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Beauty inside and out

Shryock to compete in Miss Iowa Outstanding Teen contest this week

June 11, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer (apeterson@esthervillenews.net) , Estherville News

Riley Shryock won Miss Scott County on the eastern coast of Iowa, and will compete Friday against 14 other girls for Miss Iowa Outstanding Teen at the Adler Theatre in Davenport. Should she win that title, she will be on her way to Orlando, Fla., to compete for Miss America Outstanding Teen, the high school version of the storied Miss America pageant.

"It's not a beauty contest," Shyrock, the daughter of Teresa Gregory and Jason Shryock, said.

There's a staggering list of accomplishments a contestant must meet to even get on stage.

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First, each contestant must raise at least $250 for the Children's Miracle Network, a charity the Miss America organization has supported for years.

Then it's time for the beautiful evening gown, right? Not so fast.

Each contestant must have a platform, a cause for which she crusades.

Shyrock chose Child Abuse Education Awareness.

"I tell kids what abuse is and how to get help if they are abused," Shryock said. She hopes to present to schools, community groups, clubs, and other places kids can be found who may be hiding their abuse below the surface.

It's a cause that hits close to home for Shryock, who is a survivor and was a witness to abuse in the past, by individuals whom she says are no longer in her life.

"I don't want to see any other child get hurt, and I'm trying to prevent it by educating kids," Shryock said.

Each contestant must also have a talent. Shyrock's is dance. Her talent has been seen on the Estherville Lincoln Central High School Dance Team and in many performances at L'ecole la Danse in Estherville. Shryock said she would perform a clog dance routine in competition.

Shryock's pageant story began when she was five or six years old at the Little Miss Shamrock competition in Emmetsburg.

"I've loved it ever since. I love meeting different girls in the pageants," Shryock said.

Shryock moved up with prizes in the Little Miss and Junior Miss pageants through the Kossuth-Winnebago county organization, and then that pageant disbanded.

This year, it was a five-hour drive each way to compete in Scott County.

She won.

Shryock wasn't always outgoing.

"I was really shy. My mom would ask me, 'how can you dance in front of thousands of people with no problem, but not speak in front of anyone?' I gained confidence and speaking ability through the pageants," Shryock said.

There's no swimsuit competition at the teen level. As of this week, the Miss America organization has eliminated the swimsuit and the evening gown portions of its competition as well; it's no longer a pageant but a scholarship competition.

At the teen level, there is a fitness competition, consisting of push-ups and sit-ups to determine each contestant's level of fitness. There's also an interview portion and on-stage questions, as well as the evening gown and talent segments.

"They give thousands of dollars in scholarships," Shyrock said. The 16-year-old rising junior at ELC said she aspires to be an elementary school teacher because she loves working with children.

At L'Ecole la danse, Shryock worked with young students, helping them with their dances. This helped solidify her aspiration to work with children, and to be an activist on their behalf through her Child Abuse Education Awareness platform.

"I just love the whole experience of pageants. It's something I can say I have done being from a small town like Estherville," Shryock said.

Shryock said she is grateful to her sponsors.

The pageant could become a family affair during Princess Camp.

"Little girls come to camp, each one with a teen, to experience the Miss America program," Shryock said.

Her princess is her sister, Charlee Dalen, 7.

"Charlee is excited to have a crown and sash," Shryock said.

"People see it as a beauty contest. They don't see the behind-the-scenes work of raising money for Children's Miracle Network, volunteer work, developing a platform that goes into being in a pageant," Shryock said.

Shyock said, "I'm kind of glad [the Miss America organization] got rid of the swimsuit competition, because they only see the winner as the skinniest girl or the cutest girl, and not as a whole person."

Are pageants fun?

"Competing is really fun. I'm always experiencing something new, but meeting other girls is still the best part," Shryock said.

Shryock has advice for girls who might be interested in pageants but hesitant to actually enter.

"Don't hesitate. Just do it. You won't regret it. You'll get more confident, be better at communication, and form lasting relationships," Shryock said.

"Competing in pageants will help me in life in the long run," Shryock said.

Shryock leaves Tuesday for rehearsals through the week until the Miss Outstanding Teen Iowa competition Friday.

 
 
 

 

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