Todd crowned Miss Shelby County 2012

Megan Picklesimer (back) crowns Sydnii Todd Miss Shelby County 2012 on Friday night at Shelby County High School. (Reporter photo/Brad Gaskins)

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Birmingham’s Sydnii Todd was crowned Miss Shelby County 2012 on Friday night.

Todd, a senior broadcast journalism major at Troy University, beat 17 other contestants to win the 24th annual pageant at Shelby County High School.

She was crowned by Miss Shelby County 2011 Megan Picklesimer.

From left: Miss Shelby County 2011 Megan Picklesimer, Miss Shelby County 2012 Sydnii Todd and Miss Alabama Courtney Porter.

Birmingham’s Kelsey Richter was the first runner-up, followed by Trussville’s Meschelle Stringer, Talladega’s Whitney Curtis, who won the talent competition, and Helena’s Amanda Ford.

Stringer received the Sonya Lefkovits Community Service Award in honor of Lefkovits, a longtime community leader who died earlier this year.

From left: Amanda Ford (fourth runner up), Meschelle Stringer (second runner up), Miss Shelby County 2012 Sydnii Todd, Kelsey Ritcher (first runner up) and Whitney Curtis (third runner up and talent winner).

Todd, 21, won the swimsuit competition but said she was strong in all categories, including a private interview with judges, eveningwear, talent and an on-stage interview.

“I didn’t feel like I did bad in one area,” Todd said. “It was even across the board.”

Her confidence comes with experience.

As Miss Shelby County, Todd qualifies for the Miss Alabama pageant, which she’s competed in twice. She previously qualified by winning Miss Magnolia 2010 and Miss Troy University 2011.

Todd is a 2008 graduate of Spain Park High School and said she grew up along U.S. 280.

“The people here are my people,” she said, referring to Shelby County residents. “I know them. I know their personalities. I know the businesses. It’s awesome.”

From left: Sallie Down, a cousin of the late Sonya Lefkovits, and Meschelle Stringer, who was awarded the Sonya Lefkovits Community Service Award.

For the talent competition, Todd performed a contemporary lyrical dance to Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain.”

A dancer for 19 years, she said the talent competition is traditionally her strongest category.

“I can do any type of dance and any style of dance,” Todd said. “It doesn’t matter what type of stage it is, I’m a performer and I love performing. When I get out on the stage it’s like a light bulb clicks, and I just get into the groove of dance.”

For her on-stage interview, Miss Alabama Courtney Porter, mistress of ceremonies, asked Todd if she thought social media outlets hinder or help society.

“Social media outlets are pretty much bittersweet. There can be positives and there can be negatives,” Todd responded. “The negatives are that we lose touch with human emotions, and we can’t read many of the emotions people put in emails or text messages, or even what we put on twitter or facebook.

“But it does help,” Todd continued, “because we’ve put out tons of information at small amounts of time. Lots of people see it, and that’s one of the positives we have for social media.”

As Miss Shelby County, Todd said her platform will be “Cell Phone Sense: texting while driving plus mobile manners.”

“Hopefully one thing that I can do is create an ordinance here and then help push that towards the state level,” she said. “Alabama doesn’t have any state laws against texting and driving, and it is a big issue.”

If there was one person in the auditorium more excited than Todd, it was her mother, Shearrod.

“It is extremely special because I know her heart, and this is something that she wanted to do,” Shearodd Todd said. “It’s very surprising and very humbling.”

Sydnii Todd said she’s looking forward to a third shot at Miss Alabama.

“I’ve got one more notch underneath my belt, and I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “Hopefully at Miss Alabama I can show everybody what I’ve learned.”

Pageant director Pam Oliver praised all the contestants, and said she has confidence in Todd’s ability to serve as an ambassador for Shelby County.

“This is her third year to Miss Alabama, so she’s a pro. I don’t have to worry about her. I think she’ll represent us well. I told her I wanted a Miss Alabama.”