Faculty pageant-winner

Stephanie Tikkanen strikes a pose during the formal wear round of the pageant. Tikkanen was named the winner of the 2015 Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Photographer: Robin Hecker

Faculty pageant-crowd

The crowd at this year’s Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant claps, sings and dances as Marcus Barr lip-synchs Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”

Photographer: Robin Hecker

Faculty pageant-judges

Jacob “Buddha” Hagman watches a video on Camp Quality Ohio during the faculty pageant. Hagman, delfin bautista, Eric Horton and Valerie Hudak served as the judges at this year’s pageant.

Photographer: Robin Hecker

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Scripps faculty members take top honors in annual benefit pageant (PHOTOS)


Ohio University faculty and staff braved the bright lights and conquered the Baker University Center Ballroom stage to reveal their most interesting, funky and entertaining talents during the sixth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Hosted by Ohio University’s chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, this year’s pageant was held Feb. 25 and featured eight OHIO employees, all of whom competed not only for the evening’s coveted winner’s tiara but, more importantly, to raise funds for charity.

Alpha Phi Omega began the pageant six years ago in honor of Ava Nichols, a 4-year-old girl who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. While Ava lost her battle with cancer in March 2012, her loving spirit continues to be remembered through the annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant. This year’s pageant benefited Camp Quality Ohio, an exciting, non-profit summer camp experience that assists children with cancer and their family members.

This year’s pageant featured contestants competing in three rounds, which included an unforgettable talent showdown, a sassy strut on the catwalk for the formal wear round, and a question-and-answer session. In the end, it was the two competitors from the Scripps College of Communication who took the evening’s top honors – with Stephanie Tikkanen securing first place and her colleague, Brittany Peterson, coming in a close second.

“We’re professional fountain dancers,” Tikkanen, an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies, said as she walked on stage with a small group of women all clad in white togas and sporting glowing containers of bubbles.

The last talent performance of the evening, the group took first place with a unique dance experience that included bubbles and exaggerated dance movements, all choreographed to Enya’s “Only Time.”

Here are some memorable moments from this year’s Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant:

Faculty pageant-1

During the talent round, Annie Frisoli, a recreation studies instructor in the Patton College of Education, gets funky with her high-spirited group while displaying some rhythmic dance moves choreographed to "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars.

Faculty pageant-2

Assistant Dean of Students Jamie Patton is all smiles as he answers a question during the evening’s question-and-answer round. For the talent portion of the competition, Patton sang a version of “Tomorrow” from “Annie,” changing the lyrics to “the sun will come out this summer.”

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Marcus Barr, an instructor in the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, displays his lip-synching skills while mouthing the words to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face.” Barr, who won last year’s pageant, generated many laughs with his version of “The OHIO Tonight Show,” which featured a lip-synching competition to songs by Meghan Trainor, R. Kelly and Lady Gaga.

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Julie Suhr, a professor of psychology and adviser for Alpha Phi Omega, wowed the audience with her vast knowledge of “Star Trek,” sharing with the audience her dream course, “The Psychology of Star Trek,” and even singing the anthem of the Klingon Empire.

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Brittany Peterson, an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies, and her son, Paxton, sing, "Let it Go" from the hit Disney film "Frozen.” Peterson took second place at the pageant.

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Paxton Peterson stole the show during his mother’s performance, throwing fake snow into the air and, at times, belting out the lyrics to “Let it Go.”

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Alicia Hall, with her daughter Avalon Haven, gives a warming presentation about Camp Quality Ohio while thanking the many participants and attendees at this year’s Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant. “Camp Quality is very unique in the camper world,” Hall said. “It really is just a place of pure, unadulterated joy.”

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Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones answers a question during the question-and-answer portion of the pageant. For the talent portion of the competition, Hall-Jones took the audience on a PowerPoint presentation outlining her search for a talent. She touched on the many talents she possesses – from her innate ability to speak about sex, sexual assault and consent to her evolving hair styles. “I am a Jill of many trades, but a master of none,” she concluded.

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Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi holds his daughter, Emily, while the contestants wait for the winner of the pageant to be announced. For the talent competition, Lombardi assisted his daughter, Anna, as she performed two piano pieces while Emily skipped around the piano to the music. “What better way to honor Ava than bring my two little girls out,” he said.

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Brittany Peterson hugs Stephanie Tikkanen while the judges announce Tikkanen as the winner of the 2015 Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant. Tikkanen, who promised her students that she would wear the winner’s crown to classes the next day, later tweeted with great optimism about her performance, “I am hoping it qualifies me for the Olympic Fountain Dancing Team.”