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40th Miss RHS Pageant crowns Madeline Cooper

Madeline Elizabeth Cooper, daughter of Matt and Greta Cooper, was crowned Miss RHS 2022 during the 40th annual Miss RHS Pageant Friday in the RCS auditorium.

“There were so many talented and qualified girls on the stage, and it’s such an honor to be chosen,” said Cooper. “I am so thankful to have been chosen as the 40th Miss RHS. This pageant has a long and beautiful legacy, and I’m thankful for everyone who has helped me along the way.”

Cooper was one of the 23 contestants who competed in judges’ interview, evening gown and talent. For her talent, she showed her skills with a musical theatre vocal performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the Broadway musical “Funny Girl.”

Cooper, a senior, is a member of the Franklin County Junior Leaders, RCS Youth Leadership Academy, varsity cheer squad and musical theatre. She is also a member of the Tharptown Student Ministry Praise Band and 2022’s Distinguished Young Woman of Franklin County.

While the prize package is worth more than $2,000, Cooper described many other benefits she has enjoyed from competing in the Miss RHS pageant, referring to her selection as Miss RHS 2022 as a “happy surprise.” 2022 marked her fourth year participating as a contestant.

“Stepping out of my comfort zone to participate in the Miss RHS pageant has been such a confidence booster,” said Cooper. “I have improved in the quality of my performances and in my interviewing skills.

“The poise and confidence instilled in me are gifts I will carry with me forever,” she added. “Being a Miss RHS contestant has taught me grace, resilience, perseverance and, most importantly, that my worth is not defined by any crown or award.”

The slate of beautiful and talent high school girls were not the only honorees at Friday’s pageant. The RHS Annual Staff honored Lela Wright Ray and Susie Hovater Malone with Miss RHS Lifetime Golden Crown Awards for their decades of dedicated service to the Miss RHS Pageant.

Ray taught art and drama and is the co-founder of the pageant, along with Stan McCarver, who was the Tiger Track and Tiger Paws sponsor. Malone succeeded him, as sponsor of the Annual Staff. Ray and Malone’s pageant experience has helped make them strong champions and supporters of the Miss RHS Pageant all through the years.

The first pageant was held in 1983.

“When Stan left, Susie stepped up and helped the pageant continue and improve over the years,” explained Ray. “We are now celebrating 40 years of encouraging young women not to hide their light but to shine, and shine they have in so many ways.”

“I’m so proud of all these young ladies, seeing how they grow in confidence and ability, and it serves them well wherever they go,” Ray added. “The Miss RHS Pageant will always be near and dear to my heart, and the strong community support it receives is extremely encouraging. I’d like to encourage anyone who has ever participated to consider donating to help make it easier for other girls to be able to participate and have some help in mitigating the cost.”

“I’m so pleased to be honored in this way,” said Malone. “I have had a lot of enjoyment from working on the pageant over the years, and it’s extremely gratifying to see the tradition continue so strongly and evolve along the way.”

In 2017 Dr. AnnaKay Holland and Cindy Coan took up the reins to continue the Miss RHS Pageant tradition. Patrice Burcham Smith and Gary McNutt handle music, lights and sound.

“The girls did a wonderful job with their talents,” said Holland. “We had such a variety this year, and they were so entertaining. Everyone worked really hard and came together to cheer each other on. It was a really special week, and I think the production was outstanding.”

Smith said the girls participating in the pageant are furthering their commitment to the tradition of excellence at RHS.

“It takes courage to put yourself in a position to be judged by strangers in a pageant format, but it’s also putting your talent, poise and spirit on display for a full audience,” Smith said. “They sharpen their interviewing skills and work on poise, grace and learning how to be a successful and independent women. The girls make friendships that will endure and memories to cherish for a lifetime.”

Camille Faith Lynn, daughter of Joshua and Chrissy Lynn, placed as first alternate. She showed off her talent with a vocal performance of “On My Own” from the musical, “Les Misérables.” A senior, she is a member of the varsity volleyball team and Junior Leadership. She is also a member of the RHS Youth Leadership Academy and serves as Health Occupation Students of America project chairperson and Christian Students United outreach chairperson.

