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Promoter Handbook

The successful conclusion of any Pageant is measured to a great extent by the contestant who is selected as your winner. That person is the one who will carry your pageant’s title to the next step of competition and perhaps to the National Title. Therefore, your selection of Judges is extremely important.

This Manual is prepared as a guide to help you in carrying out your assignment as a Promoter with maximum success and to aid you in the very important task of selecting your Judges, providing them with the proper materials and assisting them through the difficult process of judging. It is strongly recommended that each State and Regional pageant scrupulously follow these methods.

Our USofA National Titleholders have a very busy year.  They have some weeks that they are on the road the entire time.  As promoters it is our responsibility to get them where they need to be on time.

When planning your preliminary, you should make travel arrangements 30 days before the pageant.  Some weekends, the National Titleholder will need to leave home and travel from city to city for the entire weekend. On these MultiPageant weekends, you should not purchase a roundtrip ticket for the titleholder, rather a "Circle Ticket" that puts all of her travel on one reservation.

Procedure for booking travel

1. All travel arrangements must be coordinated between the involved promoters by the Executive Assistant-Darryl Neuman.

2. One promoter will book the travel for the whole itinerary.  The other involved promoters must pay the booking promoter.

3. The ticket should be one itinerary that includes all flights.

4. CheapTickets.com will allow you to book a circle ticket.

5. Once the itinerary is chosen, ALL PROMOTERS that weekend will evenly split the cost of the ticket. e.g. Friday night in St. Louis, Saturday in Las Vegas, Sunday return home. (Ticket is DFW to STL to LAS to DFW) Total ticket cost is $480.  Each promoter pays $240.

6. On multi city weekends, one promoter may not just purchase a one-way ticket for their pageant.

7. On weekends with more than one preliminary scheduled, promoters may not purchase roundtrip tickets from titleholders home to their city and back. It MUST be a circle ticket and the cost split.

9. Do not forget about Southwest Airlines. Many times in trips involving destinations in Texas, Southwest is the most economical way to travel.  Their fares are not included on most internet booking sites. Southwest travel needs to be book directly with Southwest or Southwest.com. You can download a program from Southwest that will show you everytime your selected cities have fare sales. The program is called "Ding" and is on the Southwest.com website.

8. Departures should be scheduled as early as practical in the morning so that if there is a delay, the titleholder will still make the next city. The last leg of the flight to return home can be scheduled later in the day.

 

If you conducted a Pageant last year, you should first consider the individual members of that panel. You may decide to invite one or two of those Judges who showed excellent qualities and aptitude as well as interest and understanding of our Pageant system.  You can find a list of recommended judges on the USofA website at www.usofa.org/promoters

We offer the following as guidelines in considering names submitted to you:

1.                        Your Judges should be from out of town to eliminate any possibility of criticism from contestants, sponsors or friends of the contestants.

2.                        A panel of five (5) or seven (7) judges is strongly recommended

3.                        Judges should be knowledgeable in the diverse fields of the fine arts to properly cover the talent competition. However, be sure that they are capable, objective and not just prominent.

4.                        Never invite a friend or relative of a contestant. Of course, do not invite someone to whom you owe a favor. Both could subject you to criticism from sponsors and contestants no matter how fine a Judge they make.

5.                        Judges should not have judged a Local or City Pageant in your State this year if they are to serve on a State or Regional Panel of Judges.

6.                        Never invite a reigning National Title Holder from another National Pageant system to serve as a Judge. We have found that each National Pageant System is operated differently and the Title Holders and Former Title Holders want to impose their system and ideas into the USofA System.


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After you have determined those whom you would like to have serve on your Panel of Judges, compose a letter of invitation which will immediately identify your pageant with USofA Pageants and give the dates that their service will be required. They need to know you are seeking a representative of your State or Region who can go on to capture the National Title. Also let them know that you are extending your invitation because of their fine qualifications, which would enable them to select your State or Regional Titleholder.

