“Your new Junior Miss Niles 2021 is…”

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Alysse D'Errico, Staff Writer

Every year at the end of June, Niles hosts a Miss Niles Pageant against students and/or residents ages six to eighteen years old. I had entered the junior division only because it was fun the first year when I was eleven. I enjoyed it two years ago, and thought I would give it a shot again. I got lucky with only eight other contestants competing this year. I really had no intentions of placing or even winning this year, but life throws us all surprises, doesn’t it?

The meet and greet was very organized and thought through. It was a few weeks before the pageant to get introduced to the girls and instructors. After the meet and greet, everyone was familiar with what would happen on pageant day and rehearsals. All the pageant directors and other contestants were wonderful to me. I was able to meet other girls from Niles and it was nice to talk to girls, especially those who are attending the high school. After the meet and greet, I worked hard to master my own walk, poses, and speech. I had even watched some old “Miss America” and “Miss USA” videos to admire how poised they were and how they spoke. Of course, at rehearsals the instructors would give me tips and tricks. They were so helpful and kind to everyone. They made sure that no one felt pressured or scared to go down and walk for the judges. They would even walk with us so we weren’t as nervous to be in front of so many people.

I think it’s funny how when you are walking for the judges they see you in your evening gown, with a full face of makeup, and the sponsor sash around your shoulder. But what they don’t see is myself in my pajamas walking in heels in my room and explaining to my mirror why I want to study in Italy as an exchange student. Sometimes it is not always about what the judges see that moment, it’s about how much time and dedication you put in while they weren’t there, and that goes for anything you do in life. The dress, makeup, nails, and hair were obviously an important aspect- and not a cheap one either- but it doesn’t matter in the long run. This pageant isn’t all about looks as many people believe. It’s about the way a young lady carries herself and one who can articulate her goals.

Alysse shows her excitement and shock after her name was announced as the new Junior Miss Niles.

Pageant day had a mix of emotions. I was so excited because I’ve been waiting and training myself for this day for a whole year believe it or not, but I was still so nervous and scared that I wouldn’t be happy with the outcome. I am a very optimistic person, so I stuck to positive thoughts. In fact, I used optimistic as one of my adjectives to describe myself if I had gotten that question. By the time I had gotten there the girls were also very nervous yet excited, too. I felt more confident when everyone would talk to me and tell me how good I looked- I had told them the same as well. There’s no egos; just girls who cheer for each other and pay each other lots of compliments.

Overall, my walk went well, and my question is what almost killed me, and saved me at the same time. I started off with a “Good afternoon.” I was the only junior who had said that, and had then gone on with my response. I had literally choked up a bit and stopped speaking for a split second but said “Excuse me” and quickly picked myself back up and finished. I think the judges had realized that once I collected myself and continued to talk that I wasn’t scared or nervous and I wanted to answer correctly. That boosted my placement in the end.

Now in September, I look back to June and realize that was one of the happiest days of my life- no exaggeration. I have met and become friends with people I never would have known if I didn’t participate. I’ve been given opportunities and have done things I would never have gotten and done otherwise. It boosted my confidence in school and out, and this experience can definitely help me when I sign up or try out for different activities. I encourage the girls who competed last year to compete again, and for other girls to try something new because it’s like you unlock a new version of yourself by coming out of your shell a little bit like I did. I look forward to next year where I crown the new winner, and to compete in other pageants, but especially a future Miss Niles Pageant. Who knows, maybe Miss Ohio will be next? If so, I am ready!