LaGRANGE — A new young lady will now represent Troup County in the Miss Georgia pageant this June.
Paula Smith, 18, of Atlanta was crowned Miss Troup County on Saturday night inside the auditorium at LaGrange High School.
“I am honestly so excited,” Smith said. “The pageant board of directors are really nice, and it’s going to be a fun year.”
Smith was one of 23 young ladies who participated in the 41st annual Miss Troup County and Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen pageants over the weekend.
Smith is originally from Oklahoma but moved to Georgia to study at the Savannah College of Art and Design campus in Atlanta.
According to Smith’s mom, Dana Carter, the teen was in the top 10 for the Miss Oklahoma pageant last year.
Carter traveled to Troup County and was cheering loudly for her daughter Saturday night.
“I was shaking,” she said. “I brought a selfie stick to take pictures with my phone, but when she won, I was so excited that the stick was shaking.”
Smith sang “All is fair in love,” a ballad by Stevie Wonder for the talent portion of the competition.
She said she takes her new title seriously.
“I look forward to representing Troup County and bringing my platform … using the arts as a different form of self-expression … to all the schools,” said Smith.
Jenna Groom, 14, of Paulding County, is also looking forward to speaking to students.
“My platform focuses on depression and bipolar disorder in teens and erasing the stigma,” she explained.
Groom was also crowned Saturday night as the new Miss Troup County Outstanding Teen.
She said while this was not her first pageant, it was the first title she’s won in a competition.
Groom stated she was shocked when the emcee announced her as the winner.
“I was afraid for a second they were going to pull a ‘Miss Columbia’ (Miss Universe pageant) on me and say I wasn’t the actual winner,” she laughed. “But no one else came forward, so I knew it was me.”
Both girls said they had a great experience preparing for the pageant.
“It was a lot of fun,” stated Groom. “The girls were all very sweet, welcomed me and helped me become a part of the group.”
“It was the most relaxed pageant I’ve been in,” Smith added. “I met a lot of girls … it was a lot of fun.”
Despite a last-minute venue change from the Troup High School Fine Arts Auditorium to LaGrange High School, Judy Neighbors, executive director of the Miss Troup County scholarship pageants said she was pleased with the results.
“It was wonderful,” Neighbors said. “Everything worked out and ran smoothly.”
She said now the girls will start preparing for the state competition this summer, and greet folks in the community.
“They’ll represent us at the Miss Georgia pageant in June,” explained Neighbors. “They’ll be in town to make appearances at civic clubs, and hopefully go into the local schools and talk about their platforms.”
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.