Miss Riverton 2011 is crowned
A Riverton High School student who was a victim of bullying and competed on a platform aimed at combating bullies was named Miss Riverton June 11.
Shakelle Valdez, 18, was crowned Miss Riverton 2011 at the Miss Riverton Scholarship Pageant. Valdez, an upcoming Riverton High School senior and former Silverline drill team dance member, received a $2,000 scholarship for college. She performed a lyrical dance in the talent portion of the program.
“It’s almost overwhelming...it’s almost a shock. I was just way excited and surprised. It’s a happy and exciting experience right now,” she said.
Second attendant was Bailee Paxman, 19, and first attendant was Audrey Oakeson, 18, who each received a $500 scholarship for college.
Valdez said her platform, “Courage to be me,” focuses on establishing confidence in young people to fend off bullies. Valdez was the victim of a bully during her junior year of high school when she was harassed by a female classmate through the summer and fall. Valdez didn’t seek help at first but approached her parents and drill team coach about it when things got worse.
“I want to let (victims) know that there are people out there willing to help them and know that they are not alone,” she said. “I chose (this platform) to help others to have the courage to stand up to be themselves no matter what … we want them to be or what anyone else may think of them.”
One of Valdez’s goals as Miss Riverton is to make appearances at schools, dance studios and team clubs to give talks on developing the courage to stand up against bullying.
Valdez would like to attend Southern Utah University after high school to study business and dance education. She said she wants to become a dance teacher.
The contestants in this year’s pageant competed in four categories which included lifestyle and fitness at 15 percent, artistic expression talent at 35 percent, an on-stage interview question at 5 percent and evening wear at 20 percent.
Miss Riverton 2010 Jessica Saunders said she enjoyed the journey she had the past year serving as a role model for Riverton City but is looking forward to the opportunities Valdez will have as Miss Riverton 2011.
“Although it was bittersweet to give the crown away, I’m very excited for Shakelle to have those same experiences (as Miss Riverton) because it literally changed my life,” Saunders said.
Pageant Director Sean Wilson said this year’s pageant had a big turnout, 12 contestants compared to seven the prior year.
“I’ve never had a better group. I can’t even believe it. They are so uplifting of each other and are kind, caring girls,” Wilson said. “We had a couple of injuries and they had to push through that and it was really fun to see the endurance and they were really great examples to each other.”