By Jill Fox
Parkland resident Bailey Sheridan, 10, earned the prestigious 2020 National American Miss Florida Junior Pre-teen title at the August 22 pageant.
Although this may be a new title, it wasn’t Bailey’s first experience with the event. In 2017, she competed in the princess division (four to six-year-olds) and won both the state and the national title.
“I was really excited to compete again,” said Bailey, “I knew what a great year it was when I won, and I was looking forward to being with my new “nam-ily” — meaning her National American Miss pageant family.
The competition, which took place at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, included young ladies from all over the state. Their program is based on inner beauty, as well as poise and presentation.
“This is not toddlers in tiaras; it’s not what you think,” said Bailey’s mother, Mandy, who explained that the girls are not allowed to wear any makeup whatsoever.
Each seven to ten-year-old is required to submit their GPA and extracurricular activities. In addition to an interview and an evening gown portion, the girls are also expected to do a personal introduction and a community service project.
For Bailey’s project, she collected and donated school supplies for homeless teens at the Covenant House in Fort Lauderdale.
According to its website, National American Miss is dedicated to developing young women’s success with a program designed to be age-appropriate and family-oriented.
“It really teaches the girls’ life skills, like how to interview, write a resume, and the importance of community service,” said Mandy.
In addition to winning $1,000 cash, which goes right into Bailey’s college account, she also won a $350 scholarship to pay for her trip to the national competition over Thanksgiving week. There, she will represent Florida and compete against 49 other girls for the national title and over $5,000 in cash and prizes.
Mandy, who is familiar with the local pageant circuit, said COVID-19 had impacted the pageantry world a lot, but National American Miss is doing a really great job.
“They prepared us ahead of time with their safety measures, like sanitizing and social distancing,” she said, “It wasn’t an option, we had to abide by the rules.”
The girls had to wear masks and remain socially distanced the whole time, and there was plexiglass between Bailey and the judges during her interview.
“We were sitting at either end of a six-foot table,” said Bailey, “I felt very safe, and it smelled like disinfectant.”
Normally about a hundred girls compete in each division, but this time due to the pandemic, the numbers were down.
Mandy said, “Most of all, it gives the kids something to look forward to while they’re stuck at home.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.