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Queens visit schools

Apple Queen 2003 Autumn Stokes (left) looks on as Young Miss North Carolina Elaine Gregory talks to her classmates at Lincolnton Middle School about pageants.
Jenny Walling / Lincoln Times-News

Local royalty visited Lincolnton Middle School on Friday wearing heels and tiaras and emanating smells of perfume in the hallways.

“You’re supposed to bow when you see the queen,” said Bonnie Bumgarner, a bookkeeper, to a student who had accidentally come upon the two beauty queens.
Autumn Stokes, Lincolnton’s Apple Queen, and Elaine Gregory, Young Miss North Carolina, both visited Lincolnton Middle School, Pumpkin Center Middle School and West Lincoln Middle School.
Elaine, who is currently a student at Lincolnton Middle, wore a blue pant suit and her crown for the occasion.
“The crown’s heavier than my head,” she said.
It took numerous bobby pins and barretts to keep the crown firmly in place.
“They put men on the moon, we ought to be able to put a crown on without much trouble,” said Dee Duprey, one of the Apple Queen Pageant organizers who escorted the two beauty queens.
Because of their footwear, they had to take an alternate route to their speaking area to avoid a gravel path.
The two girls stood with perfect posture in blue suits and heels in front of a group of students who listened to them discuss their competitions.
Both Autumn and Elaine had been interviewed by judges and participated in evening gown and swimsuit competitions.
They also told the students that more came with winning their titles than a pretty tiara and a sash.
“This year has been very busy for me,” said Elaine. “We do a lot of things.”
The two girls have visited nursing homes, veteran homes and ridden in parades. Some of the students may have recognized Autumn from the Apple Festival.
“I was passing out apples this year,” she said.
When Duprey asked the students if any of them wanted to become involved in pageants, Pamela Cortes piped up.
“When I lose some weight,” she said.
Duprey told Pamela she shouldn’t be obsessed with her weight. Instead, she should make sure to walk everyday and eat healthy.
“All of them are so skinny,” said Pamela. “All of the stuff they do is so cool. I want to be that. I want to be like them.”
Even some of the sixth-grade boys seemed a little enchanted with the pageant winners.
“They’ve got pretty eyes,” said Justin Hazelwood, a student. “I like that they’re representing North Carolina, and that they’re going to show that North Carolina is one of the best states.”
Both Autumn and Elaine reminded their audiences that it takes a lot more than a pretty face to win a pageant.
“In pageants they don’t only judge you for your beauty, they judge you for who you really are,” said Elaine.
Elaine’s assistant principal, Ted Shiver, had nothing but praise for the student.
“She’s a true role model for these kids,” Shiver said. “She is as down to earth as they come.”
Staff Writer Sarah Grano can be reached at 704-735-3031 or sgrano@ltnews.com by Sarah Grano

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