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Local teens transform into ‘Dreamgirls’

ROANOKE RAPIDS – There is a saying within the Junior Miss Scholarship Program that reads: “It is better to have been a has been than a never was.”

Jessica Bolton, Lori Coggins and Kaitlyn Taylor, all from Conway, along with Natalie Riddick of Ahoskie can proudly say they “have been.”

On Saturday night at the Roanoke Rapids High School Auditorium, the Hertford and Northampton county teens competed against eight other young women in the Roanoke Valley 2008 Junior Miss Scholarship Program.

Unlike a pageant, the Junior Miss Program celebrates education, personality, talent, physical fitness and poise. This is reflected in how the young women are judge. Each of their final scores are split into five categories, including Interview (25 percent of the total score), Self Expression (15 percent), Fitness (15 percent), Talent (25 percent) and Scholastic Achievement (20 percent).

This year theme was “Dreamgirls” after the award winning film and Broadway play.

In the end it was Roanoke Rapids’ Hannah Moore that was chosen as the 2008 Roanoke Valley Junior Miss.

Moore received a $2,000 scholarship from the Roanoke Valley Junior Miss Scholarship Fund for her achievement. She will also be prepared for the North Carolina Junior Miss Program, which will be held in Greensboro in February 2008.

Moore, 17, also placed in several preliminary categories, including Self Expression, Talent, Scholastic Achievement and Interview, each under those categories are awarded $100 scholarships. She also received the Spirit Award, which carries a $200 scholarship and is voted on by the participating girls.

The Roanoke Rapids High School rising senior said she would like to attend University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro and receive her masters in business. She would also like to minor in pre-law.

“I really didn’t expect it at all,” said Moore, after her win. “I’m really grateful.”

She also gave a nod to Taylor, Bolton, Coggins and Riddick.

“I want to say congratulations to the girls from Conway and Ahoskie,” said Moore.

Though Moore took the top prize, the Roanoke-Chowan ladies held their own.

For the talent portion of the event each brought their own flair to the competition from an R&B flavored dance routine to a rendition of a Spanish folk song.

Taylor tapped her way across the stage to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” while Riddick sang Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection.” Coggins performed a ballet to “You’ll Be in My Heart” sang by Phil Collins for the movie “Tarzan” and Bolton spiced up the event with her rendition of “Mia Nanita.”

The girls showed off evening wear and articulated their opinion on how they’ve grown during the Junior Miss Program in the Self-Expression part of the event.

Both Taylor and Coggins came away with $100 scholarships in the preliminary awards. Coggins was one of four girls that captured the Interview award and Taylor was one of four who won the Scholastic Achievement award.

Coggins, 17, said she would like to attend Roanoke-Chowan Community College and major in nursing. Meanwhile, Taylor, 17, hopes to attend either attend UNC Chapel Hill or East Carolina University. She is undecided in what she would like to major in.

Both girls admitted to being nervous, but were still satisfied with the experience of Junior Miss.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Taylor, a rising senior at Ridgecroft School. “You meet a lot of fun, nice people.”

Soon-to-be Northeast Academy senior Coggins said she was overall satisfied with her performance and will remember her experience fondly.

“I’m really sad it’s over,” she said. “I wish I could do it over.”

Riddick and Bolton also felt the pre-show jitters backstage.

The cure for Riddick, a Ridgecroft School student, was breathing exercises she learned from taking Yoga. She also spoke about the camaraderie between all 12 of the girls.

“Tonight was amazing,” said Riddick, 17. “We got close…we were all backstage cheering on each other.”

Riddick said she plans to attend Meredith College and major in elementary education.

Bolton, 17, said she plans to attend either North Carolina State or ECU and major in pharmacy and nursing.

The Ridgecroft student described her experience as memorable and heartens those who have the chance to enter the program to take it.

“I would encourage every junior to (participate) in the program,” she said.

In its past 19 years, the Roanoke Valley Junior Miss Scholarship Program has awarded more than $200,000 worth of scholarships to 237 young ladies from Halifax, Northampton, Hertford and Warren counties.

The winners of the 2008 Roanoke Valley Junior Miss Scholarship Program are as follows:

Preliminary categories (in no particular order):

Fitness: Sara Grooms, Casey Dixon, Tabitha Myrick and Stephanie Brown.

Self Expression: Hannah Moore, Tabitha Myrick, Magan Walker and Stephanie Brown.

Talent: Sara Grooms, Stephanie Brown, Casey Dixon and Hannah Moore.

Scholastics: Kaitlin Taylor, Stephanie Brown, Hannah Moore and Samantha Meinsen.

Interview: Sara Grooms, Magan Walker, Lori Coggins and Hannah Moore.

Spirit Award: Hannah Moore

Top three:

Second Runner-Up: Stephanie Brown.

First Runner-Up: Sara Grooms.

2008 Roanoke Valley Junior Miss: Hannah Moore.