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franklin county times

Junior Miss: 40 years in Meridian

By Staff
JUNIOR MISS – During the week of America's Junior Miss program in Biloxi, Natalie Pope, Mississippi's Junior Miss, left, roomed with Oregon's Junior Miss, Amy Keer. Keer would be named America's Junior Miss several nights later. Submitted photo
By Penny Randall / staff writer
July 28, 2002
When the 37 nervous Junior Miss contestants from across the state take the stage in Meridian Thursday night, Natalie Pope of Hattiesburg will know exactly how they feel because she's been there.
Pope is Forrest County's and Mississippi's Junior Miss for 2002. She was recently selected first alternate at the America's Junior Miss program in Biloxi.
Sharing her experiences
Pope will be on hand this week to share with the other girls her experiences at the national program and maybe give a little advice.
This year, Meridian will host the state program for the 40th year. The program rewards girls who excel in academics and community involvement.
Winning not everything
Pope said the Junior Miss experience has taught her two things.
And secondly, Pope said, it builds character.
Thames agreed: "We are celebrating for three nights what's right in Mississippi's high school senior girls. These are some of the most talented girls in the state."
Not a pageant
Contestants are scored in four categories: poise and composure, talent, physical fitness and a judges' interview.
Pope's success in the state and national Junior Miss program has brought her more than $30,000 in scholarship money.
She plans to attend the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and major in communications and international relations. She is the daughter of Ethan and Janet Pope.