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Teen focused on service to enter pageant

Laurel Leader

A Laurel teenager profiled in this column last year for her efforts to help hurricane-ravaged Haiti will compete in an upcoming state pageant to spread the message of service.

Utopia Diabe, 17 and a senior at Lanham Christian School, will compete in the Miss Maryland Teen USA pageant scheduled to be held Oct. 26 thru Oct. 28 in Bethesda.

“It’s not just a beauty pageant,” Utopia said. “It’s also an experience that really challenges girls’ intellect.”

She is now busy preparing to compete in the evening gown, swim wear and interview portions of the contest. Should Utopia be crowned Miss Maryland Teen USA, she would win prizes and scholarships and represent the state in the nationwide Miss Teen USA competition.

Utopia’s platform will center around promoting service, including encouraging entrepreneurship by girls, teaching girls leadership and independence, and spotlighting veterans and others who serve in their communities.

She has integrated those values into her own life, especially through her fundraising efforts in support of a school in Camp-Perrin, Haiti. Utopia sells her handmade-clothing creations online and holds fundraisers to throw a Christmas party every year benefiting Haitian students and teachers.

“I’m just trying to prepare for the competition in a way that is not only a fun experience for myself but a good way to impact others,” she said.

Despite competition that includes about 70 other Maryland teenagers, Utopia is confident as she prepares for next month’s pageant.

“I’m competing because it’s a good opportunity and it portrays females in a good light,” she said. “I’ve heard it is a lot of fun.”

You can sponsor Utopia’s participation in the pageant online at

After a successful first effort in the spring, the Laurel Arts Council will host its second Artist Block Fair on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Farmer’s Market Lot on Main Street.

This family-friendly event is free and open to the public. Local artists will display their work, musicians and poets will perform, and vendors will offer crafts and food, reports Arts Council members and Old Town resident Laverne Debnam.

The inaugural artists fair sponsored by the Arts Council in May was a lovely way to spend a Saturday, with a wide-range of artists including sculptors, painters, and photographers present and tons of fun for kids. There are still a few openings for artists, performers and poets for the October event. If interested, register online at

The Laurel Senior Friendship Club will host its Fall Craft Show and Bake Sale on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, 7120 Contee Road. There is no admission fee and the event is open to the public. Crafts, a bake sale and refreshment will be available. Vendors may submit applications through Oct. 6 to Pat Harding at 301-490-8641 or Barbara Dorney at

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