Tori Tiffin, daughter of Jason Tiffin and Jennifer and Brian Pace, placed as second alternate. For her talent, she performed an Acro/jazz dance to “My Boyfriend’s Back.” A senior, she is a member and co-captain of the RHS varsity cheerleading squad. She also participates in the RHS Acapella Ensemble and Christian Students United and serves as FCCLA Secretary.

Sophie Hill, daughter of Eric and Tara Hill, placed as third alternate. For her talent, she performed a musical theatre routine to Olivia Newton-John’s “Grease Mix.” A senior, she participates in the RCS Youth Leadership Academy, RCS Stakeholder Council, varsity cheerleading squad and Career Technical Advisory Board. She serves as the president of the cosmetology club.

“I am glad our students have the opportunity to learn important life skills, including teamwork, character building, self-confidence and graciousness, both in winning and losing,” said RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes. “These are lessons that will stick with them even after the dresses, flowers and trophies are just a memory.”

“The Miss RHS pageant has been a positive influence on the lives of the young women who have chosen to participate for 40 years,” added Coan. “I am always amazed at the beauty, poise and talent of all the contestants. They each make me proud, and this year was no exception.

“I am already planning and looking forward to next year.”

Category winners were:

MOST PHOTOGENIC

  1. Freshman winner: Ella Leann Colagross
  2. Sophomore winner: Peyton Leigh Parrish
  3. Junior winner: Silvie Kay Miller
  4. Senior winner: Madeline Elizabeth Cooper

BEST INTERVIEW

  1. Freshman winner: Ella Leann Colagross
  2. Sophomore winner: Kaitlin Hope Speck
  3. Junior winner: Silvie Kay Miller
  4. Senior winner: Madeline Elizabeth Cooper

BEST EVENING GOWN

  1. Freshman winner: Hailey Daniela Rogers
  2. Sophomore winner: Kaitlin Hope Speck
  3. Junior winner: Silvie Kay Miller
  4. Senior winner: Madeline Elizabeth Cooper

TALENT WINNERS

  1. Freshman winner: (TIE) Ella Leann Colagross and Hailey Daniela Rogers
  2. Sophomore winner: Stella Claire Hill
  3. Junior winner: Yadmil Perez Gabriel
  4. Senior winner: Caroline Alise Sparks

HIGHEST GPA

  1. Freshman winner: Ella Leann Colagross
  2. Sophomore winner: Peyton Leigh Parrish
  3. Junior winner: Silvie Kay Miller
  4. Senior winner: Kaitlyn Grace Reed

MISS RHS COURT GRADE REPRESENTATIVES

  1. Freshman: Ella Leann Colagross
  2. Sophomores: Kaitlin Hope Speck and Stella Claire Hill
  3. Junior: Silvie Miller

VIEWERS’ CHOICE WINNER

Lexie Wells

___________________________________________

Past Miss RHS Winners

  • 1983 Elizabeth Ragsdale
  • 1984 Dana Hester
  • 1985 Rhonda Holcomb
  • 1986 Kim Stanley
  • 1987 Denise Smith
  • 1988 Kelly McCullough
  • 1989 Traci Simpson
  • 1990 Susan Hammack
  • 1991 Amanda Ray
  • 1992 Ann Gilliland
  • 1993 Dena Hovater
  • 1994 Dedra Vernon
  • 1995 Jenny Vickery
  • 1996 Loretta Trapp
  • 1997 Olivia Wooten
  • 1998 Jessica Hillman
  • 1999 Brooke Colglazier
  • 2000 Stephanie Terry
  • 2001 Bonnie Clement
  • 2002 Heather Crowder
  • 2003 Mallory Wooten
  • 2004 Brandi Poss
  • 2005 Brittany James
  • 2006 Kelli Wells
  • 2007 Sarah Nichols
  • 2008 Anne-Marie Hall
  • 2009 Loren Sorrells
  • 2010 Paige Bowen
  • 2011 Anna-Claire Burgess
  • 2012 Anna Kathryn Alford
  • 2013 Erin Masterson
  • 2014 Cheyenne Smith
  • 2015 Hannah Prince
  • 2016 Jessica McSpadden
  • 2017 Hailey Peters
  • 2018 Ellie Kerby
  • 2019 Elizabeth Pierce
  • 2020 Sydney Medley
  • 2021 Lauren Mae Sturdivant

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