Seven ladies competed for the title of Miss PRCC on Saturday at the Ethel Holden Brownstone Center. Along with bringing poise and talent to the building, the candidates and audience celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Miss America competition. Freshman Hannah Smith of Poplarville was crowned Miss PRCC 2022.
Tavia Keys was selected as first alternate. She also won three additional awards: Congeniality (voted by the candidates), Talent, and Red Carpet. Victoria Fletcher was chosen to be second alternate and Skylar Penton was named third alternate. Other award winners that evening included Alexis Johnston for most ad sales and Smith for interview.
Left to right: Alexis Johnston, Victoria Fletcher, Miss PRCC 2022 Hannah Smith, Tavia Keys, and Skylar Penton.
The evening began with a welcome by Director of Miss PRCC Lauren Baker. PRCC’s Coordinator of Recruitment & Marketing Kari Eve Valence then took the helm as master of ceremonies. Valence shared a brief history of the Miss America competition, including the shift to a scholarship program in the 1940s. The winner of Miss PRCC competition receives a full year scholarship. Finally, the judges were introduced to the audience.
Before the public component of the competition began, Miss PRCC 2021 Gabrielle Lewis expressed her gratitude for the opportunity her reign as Miss PRCC provided. She then showcased her talent and platform of second language programs with her sign interpretation of “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.
Judges for this year’s competition included Dr. Janice Touchstone of Hattiesburg, Katie Crosswhite of Slidell, Louisiana, Blake Travis of Diamondhead, Christina Holcomb of Poplarville, and Dr. Kellye Bolar of Picayune. Candidates are judged on four categories including a private interview earlier in the afternoon, an on-stage interview, poise in an evening gown plus their social impact statement, and talent.
Between the different portions of the evening, Sunni’s Elite Dance Academy of Poplarville entertained the audience with four different dance numbers.
(Left to right: Karley Brooks, Lexie Johnston, Victoria Fletcher, Miss PRCC 2022 Hannah Smith, Tavia Keys, Skylar Penton and Michelle Boland.)
Keys of Hattiesburg promoted mental health awareness and showcased her talent of spoken word with a recitation of “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou. She is a student in the Radiologic Technology program and plans to be a radiologist.
Johnston of Richton had the social impact platform of inspiring my hometown for a better tomorrow. She played “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle on the piano for her talent. She is in the nursing program and plans to become a NICU nurse.
Michelle Boland of Picayune addressed the need to break down barriers for women in a male dominant workplace. She played a clarinet piece from Act III of Tosca by Puccini for her talent. Boland is in the Drafting & Design Technology program.
Smith promoted the need for recognizing “it is okay to not be okay” as the focus of her mental health platform. She did a lyrical dance to “The Girl Behind the Mask” for her talent. A freshman representative for the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute, Smith plans to pursue a degree in law with a minor in business administration.
Penton of Bogalusa, Louisiana shared her desire to help students have what they need to succeed through Miss Mandy’s Mighty Mission. This organization exists in honor of her mother who worked in the school system for 20 years. She sang “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion for her talent. Her career goal is to become an English teacher.
Fletcher of Franklinton, Louisiana delivered an impassioned message surrounding the importance of early detection for men and women for her platform for breast cancer awareness. Her talent for the evening was a dance performed to “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé. She is currently a student in the Business Management program.
Karley Brooks of Perkinston highlighted the struggles of children in foster care and her idea for “The Carry On Program” to help those children during transition times. Brooks sang “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” by Carrie Underwood for her talent. She is studying business and marketing management.
Newly Crowned Miss PRCC Hannah Smith will begin her reign immediately and will represent Pearl River at the Miss Mississippi Competition in Vicksburg in June. Miss PRCC is a preliminary competition to the Miss Mississippi and Miss America scholarship programs.