Adkins, a senior at Moody High School, left Friday headed to Montgomery, where she will stay until Jan. 15. The day before, classmates and teachers gave her a going-away party.
Each of the 54 contestants will compete for over $40,000 in cash tuition scholarships and $2.5 million in college-granted scholarships.
The final competitions will take place Jan. 14 and 15 at Frazier United Methodist Church, Wesley Hall in Montgomery.
Adkins is the 18-year-old daughter of Ronnie and Melissa Adkins of Moody. She has a younger sister, Anna Caroline Adkins, 13.
Adkins is the reigning 2011 St. Clair County Junior Miss. She won the local Junior Miss June 5, 2010 and said her year since then has been so great.
“It has been a wonderful experience and a blessing,” Adkins said. “Because of Jr. Miss, I’m going to be able to go to college for free basically because I have a four-year full ride with Jr. Miss at the University of North Alabama where I will be attending in the fall.”
Adkins plans on majoring in communications, specifically broadcast journalism.
During her reign as Junior Miss, Adkins said this week at state competition is the one week she has been looking forward to for many weeks.
“I know it is going to be so much fun,” Adkins said. “One thing I really loved was the day I had the opportunity to read to students at Ashville Elementary School. They were really cute and sweet.”
During the past year, Adkins was also guest speaker at the Moody Chamber of Commerce meeting, the Pell City Rotary Club and the St. Clair County Teacher Institute Day. Adkins was also a participant in the Moody Christmas Parade and Pell City Christmas Parade.
Although she will be away from her family for nine consecutive days, Adkins is excited about competing at the state level. Her host family she will be staying with is Michael and Lisa Jones of Montgomery. Her roommate is Kendall Garrett, the Monroe County Junior Miss.
“I met Kendall at Jr. Miss orientation Dec. 4,” Adkins said. “We’ve talked some on Facebook, we swapped Christmas cards and shared pictures of our families. We are both very excited.”
Melissa said the past year has been amazing for Elise.
“She has worked very hard and we are so proud of her,” said Melissa Adkins. “Whatever happens at state, it is going to be great. She is a great kid and has a wonderful heart. I’m happy people see her heart when they talk to her and meet her.”
Ronnie said from a dad’s point of view and not knowing that much about Junior Miss, he is very thankful for the scholarship program, because it helps encourage and strengthen young ladies in their gifts and skills.
“It helps them to become distinguished young women,” Mr. Adkins said. “I have been real impressed with our county program and all the people who put it together. I am also real impressed on the state level and how they are committed in the developing and equipping of young women throughout Alabama.
“I’m extremely proud of Elise. Beyond Junior Miss, I’m very proud of the young lady she has become. I am thankful to Junior Miss for the changes and growing I have seen in Elise. That is really neat. The scholarship benefit is just icing on the cake.
“As a person of faith, I see it as God just taking care of all that.”
Adkins’ grandmother, Nancy Myers, said for Elise to compete at the state level is such an educational opportunity.
“An opportunity not only for the scholarship money, but meeting so many new friends,” Myers said. “I have told her to keep a journal to pass on to her grandchildren — I am keeping one for her.
“To say I am proud of her is an understatement. To me, she is already a winner in my eyes.”
Carol Hornsby, chairman of the St. Clair County Junior Miss Scholarship Program, said Elise is simply beaming with anticipation for the state scholarship competition.
“She has diligently worked for this achievement for many years, and it is a highlight of her senior year,” Hornsby said. “The national platform of America’s Jr. Miss is ‘Be Your Best Self’ and Elise exemplifies that attitude every day. We wish her all the best and are praying for her success while she is in Montgomery.”
Moody High School assistant principal Robert Smith said on behalf of the faculty, staff and administration, they wish Adkins the very best of luck.
“We want her to know that she will be in our thoughts and prayers,” Smith said. “We look forward to seeing her when she returns.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.