Crenshaw County’s Laura Lynn Lester says reality finally starting to sink in

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Features Editor

One week ago, Laura Lynn Lester, a 17-year-old senior at Crenshaw Christian Academy was one of 61 eager contestants trying to win the title of Alabama’s Junior Miss.

Just ten days later, she has become the state’s representative to the national competition, which will be held in Mobile, Ala. during the last week of June, but more importantly, she has gone into the history books of Crenshaw County as its first Alabama’s Junior Miss.

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On Monday afternoon, she said reality was starting to settle in.

"When I awoke this morning, it finally started to sink in, but I still can’t believe it," she said. "I feel really honored and undeserving – winning was not the ultimate goal for me, but rather, gaining the experiences of new friendships to last a lifetime."

When the 2002 Alabama Junior Miss was announced Saturday night at the annual scholarship program in Montgomery, Pike County Junior Miss Rachel Jennings was pulling for Laura Lynn Lester.

The two high school seniors have attended St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Troy together since they were 7 years old, so none of the other contestants were as happy as Rachel when Laura’s name was called.

"We went to the state junior miss program knowing each other," