Take a look at Noelle Jenkins and youâ€™ll see the makings of a typical pageant queen â€“ looks, poise, alarmingly perfect teeth. Scratch below the surface, however, and youâ€™ll find a girl who isnâ€™t afraid to muck out a horse stable.
â€œIâ€™m the kid that gets out there and gets dirty,â€ said the West Lincoln High School freshman. â€œI donâ€™t care and I can clean right up.â€
In fact, if Noelle wasnâ€™t participating in the Miss Teen North Carolina pageant this weekend, her family would have planned the weekend for her.
â€œIf she wasnâ€™t doing this pageant, she would be home hauling hay,â€ said her mother, Robin Jenkins.
That said, neither Noelle nor her mother would miss this pageant for the world.
The pair attended last year and Noelle left with the resolution to spend the next 365 days preparing. â€œMamma, Iâ€™m going to win this pageant,â€ she said.
Many crunches, leg lifts and cross country runs later, she feels prepared.
Her mother thinks sheâ€™ll place in the top five. Noelle will take nothing less than first place.
Although the Miss Teen North Carolina Pageant is her biggest pageant yet, it certainly isnâ€™t her first.
At the tender age of 7 she won the title of Miss Lincoln County. From there, she went on to participate in other regional pageants. Currently she holds the titles Young Miss Denver, Young Miss Carolina Piedmont and Teen Miss Cherryville.
â€œThis isnâ€™t my first rodeo,â€ she said of the Miss Teen North Carolina Pageant.
Backing up Noelle is her mother and her teacher, Kelly Davis, who has experienced the pageant first hand.
Davis offered Noelle a bit of advice, which Noelle plans to take to heart.
â€œStay focused,â€ she said. â€œThat was her number one thing to do.â€
Noelleâ€™s mother, who is the former owner of Simply Elegant and has witnessed the pageant circuit for years, is also full of helpful suggestions.
â€œShe listens,â€ said Robin. â€œShe does what I tell her as far as preparing.â€
In addition to working out in preparation for the pageant, Noelle has practiced interviews, modeling, posing and walking in heels.
Finding gowns and applying makeup are the sort of things that come naturally to her. In fact, one of the reasons Noelle loved pageants as a child was the fact they allowed her to wear makeup.
Nowadays, she has a different incentive â€“ scholarship money.
â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™re working towards and what we need desperately,â€ said Robin.
The following individuals and agencies provided financial aid to Noelle: Dr. Donald Bias, Gisela Zink, Peoples Bank West Branch, Bob Baker of Town Square Ford, Stroupe Jewlers, The Tannery, JoAnn and Bud Riffle, First Federal Savings and Loan, Momaw and Papaw Jenkins. Papaw and Mamaw Weiss, Grandmother Weiss, Darlene and Natalie Combs, Rusty and Company and Libby Cagle.
by Sarah Grano