On Monday, I packed my bags for the week and headed to Huntsville. Mrs. JoAnn Tice, director of the new Miss Madison County Pageant, invited me to stay at her house and attend many appearances that she had booked around the North Central area. It was my first experience in this part of the state, and I had so much fun!
I started the week with an appearance at Express Dance Studio in Huntsville. Speaking to the girls and boys about my love for dance, I encouraged them to savor their time in the studio! I absolutely loved cheering as they performed for me! Then, I tapped for them, took pictures, and signed autographs. I hope to visit more dance studios and encourage young dancers!
Tuesday, I visited St. Paul schools to share my message of “Second Chances through Mentoring.” Ms. Sue, my chaperone for Tuesday, is an energetic and caring woman! I was thankful that she drove me down the winding pig trail. Once we started the program, I noticed a kindergarten boy who kept dancing on the front row during my “Name that Tune” game. I asked him to come forward and show us a few dance moves! He was great! The audience erupted into applause after he gave us a few Michael Jackson spin moves. I will always remember St. Paul for that special entertainment!
Wednesday was such a productive day! I was very appreciative to have Ms. Sue and Cami as chaperones throughout the day! We started with a school presentation in Kingston, where the kids were very attentive and interactive! We then went to Green Forest so that I could talk to the elementary students. I was very impressed with the school because all students in 3rd-5th grades brought iPads to the program and took pictures or wrote notes. I have never had that happen! After lunch, I had fun speaking to Forest Heights Elementary School in Harrison. I got to spend some time with Principal Oswalt and tour the school. They made me feel right at home! Most of the other schools that I visited last week were in towns with populations of around 2,000 or fewer. Although they are small schools, their students’ academic achievements are impressive. For example, two students graduating from Huntsville will be attending MIT, and one student will be attending Stanford in the fall. Wow!
Speaking to the kids at Kingston
How full is your bucket? Green Forest Elementary School!
Forest Heights Elementary School in Harrison
After three school visits, I stopped by to see several Miss Arkansas sponsors, including the Harrison Convention & Visitors Bureau, Salon Ellen, and Rebekah Lane Formalwear. Susan Farmer owns the dress shop, and I had so much fun shopping with her! I found an unforgettable pink cocktail dress and evening gown! I was so pleased!!
Then, Mrs. Jackie accompanied me to the Harrison Boy’s Ranch, where we had the best time! The ranch is a part of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home Ministries, an organization I have worked with through my platform. The 30 boys, 12-18 years old, who live on the ranch gathered in the chapel. After talking about second chances and mentoring, I opened the floor for questions. At first, they drilled me on my football knowledge. “Who did you expect to be in the Super Bowl that didn’t make it?” “Who is your favorite college football player?” I did my best to answer. When they started to ask me about girls, I did a much better job answering! “How do you suggest asking a girl out on a date?” “What qualities do you look for in a man?” “What is your favorite pick-up line?” We had so much fun! I think the boys really enjoyed it and seemed to be soaking in all of my answers!
Mrs. Jackie and I before the chapel!
Thursday, I was back in Little Rock to give a speech at the Arkansas School Personnel Association Annual Conference. I challenged the superintendents and vice-superintendents to hire faculty who will serve as mentors to their students. I thanked the administrators for their service and dedication to education. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be an advocate for my generation with such an influential group!
Friday, I spoke at Huntsville High School and Elementary School. I had the most handsome escort, Cami’s son Jaxton. He spiked his hair and wore his tie just for me!! The high school students were very interactive and respectful! I think they enjoyed the assembly! The elementary students were precious. They actually performed a song and dance and signed a book for me!
My handsome escort! Mr. Jaxton!
Calling the hogs at Huntsville High School!
Huntsville Primary School!
The kiddos showing me their song and dance!
Huntsville is the hometown of Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Ashton Campbell, and if you haven’t noticed yet… I am a BIG Ashton Campbell fan. She is beautiful, extremely intelligent, and goal-oriented. Arkansas is very lucky to have a representative like Ashton, whom I proudly call my sister! Ashton’s second-grade little brother, Alek, seems to have a little crush on me. When I stayed with Ashton’s family on Friday, I told Alek, “Tell all of your friends that Miss Arkansas is spending the night at your house!” He replied, “I already have.” Haha!
Friday night, Ashton and I helped with a fundraiser pageant for all ages. The entire town of Huntsville came out to support the girls! Saturday morning, I visited another dance studio in Huntsville to encourage young dancers. That night, we helped with the Miss Madison County Preliminary Pageant. Businesses from around the town gave over $3,000 toward scholarships, and the audience packed the room to capacity. Most of the girls had never competed in a preliminary pageant so Ashton became everyone’s coach! More than ever, I saw how a preliminary pageant can empower young women! The girls competing in this pageant were beginners, but the town supported them in their quest to become Miss Arkansas! Mrs. JoAnn Tice and her pageant committee were dedicated to helping these girls with interview skills and onstage presence! I am certain the contestants walked away from the pageant feeling encouraged about their increased self-assurance and proud of the skills they gained. This is what the Miss America system is all about!
Mrs. JoAnn and me!
All of the titleholders that attended Miss Madison County!
Congrats to Miss Madison County Kayla Williams and her princess!
After the pageant with Ashton and her best friend, Brennan!
Sunday, I watched the Super Bowl with the youth at Conway’s Central Baptist Church. My college roommate and best friend, Lauren, was my chaperone, and it was fun to spend the day with her! I shared my testimony during halftime and emphasized that failure isn’t always considered failure in the big picture. God always has a plan for our life so that we can become more like him. After halftime, we finished watching the game. I was definitely sweating those last few minutes so I was happy to see the Giants secure their Super Bowl victory!
Lauren and me!
Next week will be a great week! I am speaking in schools, visiting Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and participating in a photo shoot! I am looking forward to a few church appearances this weekend. Also, we have started planning for the Miss Ouachita Baptist University Pageant, the local title I held when I was crowned Miss Arkansas. Mark your calendars for February 25 because it will be one phenomenal show!!