Clarendon County participates, along with the rest of the state, in the Miss America pageant circuit, and this weekend, the County pageant was held.
Anna Bench was crowned as 2019 Miss Clarendon. Having only participated in two smaller pageants for the Manning school system, this was her first large circuit pageant.
“It turned out to be a lot more of a success than I expected,” said Branch. “It was very shocking to me.”
Her platform is “Dance for those who can’t,” a derivative of the “Monarchs Making Miracles” organization, which Bench works with. The organization put on a dance marathon in honor of Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, which funds the Child Life Center. Bench discussed dancing to raise money for the ones who cannot dance for themselves.
Bench is a senior at Manning High School and plans to pursue a degree in business management, with a possible minor in visual communication.
“I am a massive Clemson fan but am headstrong in my decision on attending the University of South Carolina, Columbia. The athletic department may not be my favorite, but I love the school itself,” said Bench.
Bench will move to the State level of competition in late June, where her talent and evening gown will remain the same. Bench danced for her talent, performing a jazz routine to “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé.
Rosalie Summerlin was crowned as 2019 Miss Clarendon Teen. She is a junior at Palmetto High School in Williamston.
“My grandparents live near Clarendon County. In that area, there is more poverty than in the upstate, and my platform centers around poverty. It’s about informing girls about education after high school and providing them with free evening gowns for pageants and proms. So that’s really where my heart is,” said Summerlin.
Summerlin enjoys traveling and will happily attend events in Clarendon County as part of her title’s duties. She is happy to have brought her platform to the area, as her goal is to expand it across the state.
Summerlin plans to attend Clemson University to major in nursing. She wants to work in an ICU for two years, then attend MUSC to obtain a doctorate of nursing and anesthesia.
Summerlin will move on to Miss South Carolina Teen in late June, and her talent will remain the same. For her talent, Summerlin played guitar and sang a Christina Aguilera song. She enjoys playing singer/songwriter songs or any song she can convert to acoustic style.
Carrie Trebil, the local executive director for the Clarendon County pageant, states the pageant has always been an open pageant, so any South Carolina girl can compete here.
“We did that so other girls can come and learn and possibly tell others how wonderful Clarendon County is,” said Trebil.
This year’s competition had eight entrants for Miss Clarendon and six entrants for Miss Clarendon Teen. This year’s two top winners will compete at Township Auditorium in Columbia this summer, reaching for the South Carolina titles with hopes to travel to the national competitions.
As Summerlin has won, her entry fees to participate in the South Carolina competition will be paid.
Bench was awarded a $500 scholarship. Her entry fees for the competitions are based on how much donation money she receives for the Children’s Miracle Network, the national charity for the Miss America circuit.
For Bench to compete for the title of Miss Clarendon, she had $100 in donations to the charity. For her competition at the state level, she must have $250 in donations. Further donations will be required should she be chosen to proceed to the state level.
“A Miss Manning went on to win Miss South Carolina and win Miss America 1957,” said Trebil. She further states Kimberly Akin was the only other Miss South Carolina to win Miss America in 1992. She is hopeful the Clarendon County winners can bring home another state and national win this year.
Other awards at the event included Miss Clarendon Teen First Runner Up Keirsten Hopkins, Teen Talent winner Rosalie Summerlin, Teen Evening Gown winner Rosalie Summerlin, Miss Clarendon First Runner Up Haley Albright, Miss Clarendon Talent winner Anna Bench, Miss Swimsuit winner Brittney Evans, Miss Congeniality Brittney Evans and People’s Choice winner Hailey Heer.