In your initial letter of invitation, be sure to state clearly what expenses your budget will permit you to provide, i.e. travel, hotel, meal, etc. Upon receipt of their confirmation you should then:

·        Request their biography which the MC will use to introduce them as a Judge.

Two Weeks Prior To Your Pageant Write the Judges Again and Include

1.             A schedule of activities involving them.

2.             List of Judges who will compose your panel with just a bit of background information about each

3.             A copy of the Official USofA Pageants Preliminary Pageant Judges Guide with the request that it be read and absorbed prior to their arrival.

4.             Name of the hotel where they will be staying (if provided) and any transportation arrangements you have made for them

5.             List any social events you have planned for the Judges. This is particularly important where Judges are concerned so they will know how to plan their wardrobe especially if you have a formal affair included in these activities.

6.             Request information concerning their travel plans so that they may be met by a member of your pageant staff, if necessary.


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Preparing a good workbook for your panel of Judges is vital if your judges are going to find the one contestant just right for your top position. Place the following information in each Judges Workbook.

  • Opening page should be typed for each book. This page should carry the Judges name, title of your Pageant, and the Promoter’s name.
  • Judges schedule of activities is most important in a more than one day pageant so your Judges know where they are to be and what time they must be ready.
  • Order of Contestants appearances is important because the score sheets for USofA Pageants require each Judge to list contestants by contestant number, not the contestant name when scoring on ballots. This list of contestants should start with the contestant number followed by the contestants name for each contestant in your Preliminary Pageant.
  • Promoters should get their entry forms duplicated and place a copy of each contestants entry form in each Judges Workbook. This enables each Judge to study the information. This entry form will also give each Judge information for questions, which may be asked during the Personal Interview.
  • Pads of paper and pens will be needed by each Judge.

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In working out the proper arrangements for your Judges to have the best possible view of the contestants on stage as well as maximum privacy from your audience, use the following guidelines.

1.                A table so located that the Judges are seated together, close to the stage, where they can see and hear each contestant as he appears and performs in all phases of the competition.  We stress the table arrangement, as it is most unfair to expect the Judges to do a good job while trying to balance their Workbook on their lap, take notes, and observe contestants on stage at the same time.

2.                Proper lighting for each judge is a must if they are to read and refer to their notes on each contestant as that contestant performs and as they cast their ballots.  Lamps with reflector hoods are recommended. The number one complaint from judges is inadequate lighting

3.                Have one of your Pageant people check arrangements prior to show time to see that all is in order, Including extra pens, note pads, and water, It is preferred that the Judges in your Pageant not drink alcoholic beverages while performing their duties as a Judge. As a Promoter there is no way to explain the scandal of having one of your Judges intoxicated. The whole results of your pageant would be placed in jeopardy, not to mention your reputation as a Promoter.

4.                Affix names on the backs of the chairs for each Judge. A typed label will serve nicely.

5.                Be sure that sufficient space is left between your Judges and the first row of the audience.

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It is important that you meet with your Panel of Judges prior to their Personal Interview. Welcome them as a group and determine that each has read the Judges Guide you mailed earlier.

Be sure you have prepared your talk well and know your subject thoroughly for this orientation session.  Elaborate on the system of Judging and the importance of adhering to the request that each contestant be judged only in the category in which he is competing which is also stated on the top of each ballot.

Emphasize the effect judging has upon the contestants themselves and stress the importance of the point system. Each Judge should just as carefully and judiciously give valued points to number 5, 4, 3, and 2 as to number 1 in each category. This is the only way this system of judging can produce the most qualified and eligible winner and finalists.

Judges should be reminded that they are not permitted to attend rehearsals at any time! Impress upon your Judge the importance of making personal notes as they evaluate the contestants. These notes are important to the contestants.  They should be constructive criticism to help them improve in their quest to be Miss Gay USofA.  It is important to stress that any comment can be made in a positive light. 

Point out the Judges that they will be observed during competition. Therefore, they should not react as spectators but should remain “poker faced” and not applaud. Since it is difficult to show appreciation equally to all, it is better to refrain from applauding or reacting in any manner.

