LINCOLNTON – An exciting group of young women have been practicing for weeks in preparation for the 44thannual Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Scholarship Pageant. Yes, it’s a pageant and for some it’s that dreaded P word. There’s no question that this group of young women is beautiful. In addition to their beauty, however, they’ll be bringing to the stage on Aug. 6 confidence, intelligence and a strong sense of social justice. They want to change the world.

Take Brogan Heavner, a 2021 graduate of West Lincoln High School now attending Mars Hill University studying criminal justice with the intention of becoming a lawyer. 

“One of my parents is falsely incarcerated,” she said. “Since he was taken away from my life, I’ve always vowed that I’d go into the criminal justice field and try to fix what’s wrong and make my impact on the criminal justice field.”

If she wins, Heavner plans to work with homeless veterans for her platform.

“I also come from a military family so seeing those people who have served our country and then live on the streets really breaks my heart,” she said. “Homeless people break my heart anyway but know that there are veterans out there is hard for me.”

Prior to entering the pageant, Heavner had some difficulty with interviews. The practice that the girls have gone through has helped her tremendously. Now she can “talk to anybody.”

Four of the entries for the 2022 competition are from Lincoln Charter School, the most that have ever entered, according to Pageant Director Erica Miller.

Camilla Cevallos, a rising senior at Lincoln Charter School, decided to enter the pageant to try something new. After graduation, Cevallos plans to go to college to study psychology. If she won, she plans to use mental health as her platform.

“I think it’s really important and not really talked about,” she said. “I want to shine some light on it and create more resources within our town for not only youth, but adults as well. Somewhere that they can go and talk.”

Cevallos has always known about the Apple Pageant and decided to enter this year because she wanted to meet new people and make new memories. Confidence is something that she hopes to gain by competing.

A rising senior attending West Lincoln High School, Sierra Church thought competing in the pageant would be a way for her to get out of her shell and step outside of her comfort zone. A gymnast, Church plans to attend college to become a physical trainer or therapist.

“It’s been easier than I thought it would be,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends. Everyone’s been so nice.”

If she wins, Church plans to use the platform of physical fitness awareness.

“I want to educate more people on how it can help with mental and physical health, especially if started younger,” she said. 

Four contestants are from West Lincoln High School.

An apprentice last year, Madilynne Burgin will be going into her senior year at Lincolnton High School in August. Burgin has competed in pageants her whole life, so this is something that she’s comfortable with.

“I think having been an apprentice has helped me with the flow of things,” she said. “It’s all relatively the same every year. In entering pageants, I like to show people that it’s not what they usually think. A lot of people call me a pageant girl, which I am, but I do a whole lot of other things.”

Upon graduation, Burgin plans to study social work in college. If she wins, her platform will be called “KIDS” or kids in difficult situations.

“It’s all about bringing life to kids’ voices and really understanding what they’re going through,” she said. “I have witnessed multiple cases of where children have been taken out of the foster care system. The family just decided they weren’t a match, so they got sent back. I feel like that’s really hard on a kid.”

Four contestants are from Lincolnton High School. One contestant this year is homeschooled and five come from North Lincoln High School. There are no entries from East Lincoln High School this year.

The 18 contestants will compete for over $8,000 in scholarship money this year. The theme is a night in the Big Apple. 

“Lots of businesses have helped us out this year,” Megan Schrum Recore, pageant chair said. “The whole point of this is to award scholarships with the hope that they’ll use the money to get an education and then come back to Lincoln County and help it thrive. I think this is one of the strongest groups we’ve ever had. It’s going to be hard on the judges.”

The pageant will be held on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. at the James W. Warren Citizen’s Center in Lincolnton. Doors open at 5:30 and the pageant starts at 6. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, five and under free. Tickets are available at the door, or directly from contestants.

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