The Sun News

Houston County volunteer is real queen of school pageant

WARNER ROBINS — For the past 15 years, the jewel in the crown of Miss Houston County High School has been Edith Wilkins.

Wilkins was asked to direct the school’s pageant, which is a fundraiser for the band program, in the mid-1990s.

Since then, she has volunteered yearly, taking care of every aspect of the pageant.

“She starts as soon as one pageant is over and works tirelessly doing about 900 things until the next pageant,” said Elaine Hollis-Pritchard, another pageant volunteer.

Hollis-Pritchard said Wilkins takes care of every aspect of planning the pageant.

“She takes care of all the paperwork, finds Miss Georgia certified judges, works the timeline of the pageant, the rehearsals, the decorations, everything,” she said.

And Wilkins’ volunteerism is extended to the actual participants as well.

“She spends a lot of time critiquing the girls, their strengths and their weaknesses, and does it in a very lovingly way,” Hollis-Pritchard said. “She wants them to do their best and to feel like they have done their best, and she helps them so much, not only with the pageant but with skills that they will use interviewing for college and jobs later on.”

Logan Kemper, the 2005 Miss Houston County High, said a large part of her success was due to Wilkins.

“She was such a supporter, not only of the pageant but all of the girls. She meant a lot to all the girls,” she said.

Kemper said Wilkins’ goal was not to create a winner but to make sure every girl did her very best.

“She helped us in every way. She wanted us to strive for the top, and she wanted to make sure we had every opportunity,” Kemper said.

To ensure each girl is prepared to do her best during the pageant, Wilkins works with them on their biography cards that are given to the judges, their dress choices and mock interviews to help the girls practice for the interview preliminary.

Her work is important, not only to the young women who are competing in the pageant but to the band program, which has raised thousands of dollars over the years through the Miss Houston County High pageant.

Band director Wally Shaw originally approached Wilkins because of her experience as the mother of a contestant, Neysa Wilkins, a former Miss Warner Robins.

“I knew we needed someone that knew about the pageant business,” Shaw said. “She had been a band mom and graciously volunteered her time.”

Shaw said he couldn’t imagine doing the pageant without Wilkins, who he refers to as “Miss Edith.”

“She runs the entire thing, and I know that every year it is going to be a class act,” he said. “She has high standards, and she ensures that the girls in the pageant measure up to those standards from the style of gowns they wear to the lyrics of the songs they sing.”

As for Wilkins, her reasons for her volunteerism at Houston County High have to do with the pageant results.

“I feel like I am really contributing — to these young ladies and to a worthy cause, the band,” she said. “Both groups work hard, preparing for their future, and I feel like I am a little part of helping them to prepare for that future.”

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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