By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN If you could write a fortune cookie, what would it say?
That is one of the questions 2010 Delano High School graduate Carly Shouts answered on her way to being crowned the North Star State Teen in March.
“That was a tough question. I think my heart stopped a little bit,” said Shouts, who answered the question with “don’t take what you have for granted.”
Shouts earned the chance to represent Minnesota in the American Coed Pageant over Thanksgiving in Florida, and certainly isn’t taking what she has for granted.
The state pageant in March was the first pageant Shouts had ever competed in, and she said she decided to try something like this because a cheerleading coach told her about it and sent her information about it.
“I just decided to do it,” Shouts said. “I knew I was going to have to do a lot of extra work because these other girls have been doing it for years. I put in some extra work. I had no idea what to expect. I probably should have done a couple things differently.
She said the pageant event in March was at the Doubletree Suites in Minneapolis, and state events for Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota also happened at the same time and location.
“Friday night was practice night,” Shouts said, when contestants had the opportunity to check out the stage and get used to the format of the competition.
She said optional competitions took place Saturday in areas such as speech, modeling, and talent. She said these were optional competitions and had no bearing on who was crowned queen.
The contestants’ first introduction to the pageant judges came Saturday night, when the evening wear and poise competitions took place.
The final part of the competition interview took place Sunday, and made up two-thirds of the scoring, Shouts added.
“American Coed is less of a beauty pageant and more of a personality kind of thing,” Shouts said. “They look for poise and how you talk in front of the judges.”
She answered questions about role models, charity work, and, of course, that fortune cookie saying.
Shouts has done some work at the Marie Sandvik Center in Minneapolis, and provided an answer about volunteering with a friend handing out clothing and food.
At the end of the competition, Shouts was crowned as the newest North Star State Teen.
“I’m a pretty girly-girl, but I’d never done pageants before,” Shouts said. Between now and the national event in Florida, Shouts said she can basically set her own schedule as far as appearances and things of that nature.
She attended the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce Expo April 9, and also was a recent guest of the General Federated Women’s Club in Delano. She’s also looking forward to the Fourth of July in Delano and the Minnesota State Fair. In addition, she had a meeting scheduled with Governor Mark Dayton.
She said representing the state in this position is a big opportunity and something she is looking forward to experiencing. She will be competing in academic achievement, talent, interview, and evening wear.
“I would love for a northern state to win nationals because, a lot of the time, it is dominated by the southern states because pageants are so much more part of their culture down there,” Shouts said “A lot more girls do it down there and have a lot more experience. I kind of chose what will be most like me and the most fun. Even if I don’t win, I’ll still have fun.”
One of the main reasons Shouts said she wanted to compete in this pageant program was to work on her public speaking skills.
“I’m going to college to be a teacher and I’m trying to work on public speaking putting yourself out there and being able to relate to people you just met,” she said. “It’s a little nerve-wracking to stand on that stage and bare your soul to the judges, but it helped a lot, I think.”
Something Shouts wishes she had done to prepare her for this experience would have been to participate in the Delano Ambassador program.
“I was going to do it last year, then, at the last second, things were crazy with graduation, and I just decided not to do it,” Shouts said. “I really wish I had. It probably would have given me a little extra push in this pageant.”
Before she graduated from Delano High School, Shouts was involved in cheerleading, gymnastics when she was younger, and choir for all four years of her high school career. She also enjoys reading and music.
Her father, Jerry, works as a math teacher at Delano High School, and her mother, Cheri, works in the high school office.
“My whole family is kind of centered around the school,” she said, adding that, overall, it was nice having her parents around at school; for example if she forgot to get a form signed. She also worked as a student aide her senior year for her mother.
“I always told my parents I was never going to be a teacher, and now I’m going to college to be a teacher,” she said with a laugh.
In addition to her parents working in an educational environment, two of her aunts and one of her uncles are also teachers.
Shouts is enrolled at the University of Minnesota and has plans for next year to go to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ.
“I love warm weather, but I also really like Minnesota, so it’s kind of hard for me to leave, especially since I’ve lived here my whole life,” Shouts said. “So I’ll be going from Arizona to Florida to represent Minnesota.”
Shouts’ brother also attends college in Arizona, and she has extended family there, as well.
“It’s not going to be so hard of a transition,” she said.
Throughout the summer months, Shouts is going to be practicing for her upcoming pageant in Florida, making the move to Arizona, and coaching cheerleading.
She also has some fundraising ahead of her for the pageant, and is seeking sponsorships in her quest to become Miss American Teen. If anyone is interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities, contact Shouts at (763) 972-9614.
“It’s a little scary, but kind of cool to see that crown and know I actually won that,” she said.
For more information, look for a link on the DHJ homepage, www.delanoheraldjournal.com.