Sarah Stokley Is Winner For 2013
BY VELMA SOUTHERLAND
Sarah Stokley of Newport is the new Miss Greene County and will represent the county in next year's Miss Tennessee Pageant in Jackson.
Stokley, 19, a sophomore at Walters State Community College, was crowned Saturday evening in the auditorium of Chuckey-Doak High School by Miss Greene County 2012 Sara Mitchell, to the cheers of many friends and family members who had come to the pageant to support the new Miss Greene County.
Since Stokley is from Newport, her fans did not have far to drive.
It seemed that another full-quarter of the audience (if cheering is any indication) was there to support the winner of the Outstanding Teen division, Kelly Mrock, a 16-year-old junior at North Greene High School and daughter of Doug and Gayle Mrock of Afton.
The Teen Princess division was won by 13-year-old Kylie McCormick, who attends Greeneville Middle School and is the daughter of Todd and Katherine McCormick of Greeneville.
McCormick, wearing a long dusky-turquoise dress, was endearing as she asked, "Did I win?" while the crown was being pinned on her head.
Her confusion was understandable. Things did not play out as you see on TV, with runners up being announced before the crowning moment.
On Saturday evening, when emcee Brooke Waddell-Pancratz, Miss Greene County 2009, was handed the long-awaited list of winners, she declared, "Let's put some crowns on some heads" and called out McCormick's name.
At hearing her name, the 13-year-old stepped forward and was swarmed by Mitchell and Greene County's Outstanding Teen Naomi Boling, who started pinning the crown on McCormick's head.
McCormick crouched down a bit to make herself short enough for the two to easily crown her, and asked her question.
Kayla Thornton, the 2012 Teen Princess, could not attend because of a death in her family.
Waddell-Pancratz joked that the required bending of the knees and lowering of the head to accommodate the crowning is actually a test to see if the winner is in good enough shape to hold the title.
When the field of contestants in an event is only four or five, as in Saturday night's Teen Princess and Outstanding Teen contests, Pageant Executive Director Terri Lamons does not have the judges select formal "runners-up."
In addition to Stokley's going to Jackson to compete for the state title in June 2013, both Mrock and McCormick will travel to West Tennessee for their individual state-level competitions in March 2013.
WHAT STOKLEY WON
Since the local Miss Greene County pageant is a preliminary to the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant and the Miss America Pageant, money to assist young women with their educations is a big reason for the program to exist.
That is the main reason Lamons has given for reviving the local pageant in 2007.
She wanted to start with a $1,000 prize for her winner, and not a $500 prize, as so many other pageants across Tennessee have.
So, as the winner of the Miss Greene County 2013 title, Stokley also won a $1,000 scholarship and numerous other prizes and services, along with the opportunity to compete at the state level at the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant held each June in Jackson.
This will be Stokley's second trip to Jackson as she competed in 2011 as Miss Northeast Tennessee.
SCHOLARSHIP HONORS LADD
A new scholarship was introduced this year in memory of Miss Greene County 1973, Dale Ann Dyke Ladd, who died in June 2011 and is the first Miss Greene County to die of those who have participated in a preliminary to the Miss America Scholarship Pageant.
Because Ladd had waged a 26-year battle against cancer, Linda Allman Crawford, Miss Greene County 1976, who introduced the award, urged its recipient to take to heart the lessons exemplified by Ladd: to work hard and never give up.
Ladd's mother, Frances Dyke, and daughter, Nikki Greene, were onstage to present the scholarship to the winner of the Miss Congeniality award, Heather Roberts, 23, of Evensville, a graduate of Mississippi State University.
The money for the new scholarship was contributed by Ladd's sister Miss Greene Countys.
Ever since Lamons revived the Miss Greene County Pageant, the young woman who scores the highest in the judges interview portion of the competition has received the Jack Burkhard Memorial Scholarship, which is presented by his widow, Ali, and contributed by the late attorney's friends and colleagues.
The Burkhards owned the former Miss Greene County franchise and were enthusiastic, well-known supporters of the Miss Tennessee/Miss America program.
This year, Marissa Mitchell, of Arlington, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Tennessee - Knoxville, won that scholarship along with another $300 scholarship as the first runner-up.
She has also won a former "local" title and competed at the state level as Miss UT Knoxville in 2011.
The $200 second runner-up scholarship went to Chalea James, of Talbott, a 22 year-old senior at East Tennessee State University.
This year's talent was particularly good as well as diverse, both from among the contestants and from Jerry Scott, winner of Greeneville's Greatest! in 2011, who led with the National Anthem and performed several songs, and Waddell's joking rendition of the first line of "Achy-Breaky Heart" during a slow moment.
The audience chimed in with a fairly good performance of the second line of that well-known country song.
Outstanding in the talent competition among the Miss Greene County contestants was Stokley's performance of "Defying Gravity," the signature song from the musical "Wicked," composed by Stephen Schwartz.
When Stokley competed in the Miss Greene County Scholarship Pageant a couple of years ago, she revealed backstage that she has extensive experience in musical theater. She really excelled with her number on Saturday evening.
She likely scored very high in the swimsuit portion of the competition, too, as she appeared ready to compete in Jackson just as she is.
Her first runner-up, Mitchell, was also strong in talent, performing on the clarinet, while the second runner-up, James, tackled "I Dreamed a Dream," from the hit Broadway show "Lés Miserables": the challenging number that shot Scottish singer Susan Boyle to worldwide fame on the "Britain's Got Talent" television program in 2009.
Roberts' number at the keyboard was also impressive, and Greeneville's own Lilly Crouch, the only local woman competing in the Miss division, was impressive in a dance number.
In the Outstanding Teen division, winner Mrock rocked a fluid, well-choreographed dance number.
Particularly touching and interesting to this writer was the vocal number presented by Kristen Gallant, a 16-year-old student at Pigeon Forge High School, who wore an ensemble reminiscent of Native American dress, but in gold sequins with brown fringe, and sang "Colors of the Wind."
The Teen Princess division does not compete in talent, and contestants in the two teen divisions wear sportswear instead of bikinis for the lifestyle and fitness portions of the pageants.
AN OPEN PAGEANT
The local pageant is an open competition, which means that any young woman from across the state who meets the qualifications may enter and win the title of Miss Greene County.
This allows girls who have a particular knack for pageants to accumulate enough money to pay a good bit of their college education.
Some local pageants are restricted to women who live within certain areas.
However, during the years the Miss Greene County Pageant franchise was owned by the Greeneville Jaycees and the Burkhards, it became necessary to go from a closed to an open pageant in order to attract enough contestants.
Interestingly, Brandy Burnette, an attorney in Greeneville, was one of the five judges Saturday evening.
According to her biographical information in the program, she won almost $100,000 in scholarship money from her own participation in the Miss America program in Virginia and Tennessee.
She competed in the Miss Virginia pageant as Miss New River Valley and earned a non-finalist talent award.
As Miss Historic Jonesborough, she was first runner-up in the Miss Tennessee pageant and a preliminary talent winner.
Burnette's scholarships financed her undergraduate and legal educations.