Be sure each Judge understands how to use the Ballots. Stress the importance of paying particular attention to all their votes because not only the winner benefits from the competition.  Judges’ comments can help all of the contestants  to improve.

The following is a list of “Judging Ethics” to be used by State and Regional Pageants:

1.                        There should be no laughing or talking while contestants are on stage, particularly during Talent and Evening Gown presentation.

2.                        Watch all contestants and consider them. Do not study your forms or begin to vote until the last contestant has finished their competition.

3.                        Never applaud any contestant in any competition because you may forget to applaud for one. The contestant’s friends and/or sponsor (s) could be watching and will think you do not like that particular contestant.

4.                        If you cannot Judge a contestant impartially, do not accept Judging for that Pageant.

5.                        If you disagree with a decision, do not do so until you have left the Pageant. At that time you may discuss it with the other Judges.

6.                        Judges should be aware of the point values. Talent is 50% of the total score. Evening Gown and Personal Interview are each 25%.

7.                        Never leave the Judges table to talk between Judges about the show or contestants. That decision is made at the Judges table by using the ballots. 

8.                        Watch loose talk between the Judges about the show or the contestants. You never know with whom you are talking or who is sitting near you. 

9.                        Do not openly compare this winner or contestants with winners or contestants from other Pageants.

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This meeting should be a formal meeting. Since the Personal Interview score accounts for 25% of the overall score form the Pageant, you are not to hold an onstage interview! Each contestant will be interviewed individually by the Judges Panel.

The purpose of the Personal Interview in the USofA System is to allow the Judges some insight into the character of each contestant. During the interview the Judges are also afforded the opportunity to evaluate each contestant’s basic qualities, such as intelligence, ability to communicate, attitude and composure, etc. The Judges may also gather information about a contestant’s professional or personal life.

The basic nature of the Personal Interview is intended to be casual and relaxed. The suggested attire for the Personal Interview is casual daywear. However, each contestant should select clothing in which he feels at ease whether it is male or female attire.

You Should:

1.             Obtain a private place to be arranged as follows:

a.       A set up to accommodate your Judges and one contestant to be seated opposite them at a proper distance so that the contestant can be seen and heard by each Judge.

b.       Adequate lighting so the Judges may make some notes on the contestant’s comment sheet at the conclusion of each interview.

2.             Be sure another room is available near the meeting room for all contestants to assemble while waiting their turn to be interviewed.

3.             Secure a stopwatch for the timing of each Personal Interview

4.             Have personal Interview Ballots with you.

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1.                    You should select someone to serve as a host/hostess for the interview competition.  This person should be a gracious host to help put the contestants at ease before entering their interview.  Many promoters have found that the reigning titleholder makes an excellent choice to host the interviews.

2.                    At the beginning of this competition give your Judges the Personal Interview Ballot. Caution them to initial any changes or erasures and to sign their names before passing them to you.

3.                    The Host for the Personal Interview should escort, in order of appearance, each contestant to the meeting room, introduce each contestant to the Panel of Judges, request the contestant to be seated and then retire out of the room.

4.                    Allow the Panel of Judges seven (7) minutes to question the contestant and then notify them by a pre-arranged signal that the time has expired. A stopwatch should be used to assure each contestant has seven (7) minutes of time.

5.                    All of the Judges may participate in question the contestants during the seven (7) minute interview and the timing starts as the first question is asked. Remember to give your Judges a few minutes to complete their notes on the interview just completed and prepare for the next contestant.

6.                    You would repeat the same procedure with each contestant until the Judges has interviewed all contestants.

7.                    Collect all ballots at the conclusion of this competition and turn them over to the Auditor. At no time are the Judges to be given the actual points contestants received.

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It is suggested that each Pageant open with a presentation of contestants. This allows the paying public a chance to see who is in the Pageant. This is a non-scored category and it is suggested that the Master of Ceremonies be sure to announce the contestant’s sponsor(s) as well as any pertinent information.  Many promoters have a theme for presentation and present an award for the best presentation outfit.  This is a way for the contestants to display their creativity.

