It's been quite a while since I posted. Thankfully, we've heard back from all of our Philly and NYC friends and they are doing ok. Praise be to God!
As you can probably tell from this awesome photo, we've been busy and this proud mommy has grand news to share! Shayla entered her very first Miss America's Outstanding Teen local pageant and much to my shock and surprise, she won! I knew she'd do well, but I know it typically takes about three pageants to "get your game on" and thrive, but she was absoutely amazing!
Shayla asked if she could enter about 18 months ago. Since my Miss America local winnings fully funded my Master's degree and I grew and gained in countless ways, we said, "Of course!" She worked with me, and a few pageant coaches, quite a bit over the past year and we had so much fun spending precious time together watching her grow.
Shayla will now compete for the state title in Mansfield, during Miss Ohio week, in June. We are so proud of her. She definitely learned hard work = success! (And she earned a cash scholarship too!) (Miss America started their "sister program" about 9 years ago. It is for girls ages 13-17.)
This is how Shayla started her dance, looking up to Christi as her voice over stated some statistics of childhood cancer and then she said, "Tonight I dance in memory of my friend and sister - Christi Thomas, and for all victims of childhood cancer." Sad, yet a beautiful tribute.
At the end of Shayla's talent routine, her voice comes back on and she says, "Continue to be my guardian angel, Christi, until we dance togther again." OK, she had practiced this routine countless times over many months, but the tears were still rolling down my face (as I was clapping and screaming like a "crazy pageant mom"). LOL!
Shayla danced a contemporary ballet en pointe to Scarlett Cherry's "Angel". I worked with the recording studio on campus and a guy in North Carolina to make this special creation for the pageant. It was moving, yet upbeat and told a story. In the Miss America pageant system, each contestant adopts a platform - a cause they are passionate about and that they will volunteer more for if selected as the titleholder. Shayla's is "Taking a 'Stand' against Childhood Cancer". We are so proud of her and we know Christi is too!
In this Miss America system, talent counts for 35% of each contestant's score. Since it's weighted so heavily, I had a special costume created and designed for Shayla and we could not have been more pleased with it. We Skyped with the designer from New Hampshire and finally agreed on this. I thought it was stunning. The designer airbrushed this shade of blue in it for Christi; it was Christi's favorite color.
Shayla at the after pageant party! Congrats, Shayla! You are soooooooo amazing!
Shayla with Sara Eash, Miss Ohio's Outstanding Teen, an AMAZING dancer from the Cleveland area. Sara's mom took this picture before Shayla went for her six minute private interview with the 7 judges. In the Miss America system, interview is the other "biggie" it's also worth 35% of the score. We knew she had to go in their with her amazing intelligence and personality and we think she did just that!
I had to drop Shayla off at 9am and didn't get to see her until after the pageant so I was THRILLED when I received a text after interview saying it went great and she got to talk about everything she wanted to while standing at the podium. I thought, "Oh, no! You did not talk about Harry Potter for six straight minutes, did you?!" No, they threw questions at her about cancer clusters, politics, changes she'd like to make to her school, current books she's reading, her platform and pressures put on her. I texted back, "Of course they loved you! How could they not?!"
Before interview she texted asking if she had a bracelet to wear. I wanted to say, "You know we got the earrings and necklace at the fair for $5.00. Do you honestly expect a bracelet too for just five bucks?" LOL! Seriously, as a judge I hate it when girls bang their bracelets against the podium so I wouldn't have let her wear one anyway - too distracting.
|Shayla with the beautiful Allison before the "Opening Number".|
|Instead of swimsuit for the teens, the Miss America rules have the contestants do a fitness/aerobics routine. A year ago, Shayla would not have been able to do a push up. I won't say the push up was the strongest part of her routine on stage, but she was great (and her high kick made up for that darn push up - lol).|
|These were the "treaties" she gave to all of the contestants to promote her platform. They said, "Help Scare Away Childhood Cancer". She listed warning signs at the bottom and filled little bags with candy.|
|Evening gown! She's got a bit of work to do with her walk, but we thought she looked stunning and she nailed her question - SPOT ON! Her question was about what to tell teens struggling in life. Shayla immediately responded something like they need to find their passion in life because that will motivate them and drive them and let them do great things. She's definitely got passion! I texted her, "I killed it!" (I meant YOU killed it, but I was shaking so badly. She said she read it and thought, "Was there a spider crawling through the auditorium or something? What did mom kill?" Oh, gotta love her! We finally ended the night, back home from Toledo at 2:00am sitting at the kitchen table, eating vegetables.|
|Shayla with her pageant directors, Mr. & Mrs. W. We look forward to getting to know them better and to cheering for Shayla with them in Mansfield this summer. THANKS!|
|Shayla with Miss Ohio (Elissa McCraken) who will soon be heading to the Miss America pageant in Las Vegs!|
Because of how heavily talent is weighed, (35%) Shayla started learning this dance last June and had private lessons once or twice a week for this routine in addition to the other dance classes she takes each week. At the end of the night she said talent was her favorite area of competition. (I really thought it would be interview, but she said that was her second favorite part!)