TMS student named USA National Miss Junior Teen
Published 3:22 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023
By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer
ALABASTER – Rising Thompson Middle School eighth grader Caroline Cook held the hands of another contestant during a pageant as they both waited in anticipation for the announcement of a winner. She was expecting to be first runner up and was caught off guard when she heard her name called first as the new USA National Miss Junior Teen.
“I dropped to the floor,” Caroline said. “I don’t even remember it—I was just so in shock.”
Caroline’s mother, Shannon Cook, recalls watching the final moments of the competition.
“We were so excited when she got called for the top three,” Shannon said. “And then, when it became her and just the other girl there, and they were holding on to each other waiting for the winner to be called—she had been first runner up so any times before—so I was just praying. I was already preparing my heart for that for her. And when she won we were just in such shock.”
What came as a surprise for Caroline and her family was really just the culmination of half of Caroline’s life—having spent time learning the ropes of the pageant industry.
“She has been back and forth with this particular system, USA National Miss, since she was eight years old,” Shannon said.
Caroline’s journey began when she was crowned Miss Heart of Alabaster at seven years old before continuing on to compete on the national level with the support of her parents.
On Caroline’s first time competing on the national level, she got first runner up, then, after joining a new division she placed in the top 16.
“I worked harder and came back the next year in my next division to win, so it was really exciting,” she said.
At just 13 years old, Caroline was crowned USA National Miss Junior Teen at the National Competition—making her the youngest title holder in her division.
Along with the massive title, came a significant reward. Caroline received $10,000 in cash, an all-expense paid cruise to the Bahamas, a 3-year modeling contract walking for designers in NY Fashion Week and more.
During the USA National Miss Junior Teen, Caroline competed alongside state representatives from all across the country.
“It was probably the best group of people that I’ve ever competed with,” Caroline said. “I’ve competed in multiple other systems and multiple age divisions but this has been my very favorite so far because everyone was so kind and supportive and even after I won. It was very surreal to see how supportive the other girls were, even the girls that didn’t come as close to (winning) as everyone else. They were still so supportive and we just made some any bonds throughout the week that I’m so thankful for.”
Caroline and her family are big proponents of the positives of the pageant industry, a topic that is discussed in length on Caroline’s podcast, “Positively Polished.”
“(We’re) trying to debunk the myth of the stigma of the stereotype of pageantry because her experiences have been so positive,” Shannon said. “These are life skills that no one can ever take way from her.”
After coming home to Alabaster with a new crown, Caroline found herself surrounded by some of her biggest supporters, including Glitz and Gowns, along with a few of her favorite Alabaster City Schools staff members.
“They (Glitz and Gowns) hosted a welcome home party and all of her friends came and some of her cheer coaches came and her teaches from Thompson came out to support her and brought gifts—just very excited about her bringing that title home to Alabaster.”
Glitz and Gowns, a local pageantry store, will be the sponsors at the state preliminary pageant that will be held at the Thompson High School performing Arts Center on Jan. 20-21.
“We’re very excited to have it here and be able to make it our own,” Shannon said. “There’s a lot of pageantry in Alabama, so we should have our own and this is the great year to do it when she (Caroline) has the crown.”
Those interested in learning more the USA National Miss program may visit Usanationalmiss.com/alabama or email firstname.lastname@example.org.