Some Promoters may elect to incorporate this category with the opening production for their Pageant. After all the contestants have been introduced, the reigning Title Holder should be presented followed by the National Titleholder.

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The talent competition is the most important category of any Pageant. The talent category accounts for 50% of the total score in any USofA Pageant.

Talent may be any type of entertainment presentation as long as it does not create the danger of injury to either the contestant or anyone else. Talent Presentations are limited to seven (7) minutes in length. Prop set-up and knockdown time is limited to five (5) minutes. There is no restriction on the number of persons who may be involved in the talent presentation. No fire, water, or loose glitter is allowed by any contestant in this category of competition.

1.                  At the beginning of this competition, give your Judges the Talent Ballot. Caution them to initial any changes or erasures and to sign their names before passing them to the Auditor

2.                  Judges should keep notes on each Talent Presentation to be used in casting their Ballots at the conclusion of the Talent Competition.

3.                  Collect all Ballots at the conclusion of this competition and turn them in to the Auditor. At no time are the Judges to be given the actual points the contestants received.

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The Evening Gown Competition accounts for 25% of the overall score at a USofA Pageant. Evening Gowns may be of any color or style. They must however, be full length. It is important with changing styles that your Judges have some knowledge of fashion. Many contestants spend many thousands of dollars on their Evening Gowns and the contestants have the right to expect that the Judges understand and know what is being presented.

Evening Gown competition begins with each contestant modeling her gown for the judges.  This is a free modeling period and the contestant can use all of the stage area.  During the contestant’s modeling, the emcee should read the gown’s designer, accessory designer, makeup artist, hair stylist, and sponsors.  You will find a sheet for the contestants to fill out on the promoter website. This page contains all of the information that should be read.  In USofA pageants, descriptions or descriptive stories are not read.

One of the hallmarks of the USofA system is comparative modeling in Evening Gown competition.  All of the contestants should be brought back onto the stage in one line.  This gives the judges the opportunity to comparatively score the contestants.  On preliminary nights of a multi day pageant, you do not do comparative judging, so this step is omitted.


 

You Should:

1.                      At the beginning of this competition give the Judges the Evening Gown Ballot. Caution them to initial any changes or erasures and to sign their names before passing them to the Auditor

2.                      Judges should keep notes on each Evening Gown Presentation to be used in casting their Ballots at the conclusion of the Evening Gown Competition.

3.                      After the last contestant has presented their Evening Gown, all contestants should be brought back to the stage and lined up in their numerical order so the Judges can cast their ballot.

4.                      Collect all Ballots at the conclusion of this competition and turn them in to the Auditor. At no time are the Judges to be given the actual points the contestants received

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Whether you are faced with a tie for 1st Place or 4th Place, it is most important that this tie be broken. Not only are awards and money involved, but there is always the possibility that something could happen whereby your winner could not carry on with their duties and your Pageant would need to move your First Runner-up into the Winner position, and so forth. In fact, there are many reasons for requiring that any tie be broken.

If there is a tie, in any case, the contestant with the highest talent score is the winner of the tie.  In a contest with multiple days, at this point, only the Final Night scores are taken into consideration. If there is still a tie, then (if it is a multi-day contest, the contestant with the highest preliminary scores is the winner of the tie.  If there is still a tie, then the contestant with the highest preliminary talent score (if there are preliminary scores) is the winner of the tie.  Finally, if there is still a tie after the above tiebreakers, the judges vote again between only the contestants in the tie.

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If at all possible, it is highly recommended that you hold a meeting with your Panel of Judges after your Pageant is concluded. You as the Promoter should be present for this meeting and any other member of your Pageant staff that you feel desirable.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the winner and determine from the Judges their candid and helpful opinion of your winner. Seek their advice on the winner’s weak points and how best to overcome them.

