It was a packed room Saturday morning at the Independence Historical Museum and Art Center for Tea with Royalty featuring 2018 Miss Kansas Hannah Klaassen. Young girls joined their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends for the chance to dine with Miss Kansas and Queen Neelah Emma Stoner.

Betty Jean Penrose welcomed the excited audience to the tea and began by telling of how they had an anonymous person purchase the rest of the available tickets for the event. Because of the generous donation, those who were unable to attend were welcomed. 

Gentleman servers filled teapots and placed them on the tables while Penrose introduced the tea committee. "Those people have done a lot," she said thankfully. Sponsors included employees of Community National Bank and Trust, Haley Hinthorn, Renita Butler, Magnolia Scents by Design supplied the tea, the First Baptist Church, the Journey Church and the Independence Christ Church. 

"We also have with us today, Emma Stoner, who is the current Queen Neelah, along with her mother Karen," Penrose noted. While the servers delivered tea pots and snacks, Penrose read a book about tea parties and said she felt the committee would like to say those same words to the audience. 

The menu for Tea with Royalty included, lemon zest scones, mini fruit kabobs, cucumber sandwiches, BLT sandwiches, cheese n veggies, cherry mini cheesecakes, dipped strawberries and jam thumbprints.

Speaking with Miss Kansas, IDR was able to ask serious questions and have some fun with her as well. When asked why Klaassen ran for Miss Kansas, she replied, "I started competing because I wanted to have something to push me to be volunteering more and serving in my community and in my state. I felt like there was a lot more I could be doing than just going to school and working. I knew the Miss Kansas organization really strove to help their woman find success in volunteering and helping other people."

The best part of her Miss Kansas reign? Meeting all the different types of people, she said. "I've gone to the Veterans Hospital in Wichita, I've gone to nursing homes, elementary schools, high schools, churches … so I have gotten to meet all different types of people from every walk of life," Klaassen said. "That has been really cool to be able to build those relationships." She mentioned learning far western Kansas has a different time zone than the rest of Kansas, too.

Klaassen had to have a platform issue to enter Miss Kansas and because it is a cause near and dear to her heart, she chose mental health, The Mind Matters. "I have two of my closest friends and a family member who have all dealt with different mental illnesses for the past few years," she stated. "Mostly anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. I just saw how those different illnesses affected their daily life and how it made it so difficult for them to even get homework done or build new relationships, sleep at night. Kind of the tipping point, I guess, where I thought, 'I have to do something,' was one of my very best friends had to be on depression medication and she told me she felt like a failure because she had to be on medication and she couldn't pull herself out of that without help."

Klaassen said it hurt her to know her friend felt so defeated just because she needed a little extra chemical to get her through the day. "I don't want anybody to ever feel ashamed for getting help," she remarked. "We take medications for physical illnesses, why not mental?"

Once she gives up her crown in June, Klaassen has plans to take some time for herself over the summer and in August she will return to Tabor College in Hillsboro. She will then have three college semesters left to earn her bachelors degree in Psychology. "After that, I will hopefully get to start in a master's program for Dance and Movement Therapy and be in family counseling," she noted.

With the serious questions out of the way, it was time for some fun. IDR posed the question, "If you could have any super hero power what would it be and why?" Klaassen replied with a chuckle, "I want to be a mind reader but I definitely want to be able to turn it off. But I like to know what people are thinking, I think that is part of my psychology. I have to know why people do what they do and what they think about different situations so I think being a mind reader would be awesome."

The last question IDR had for Miss Kansas was, "If you came across a genie in a lamp, what would be your three wishes?" She quickly replied, "I would wish for a cat that loves to cuddle." And for her next two wishes, Klaassen had to think a minute but said, "It would be nice to always have gas in my car so I never run out and I can go anywhere I want," she noted. "Hmmm, what else do I want? I don't know. But it would be nice to never have to get anything replaced or just to be able to exercise and dance for the rest of my life. That would be awesome."

Klaassen concluded by stating, "What I want everyone to know, no matter what presentation I am at, is every life is precious and all you can do is take care of your mind and your body as they are equally important. Just take care of yourself because you are so important."