Photo: 190416-news-missnh Miss NH competition first to use new Miss America scoring system

Miss New Hampshire, Marisa Moorhouse, 19, of Manchester, films the opening for this year’s competition during a rehearsal over the weekend.

DERRY — All eyes will be on the Granite State during this year’s Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Competition.

When candidates hit the stage April 25, 26 and 27, they will be the first to go through a statewide competition using the new Miss America scoring system, which eliminates physical fitness in swimsuit and offers women a choice to showcase clothing that expresses their own individual style in the evening wear category.

Bill Haggerty, co-executive director and president of the board of directors, said this means talent is more important than ever, especially during preliminary nights when that portion of the contest is 50 percent of a candidate’s score.

“You’ve got to have a very strong talent. I encourage them to rehearse every single day,” Haggerty said of the candidates.

On Sunday, the women were learning dance steps for large group numbers at Exeter High School. Olivia Fonseca, 20, of Rollinsford, is a musical theater major at University of New Hampshire and Miss Greater Plaistow. She is preparing to sing “On My Own” from Les Miserables during the talent portion of the competition.

“I’m just really glad I get to do something so personal to me,” Fonseca said, explaining that for theater auditions directors typically don’t want to see a popular piece.

Fonseca, who is competing in Miss New Hampshire this year for the first time, is also looking forward to her interview with the judges because they will be asking about her social impact initiative and personal experiences.

“They want to see me, they don’t want to see a character,” Fonseca said. “I feel really confident about it.”

Katie Smith, 21, of Merrimack, is Miss Souhegan Valley. Her social impact initiative is “Math Counts: Empowering Women in STEM.”

When Smith graduates from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in May, she will start working as an electrical engineer at BAE Systems.

Smith has competed in Miss New Hampshire for four years and says she earned $20,000 in scholarship money through the program.

“I’ve been able to put this toward my education and to get this sum of money will make a big impact on my life following graduation,” Smith said.

On Monday, competition officials announced there will be $77,000 in scholarship money awarded this year at Miss New Hampshire, which will be held at Pinkerton Academy’s Stockbridge Theatre in Derry.

For more information about tickets and ways to livestream the event, call 603-437-9027 or visit www.missnh.org.