A 2007 graduate of Northside Prep, Marisa Buchheit will give her CPS family something to cheer about when she represents Illinois in this year’s Miss America Pageant.
A native of Edison Park, Marisa also attended Ebinger and Beaubien elementary schools, and credits the arts education she received at CPS for her love of music.
“I always loved singing, but the arts experiences I had in school, especially at Northside, were what made me want to pursue music as a career,” said Marisa.
One of the first people to recognize Marisa’s talent was her choir director at Northside Prep.
“Even though I had very little stage experience, he could see that I had raw talent and cast me as Liesl in The Sound of Music my freshman year,” said Marisa. “That’s when I began to fall in love with the process of learning beautiful music with others and sharing it with an audience.”
Now an aspiring opera singer, Marisa will use her position as Miss Illinois to advocate for a transformative arts experience within schools. Her community service platform includes support for the STEM to STEAM initiative (i.e., adding Arts to the curriculum model of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“Companies offering STEM careers are looking for people who possess not only technical skills, but creativity,” she said. “Our students also need to develop soft skills in communication and public speaking, so an education in the performing arts can be a great foundation.”
Marisa plans to spend much of the fall speaking with students about the importance of STEAM, as well as character education and distracted driving, which are the other aspects of her service platform. Until then, she will be preparing diligently for September’s Miss America Pageant.
“Despite the stereotypes, I believe that pageants are a great opportunity for young women to learn and grow,” she said. “It’s a chance to learn about current events, develop a talent, create a personal platform, and basically just have the experience of putting yourself out there.”
Marisa also believes that these competitions provide valuable life lessons, including how to lose graciously.
“No matter what career you want to pursue, it’s important to learn how to lose well,” she said. “Of course everyone wants to win, but competing in pageants has taught me that real success is about knowing you were prepared and doing your personal best.”