Polish club’s new Heritage court crowned

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published April 19, 2015

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STERLING HEIGHTS — A Polish-American cultural and fraternal group recently named the next holders of a yearlong reign representing the group’s history in metro Detroit.

The American-Polish Century Club Ladies Auxiliary held its 2015 Heritage Queen Contest on April 15 at the Century Banquet Center in Sterling Heights.

Contest co-chair Kathy Gadzinski said the contest was open to women between the ages of 17 and 25 who are of Polish-American descent.

Gadzinski said two people vied for the contest this year, Nicole Beller and Megan Manczyk. Beller, who was Heritage Queen last year, re-entered and retained her title. Manczyk was named Heritage Princess, inheriting the title from last year’s princess, Claire Diven.

According to contest organizers, Beller, 19, from Sterling Heights, attends Wayne State University and is majoring in honors biochemistry and pre-medicine. She also is majoring in Slavic studies and is concentrating on Polish, organizers said. She is a former member of the Zajaczek Dance Ensemble in Sterling Heights, Gadzinski said.

Manczyk, 19, of Harrison Township, graduated from Regina High School and is attending the University of Detroit Mercy for a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minor in leadership, organizers said. She also is a former member of the Zajaczek Dance Ensemble.

Beller and Manczyk submitted essays on what their heritage means to them as a prerequisite for entering the contest, Gadzinski said. As part of winning, the queen gets $500 at the end of her year-long reign, and the princess gets $200, Gadzinski said.

“Each have a trophy. They each get a crown and a sash,” Gadzinski said. “There is a gift basket with some girly things.”

Gadzinski said both the queen and the princess have several responsibilities during the year of their reigns. For instance, they will appear at Memorial Day parades in Sterling Heights and St. Clair Shores, she said.

“Then they kind of open the ceremony for our Polish Festival in July, and they walk around, and they talk to people, greet the people, have pictures taken with them,” Gadzinski said.

The contest winners will also represent the local Polish dance groups and come to a Christmas party in traditional costume, Gadzinski said.

Carolyn Zolnoski, the other contest co-chair, said the past Heritage queens and princesses have been dedicated to promoting their Polish heritage and representing the club.

“They’re active in Polish organizations and dance,” Zolnoski said. “We’re so glad that the young people are making these efforts, and we’re so happy to have them at our holiday parades, our annual Polish festival and at club parties.”

After winning the title again, Beller said being the Heritage Queen is a great opportunity to share her enthusiasm about her Polish heritage with others.

She said she is also excited to get the younger generations involved with the culture and its traditions.

“I want to see if I can connect another way with the youth with their Polish culture — maybe put together a few cultural workshops or something,” she said.

Learn more about the American-Polish Century Club, 33204 Maple Lane in Sterling Heights, by visiting www.american-polishcenturyclub.com or by calling (586) 264-7990.

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