LAURINBURG — Springhill Middle School art teacher Arlene Grady recently returned from an experience she says was one-of-a-kind for her.
Grady, the current Miss North Carolina United States, was in Florida for the 2018 Miss United States pageant. The Spring Hope native did not place in her first national pageant, but was grateful for the experience.
“It was everything I hoped it could and would be,” she said. “Even though I didn’t place out of 47 girls, I still felt very accomplished and made some lasting friendships with some wonderful women.”
The UNCP graduate was crowned Miss North Carolina United States in January, which qualified her to compete in the national pageant. Grady, 29, competed in the Miss United States division, for women age 20 to 29, that have never been married or given birth.
“I’ve been competing since high school and Miss United States was my 10th pageant and my first title,” she said.
The Miss United States organization has one age-group that allows women age 30 and over, Ms. Woman United States, to continue to compete in the pageant circuit, but Grady said she’s hanging up her crown.
“Becoming Miss North Carolina United States was a huge accomplishment and I think it’s time to hang up my pageant shoes,” she said.
Grady said she would encourage young girls to consider getting into pageants because it’s not all glitz and glam.
“Young women need to know what’s going on in their communities and get involved,” she said.
Title holders align themselves with a charity or cause and work closely in conjunction with them throughout their reign.
The middle school art teacher is involved with Pit Stops for Hope, a non-profit out of Winston Salem. The organization partners with the racing community to assist food banks and academic educators provide children with what they need to succeed.
Their mission states, “Food and education work hand and hand in producing success. Our mission is to replace poverty with hope in our community!”
As a middle school art teacher Grady said the mission of Pit Stops for Hope is near and dear to hear heart.
“They supply students with what they need to be successful,” she said.
Grady joined Scotland County Schools in February at the beginning of the second semester after transferring from Fairmont Middle School. Despite being new to the district, Grady said the students and faculty that knew about her crown and competing the pageant were very supportive.
“The students were excited, they followed me on social media and would say, ‘that’s my teacher,’” Grady said. “Springhill Principal Ms. (Pam) Lewis and Assistant Principal Mrs. (Shannon) Brayboy were supportive, which meant a lot to me.”
The seven other divisions in the 2018 Miss United States Pageant were: Little Miss United States, Miss Pre-Teen, Miss Junior Teen, Ms. United States, Ms. Woman United States and Mrs. United States.
Andromeda Peters, Miss Virginia United States, won the title of Miss United States.
In the remaining divisions, Ary Taylor of Virginia was crowned Little Miss United States; Kimber Smith of Mississippi won Miss Pre-Teen United States; Mia Washington, of Parkton, won Miss Pre-Teen United States.
Rachel De’Angelis of California won the Miss Junior Teen United States crown on Saturday. The Ms. United States title went to Minnesota’s Alyssa DelTorre. In the older age divisions, Melody Knudson, of Arizona, was crowned Ms. Woman United States and Samantha Reinecke of Pennsylvania earned the title of Mrs. United States.
Contestants competed in a private interview, swimsuit, and evening gown — each of which count for 25 percent of their overall score. The top five delegates in each age division are asked an on-stage question. The Miss delegates are given a one-minute press conference style questioning from the judges while the younger ladies are given 30 seconds to answer an on-stage question.
The women are also allowed to participate in the state costume runway competition, where each titleholder wears a costume to represent her state. This does not count towards the contestants overall score.
Grady wore a University of North Carolina dance-team inspired costume.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]