By Mehgaan Jones
A Riverdale High School teen is the winner of the Second Annual Miss Elite of Clayton County Pageant.
Freshman, Raven Ray, took the crown as the winner of the pageant, which included nine contestants from Clayton County high schools, according to pageant officials.
"Raven had the highest score, which exceeded the other eight contestants," said Vietta Bell, a pageant committee member, and teacher at Riverdale High School.
Ray received a crown and sash, along with $500 in savings bonds, to use towards college, or any career path she may choose.
"I feel really honored that I won," said Ray. "I am really excited about this opportunity..."
The pageant took place Sunday, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, in Jonesboro.
According to Ray, this is her first pageant. "Even though I like to expose myself to new things, I am a conservative person...so I kind of wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and try something new," she said.
Riverdale High School's Principal, Dr. Terry Young, raved about Ray's talents and character.
"She is an extraordinary ninth grader...[she has] a 4.0 GPA after the first semester of high school, which is pretty impressive," said Young.
"We are looking for things to get the winner [Ray] involved in, around the community," he added.
Miss Elite Pageant Coordinator, Sunceray Johnson, said the pageant provides high school students the opportunity to express themselves in a positive manner, while displaying both talent and verbal ability.
"My vision is to build school-wide bonds amongst those young ladies who attend Clayton County High Schools," she said.
Pageant committee member Vietta Bell said participants for Miss Elite competed in front of a panel of professional pageant judges.
"Each contestant was judged based on poise/beauty, interview question[s], talent, and overall impression," Bell added.
According to pageant officials, the runner-up for Miss Elite, ended in a tie.
"Taylor Brooks of Mt. Zion High School, and Celeste Stephens, of Morrow High School both won the title of first runner-up," Bell said.
Pageant rules require that each participant be a female student, in grades ninth through twelfth, and be currently enrolled in a Clayton County High School, she said.
"I like the fact that we had young ladies from other schools," said Riverdale Principal Young.
"It was such a glamorous experience...I think it was really good for our young ladies."
According to pageant officials, each participant was responsible for her sponsor of choice.
"Sponsor's consisted of family members, friends, businesses, schools, and churches," said Bell.
Raven Ray said she faced some financial setbacks in preparing for the pageant.
"[The setbacks] were more of a reason for me to persevere," she said.
"I had to pull some strings, I had to make some personal sacrifices, but where there's a will, there's a way."
For more information about the Miss Elite of Clayton County Pageant, contact Sunceray Johnson, pageant coordinator, at (770) 473-2905.