• 77°

Stapp returns home from Alabama’s Junior Miss

Demopolis High School senior Hillary Stapp was one of 53 contestants taking part in the 2009 Alabama’s Junior Miss program in Montgomery on Friday and Saturday.

Kathryn Tully of Jefferson County will represent Alabama in the America’s Junior Miss program in Mobile in June, and although Stapp didn’t win, she still said the experience is one that will last her lifetime.

“It was kind of scary, because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “All of the girls were very nice — I never met a mean one!”

Stapp stayed with the Holcomb family in Montgomery, who served as her host family during the program. The Holcombs have volunteered as a host family for Alabama’s Junior Miss for the last 13 years.

“She is an amazing young lady,” said Tammy Holcomb.

“We didn’t spend much time with her during the day,” Jimmy Holcomb said, “but at night, we would watch a movie and have some snacks.”

“It was great,” Stapp said. “They were so sweet, and they took care of everything we needed.”

On Friday, the first day of the program, Stapp performed her talent, playing Scott Joplin’s “Old Time Rag” on the piano. The next day would be much busier, with many more activities going on.

“We had to do the fitness and self-expression routines,” she said. “We practiced those over and over, to make sure we had them down perfectly. Then, by the time the show got there, the time passed by so quickly! It was very overwhelming when you came out on the stage for the opening number, and you heard everybody yelling and cheering for you.”

Stapp said her family and several of her friends were on hand for the program.

“I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them yelling from the crowd!” she laughed.

As the program progressed, the first round of cuts brought the field from 53 contestants to eight, quickly eliminating 85 percent of the contestants. Stapp was not among the top eight, but still had a great experience.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I met a lot of great girls. I was just talking with my roommate on Facebook, and we were saying, ‘I feel like we’re missing a part of us!’ We became like sisters; it was sad to leave her.”

Stapp roomed with Alaina Arnold of Escambia County.

Next year, Stapp will hand her Marengo County’s Junior Miss crown to a new winner, just as Catie Cole did to her on Oct. 25. What advice will she hand down to Marengo County’s next representative to the 2010 Alabama’s Junior Miss?

“I would just tell them to be as prepared as they can for the interview,” she said. “Also, they need to catch up on their current events, because they did ask a lot about that. They need to go into it with a good attitude. Don’t go into it just wanting to win; just go in there for the experience. That will make it so much better. It will give you so much more of a chance to have fun and meet great girls, because that’s what it’s all about, not just winning. That would be nice, of course, but it was still a great experience.”