- Associated Press - Sunday, January 25, 2015

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. (AP) - Nine Jefferson High School students were given the star treatment by their peers at the third annual Miss Extraordinary Special Needs Pageant.

Emily Matlock, a Jefferson High School senior, has organized the pageants for the past three years.

Matlock is a participant in the Miss Jefferson County scholarship program, and her pageant platform is working with youth and teens with special needs.

“Once I started it, I couldn’t stop,” Matlock said. “I wanted to make each show bigger than the one before. That way, it’s more fun for the people in it and the people watching.”

Jefferson High School’s Charisma dance team opened the Jan. 17 pageant with a performance.

Each member of the dance team was paired as a “buddy” with one of the contestants, escorting them on and off stage and dancing with them during the talent portion of the evening.

The contestants, who ranged in age from 12 years old to 19 years old, were introduced one-by-one to the judges and the audience.

Matlock, who emceed the pageant, read each contestant’s name, age, grade, favorite food, hobbies and a special talent.

The contestants and their buddies then danced to “The Electric Slide” and “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.

While the judges deliberated, Jefferson High School student Lucia Valentine sang “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five, which Matlock said summarized the friendships formed by participants in the Miss Extraordinary pageant.

Although Matlock will be graduating at the end of the school year, she said she has made plans to keep the pageant going after she leaves Jefferson.

“This is not the end of the pageant, I have plans to keep it going,” she said. “My dance director Christa Crawford will take over while I’m at college.”

All contestants were crowned as winners at the close of the pageant, and friends and family rushed the stage, snapping photos of their stars and giving them flowers.

“The friendship the pageant builds is important,” Matlock said. “Working with the special needs students, I see them every day and they greet their fellow students. They don’t give up, and I hope that I’ve helped them learn they can do anything.”


Information from: The Journal, https://journal-news.net/

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