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Experience helps Miss Fort Larned
Courtney Towery is winner
Courtesy Photo Courtney Towery, Miss Fort Fort Larned 2011 (left) shares a moment with Bethany Skelton, Miss Fort Larned director.

LARNED – Participating in Miss Fort Larned for Courtney Towery was similar to her work in Big Brothers Big Sisters.
After initial apprehension, she discovered the reward of being involved is well worth the risk of trying something new.
Towery cried tears of joy and relief after being named Miss Fort Larned 2011 Sunday at the Larned Community Center. She’s eligible to compete in the 2012 Miss Kansas Pageant. 
“I cried when I won,” she said. “This is definitely my highest achievement. It’s a big sigh of relief that it’s over and you’re proud of yourself for all the hard work. After last year, I knew what I wanted.”
Tylisha Calkins earned first runner-up. Nicole Gabel was second runner-up. Tristen Galiart was third runner-up. Calkins was voted Most Talented and Miss Congeniality. Gabel had the Best Resume and Most Ticket Sales. The teenagers shared in more than $6,000 in scholarships from Barton Community College and Fort Scott Community College.
Towery entered Miss Fort Larned last year, not really knowing what to expect. She lacked confidence in herself and was nervous because she wasn’t prepared for the attention to detail the pageant requires.
“It was nerve wracking and I wasn’t sure of myself,” she said. ‘I had to work really hard. But I learned a lot.”
Just getting through the 2010 pageant helped her develop self-confidence, and she gained respect for jumping out of her comfort zone.
This year, she started to work on the fine points of competing and would rehearse, answering possible questions in front of a mirror.
“I knew how to better prepare myself and put myself in situations so I knew how to act,” she said. “I practiced talking and smiling and how I presented myself in front of an audience. This time, I came in with more confidence.”
She’s developed her talent for singing, but was still nervous while performing “A Thousand Miles.”
Her favorite part was the evening gown presentation.
“You’ve wearing your favorite dress, your hair is done perfect and you get to smile and wave to the audience,” she said. “It’s at that moment that you realize it’s all worth it because everyone’s there for you.”
Her experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters has a similar happy ending. Her involvement started as a way to get out of school. She soon realized she could make a positive difference in a youngster’s life.
“We made a connection and have become best friends,” she said. “I realized it was a program that I wanted to be involved in. I like the fact I can help someone else out.”
She will represent Miss Fort Larned in public events, starting with Pawnee County Relay for Life. Her public platform will focus on the risk of texting while driving, which is prohibited by state law for teenagers. She will address the topic in area schools during her senior year. Her future plans include studying psychiatry in college.
The 2012 Miss Fort Larned Pageant is offering invitations to teenagers in Pawnee, Barton and Stafford counties for seniors and high school graduates.
For information, contact Bethany Skelton at (620) 285-6543 or e-mail