By Shannon Jenkins
Several local girls will compete for the title of Miss Teen of Georgia during the state pageant in Macon next weekend.
The teens will vie for a $1,000 cash scholarship and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond on July 15-17. The Miss Teen of America Scholarship & Recognition Program will also award the winner's high school with $250. After winning the state pageant, the chosen teen will then be eligible to compete in the Miss Teen America pageant, which includes more scholarships and awards.
"This will be the first pageant I have ever participated in," 16-year-old Courtney Cottrell said.
The Stockbridge teen said she signed up for the competition because she wanted to try something new.
"It's completely different from anything I've ever done before," she said. "I think it will be an interesting experience."
Cottrell, who will be a junior this fall at Union Grove High School, said she's already preparing for the competition.
"I've been practicing my interviewing skills and getting my resume in order," she said. "I am very excited and can hardly wait for the upcoming pageant weekend."
Ashlie Southcott is also gearing up for the pageant.
"I'm ... thinking about what could happen and what I would say to the judges," said the 17-year-old Hampton resident, who will soon start her junior year at Lovejoy High School.
Southcott, who participated in another pageant in the ninth grade, wanted to compete in the pageant "for the experience and the exposure to colleges," she said.
For McDonough teen Lindsey Ruthledge, the scholastic aspect of the competition encouraged her to participate in her first pageant.
"When I saw it was an academic pageant I felt it would be fun and a great experience," the 16-year-old said. "I look forward to also participating in the sportswear competition and the informal and formal photogenic competition, which are extra optional fun activities."
The rising junior at Union Grove High School said she's anticipating the experience of interviewing and "meeting other teens with some of the same goals."
As for preparing herself for the competition, Ruthledge said she's concentrating on easing her nerves.
"The most preparation I believe will be controlling the butterflies in my stomach," she said. "I plan on just being myself and trying to do the best to show my talent and academic ability to represent Georgia."
These local teens, along with many others from around the state, will be scored on scholastic record, achievement and service to school and community, personal development of talents and skills, general awareness written test, personality projection in formal wear and interview.
The state finals will be held at 3:30 p.m. on July 17 at the Porter Fine Arts Center on the Wesleyan College campus in Macon. The event is open to the general public, and tickets will be available at the door.