thing,” Sullivan said.

She speaks with sixth-graders through high school, including students at Margaret Mace School in North Wildwood. Her talks are part of the Peer Challenge program, which spreads the word about sex abstinence and other risk-taking behaviors to students.

New Jersey has approved federal money for the program.

 Middle Township Performing Arts Center managing director Kay Aspell has worked with Sullivan before she was a teen.

“It’s tremendous. Oh my gosh,” she said of Sullivan of winning the New Jersey teen contest.

She said to compete in the state competition, one has to know current events and be physically fit, among other things.

“We’re so proud because she is from Middle Township High School,” Aspell said.

Sullivan is not stopping at the teen competition. She said she wants to become Miss America.

Sullivan has also performed in several musicals, for the high school, middle school and theater companies. She is rehearsing for the high school production “Little Women,” set to be staged at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center March 1-2.

The teen took fourth place at the off-Broadway competition “Broadway Rising Star” at the New World Stage in New York City while in junior high school.

She also took part in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade twice. In November, along with other Middle Township High School student, she sang “A Movie Medley.”

She hopes to study musical theater in college.

For two years, she has taken voice lessons, and she has danced since she was 2 years old.

In her spare time, she said she enjoys spending time with friends and family.

She attends Our Lady of the Angels Roman Catholic Church in Cape May Court House and she heads a youth group there.

Sullivan is the daughter of Tina and Jim Bartleson of Middle Township.

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