Also determine what they feel your winner’s best qualities are so that they may be developed and strengthened. Your Judges can give you candid advice which will aid you in working with your winner and preparing him to represent your Preliminary at the National Pageant.

It is recommended, however, that your winner not attend this meeting. At its conclusion, you can evaluate all the information garnered, determine those points of greatest merit, and then help your winner accordingly.

Remember constructive criticism must be gently imparted. You don’t want your Title Holder’s confidence destroyed by a chance remark not completely evaluated. You are in the best position to guide your winner with tact and sincerity. The final decision, however, regarding your winner’s presence at this meeting, is left to your discretion

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In the event you could not hold a post pageant meeting with your Judges to discuss your winner, you could still solicit their suggestions via letter or email.

In addition, you would want to write a thank you note to each member of your Panel of Judges and prepare a list of recommendations for your next year’s Pageant. You will have learned much that can be used to improve your next year’s Pageant.

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The following is a recommended method for conducting the actual pageant.

Registration

Registration should be held in the daytime, well before the public comes to the pageant.  This allows the contestants an informal period of time to get to know the other contestants, the promoter, and the pageant staff.

During registration, all contestants should turn in their applications, if they have done so previously, as well as pay all entry fees.  The Official Application can be downloaded from the promoter’s website at www.usofa.org/Promoters. This is the only application that should be used. 

Also, at the registration, you should rehearse your opening presentation/ production and where contestants will stand for comparative judging in Evening Gown competition.  During registration, contestants should fill out their Evening Gown description cards as well as turn in their Talent music.  The final step in registration is to allow the contestants to draw their competition numbers.  These numbers should not be assigned to contestants, but rather a random drawing.

Interview

The Personal Interview should be held in the afternoon or early in the evening on the day of the pageant.  Contestants have the option of interviewing in either male of female attire, so the interview should be scheduled with plenty of time afterwards to prepare for the evening competition.

During the interview time, all contestants should have a comfortable place to wait until their own interview.  They will be interviewing with judges individually only, no group interviews or onstage interviews.  There should not be anyone else in the interview room, except the judges and the contestant.  Some promoters use the same room where the pageant is going to be held for their interviews, while others use an office or a quiet room.

The Pageant Begins

For most pageants, the night will begin with a parade of contestants.  This is an opportunity for the audience to meet the contestants.  In addition, you should recognize the former and current titleholders of your pageant.  Finally, you should recognize the reigning National Titleholder.

Following presentation, special entertainment may take to the stage.  It is important to schedule enough time for your contestants to prepare backstage, during this time, for their first category of the night. 


 

The Competition

You have the option of holding either Evening Gown or Talent Competition first during the evening.   Between the categories you should schedule entertainment and/or breaks to allow the contestants to prepare for their next category.  Tipping of contestants is not allowed during either Talent or Evening Gown competition.

Crowning the Winner

Following the completion of judged categories, you should schedule entertainment or a break to allow time for the totaling of scores.  Only the auditor should be present for the totaling of scores.  Once the scores have been totaled care should be taken so that the results are not discussed.  The results should be kept by the auditor until the announcement of the placements.

Begin the crowning ceremony by bringing all of the contestants back to the stage.  This is their moment, make them feel special.  Contestants should wear a full length gown for crowning, it may be any style, but it must be full length.  It does not have to be the gown that they wore for competition, but it may be.

Following the contestants, bring back the persons that will be assisting with the crowning.  This includes former titleholders as well as any special entertainment that will be assisting.  Finally the reigning National Titleholder should be introduced. 

Category awards (if being given) are announced first, then placements,  then the winner.  Note, if giving category awards and they were all one by one contestant, do not present them individually, rather announce the placements, then the winner. 

After the Pageant

All contestants should receive their comment sheets back immediately following the crowning.  These can either be bundled up together and presented to them as a packet or each judge can give their comment sheets to the contestants.  The judges should also be given a chance to discuss their comment sheets with the contestants, one on one.  If possible, a final tally sheet of the pageant results should be posted in the dressing room or individual copies of the final scores presented to the contestants.  A contestant should not leave the pageant wondering where they placed in the pageant.  Openness about scores prevents problems in the future. 

