Normally during Miss America Week and Miss Idaho Week I tell you all about my experiences from competing, but this year I am going to tell you about the program and what it represents. I love the Miss America Organization. I competed for throughout college and once I got married I knew I needed to stay involved so I switched over to the volunteer side and I am now the PR Chair for the Miss Idaho Board. Did you know that the Miss America crown has four points and each point represents a different word that the organization stands for? The four points are service, scholarship, style, and success. So over the next few days I am going to share with you why those four points are equally important and what they have meant to me since my time competing.
Service. This is one of the main points of the Miss America Organization that sets our program aside from all the other pageants. The Miss America Organization is deeply rooted in service. In fact, the year that you wear your crown and your title is called your "year of service" because we, as titleholders, are expected to serve wherever we may go. We are role models in our community. We are representatives of the area we live. Service embodies moral ethical value and that is very important in the Miss America Organization.
Beyond the basic service we offer to our community, every contestant is required to have a personal platform that they promote during their year of service. Ultimately, this is where they leave their legacy. There are scholarships awarded based on the effort they put in, the quality of life they contribute, and the amount of time they spend promoting something so important to their personal lives. Every young woman is able to pick their platform, to make it just that - personal. Based on life experiences and passions. This way it isn't just another "requirement", but it is something the titleholder wants to share, wants to speak about, and is ready to make a difference in.
During my year of service my platform was S.T.A.M.P. Out Bullying. I developed a presentation that is informative and interactive so the students can be involved with the process. First I introduce the students to my friend, Flat Fred the chalkboard, and ask them for examples of bullying. As they name off their examples, I write the words on Fred. As soon as Fred is covered, I ask the kids how Fred feels. The answer is always, “Sad!” After that I ask the kids for ways they can make Fred happy and feel included at their school. Every time a student gives an answer, I smudge out one of the mean words, leaving a little residue behind. Once all the words are smudged out, I show the kids that even though they can apologize and fix things, which is important, the scars are already on Fred. So it is best to never do it in the first place. Then I teach the kids an acronym to S.T.A.M.P. out bullying in their school. I was able to promote my platform to over 8000 students in seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school, as well as the Idaho State Student Council Conference. During my last year competing, I received the Miss America Community Service award for the work I did, and that was an honor just as great as the crown. To be recognized for my hard work with something I was so incredibly passionate about.
The amount that each woman gets out of the crown is dependent on what she puts in. That is why the service portion is unique. As we serve our communities, we will feel a greater loyalty to the people that have supported us. And as we feel a greater loyalty to those that have supported us, the fact that we have a crown and a sash becomes increasingly special. And while I could potentially accomplish great things without a crown and sash, they are keys and they are avenues into new experiences and opportunities. Greater opportunities because we are role models. We have a responsibility to serve, but we wouldn't take on the title and we wouldn't accept the crown if we weren't fully prepared to serve every day.
I am grateful every day for my four years of service. Those moments in the Miss Idaho Organization have built up a desire for further service in my life. And I hope to pass that same passion onto future contestants as I volunteer for the program. Service takes more than one person, but I will do all I can to build community where I live.