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Forrest County's Pope wins 2002 Junior Miss

By Staff
MISSISSIPPI 2002 JUNIOR MISS HONOREES From left are Lauderdale County's Junior Miss Carrie Elizabeth Jones, third alternate; Starkville's Junior Miss Brittany Caroline Carr, second alternate; Mississippi's 2002 Junior Miss Natalie Joy Pope, Forrest County; and Scott County's Junior Miss Christin Lee Leiden, first alternate. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ida Brown/The Meridian Star
August 5, 2001
Forrest County's Natalie Joy Pope, a winner in preliminary fitness and talent competition, was selected Saturday night as the 2002 Mississippi Junior Miss.
Pope, who won the Brainstorm Creative Group Talent Award and Bo Russell Memorial Scholastic Award, stood in disbelief when her named was called from the stage at Meridian's Temple Theater.
Amid hugs and congratulations from several fellow Junior Misses, she walked to the front of the stage to accept her Mississippi Junior Miss medallion from her predecessor, Lindsey Miller.
A crowd favorite, Pope was a double-preliminary winner during Friday's competition, copping honors in talent and fitness. For her talent presentation, she performed the classical piece "Firefly" on piano.
Undecided on her college choice, Pope plans to pursue a career as an international diplomat. She is the daughter of Janet and Ethan Pope of Hattiesburg.
Alternates in the 2002 program were Scott County's Christin Lee Leiden, first; Starkville's Brittany Caroline Carr, second; and Lauderdale County's Carrie Elizabeth Jones, third.
Leiden was a double-preliminary winner in poise and talent. She is the daughter of Kelly and Matthew Leiden of Forest.
Carr was a preliminary winner in talent. She is the daughter of Frances and Tony Carr of Starkville.
Jones was a preliminary winner in scholastics. She is the daughter of Paulette and Michael Jones of Meridian.
Rounding out the list of Top 10 finalists were:
Hinds County's Junior Miss Anne Celeste Watson, a double-preliminary winner in poise and fitness. She is the daughter of Rebecca and David Watson of Terry.
Meridian's Junior Miss Jaime Broadhead, a preliminary winner in scholastics. She is the daughter of Dale and Susie Broadhead of Meridian.
Rankin County's Junior Miss Angela Christine Halverson, a double-preliminary winner in poise and scholastics. She is the daughter of Ellie and John Halverson of Brandon.
Clinton's Junior Miss Courtney Renee Strong, daughter of Janet and Jerry Strong of Clinton.
Pearl River's Junior Miss Leslie Ann Williams, daughter of Carol and Jon Williams of Poplarville.
Jasper County's Junior Miss Leslie Ann McNeil, daughter of Robin Monk and Joe McNeil, both of Bay Springs.
Simpson County's Junior Miss Joanna Lee Gaston, was presented the Has-Been Association Spirit Award. The daughter of Robin and Hamp Gaston of Mendenhall, she was a preliminary winner in talent.
The finalists competed in poise, talent and fitness.
Special entertainment was presented by Kristy Irons, 2000 Mississippi Junior Miss from Neshoba County. Another highlight of the evening was Miller, the 2001 Junior Miss, who performed a lyrical dance to a prerecorded farewell message.
As Mississippi's 2002 Junior Miss, Pope will receive more than $15,000 in scholarships and awards. She will go on to represent the state at the America's Junior Miss Program in Mobile.
Ida Brown is special sections editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3224, or e-mail ibrown@themeridianstar.com.