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You should have enough space in all of your dressing areas for the contestants to have enough room to get ready.  In addition, there should be adequate lighting and electricity available for small appliances.  Some contestants may have back up dancers in their talent numbers, some space must be allotted for them to get ready.  It doesn’t need to be in the same place as the contestants.  Many promoters have found that it works well to limit the contestants to one dresser only, in the dressing room.

Some pageants separate the contestants from special entertainment.  This is not necessary unless there are judges that will be using the dressing rooms.  Any judges should be in a separate dressing area.  In addition, you should provide a dressing area for the reigning National Titleholder with adequate lighting and space.

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All Prize packages should be clearly spelled out in the contestant application packet.  Do not promise the contestant anything that you are not willing to give them.  You can be held legally responsible for anything listed in the prize package.  You can prepare a contract for the winner to sign before giving them their prize money.  A sample is available on the USofA Promoter website.  It is suggested that you split the winner’s prize money two ways, half the night of the pageant and half upon arrival at the National Pageant.  You should not split the winner’s prize money in a manner that they would receive prize money after the National Pageant. 

You should give the First Alternate the amount of their entry fee the night that they win, and the remainder upon arrival at the National Pageant.  Remember, it is very difficult to get back money from someone who does not attend the National Pageant.

A copy of the Prize package offered, the winners names, entry fee to the National Pageant, and a copy of any contract that you required them to sign must  be sent to the Pearland, TX office within 10 days of the contest.

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Each of the Ballots (Talent, Evening Gown, and Personal Interview) are arranged from 1st Place to 12th Place. You should always score from top to bottom on these Ballots. If you had only five (5) contestants then you would have only 1st Place though 5th Place on the Ballots filled in.

Only one (1) contestant is placed on each line of the Ballot. And you should assign each Judge a number from one (1) to five (5).

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The comparative scoring system used by USofA Pageants is the fairest scoring system used in the Nation today. The purpose of this system of Judging is to eliminate contest fixing. It has been proven many times that it is impossible to fix a pageant using this scoring system. The following examples should explain how to use these score sheets and the proper way to post the scores on the “Auditor’s Work Sheets” and the “Master Tally Sheet”.

Below are the proper ways to post the Auditor’s Work Sheets for all competitions for contestants 1 to 5 with five (5) Judges.

1.                        In the Personal Interview category, contestant number 1 received 1, 9, 12, 8, & 8 from Judges number 1 to 5 respectively. The total points earned for contestant number 1 from all Judges equals 47. In the Talent Category—24, 18, 20, 20, 18 for a total of 100 points. In the Evening Gown category, 10, 10, 12, 9, 8 for a total of 49 points (see all examples on “Auditor’s Work Sheet” in each category.)

2.                        The points for each contestant from all Judges is transferred from the Ballots to the “Auditor’s Work Sheet” and then totaled.

3.                        The total points for each contestant is then transferred to the “Auditor’s Master Tally Sheet”: under each category of competition. (See “Auditor’s Master Tally Sheet” example.)

4.                        Auditor should be reminded to sign and date all “Auditor’s Work Sheets” and “Auditor’s Master Tally Sheet”.

There is also a Master Score Sheet that includes all of the information contained on the “Auditor’s Worksheets” and the “Auditor’s Master Tally Sheet” onto one page.  This sheet is available from the USofA Promoter’s Website.

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If your pageant has sufficient contestants, you may hold a “Multi Day Pageant” with permission of the National Office. These Pageants follow the same procedures as the National Pageant.

Contestants are placed in groups and compete in all categories during the preliminary nights. Following the conclusion of preliminaries, the Top Twelve contestants compete again in Talent and Evening Gown Competition. The Personal Interview score is carried over from Preliminary Competition.

These procedures may only be used with the permission of the National Office, at that time, a Promoter will receive the manual explaining these procedures.

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 Revised 6/10/2003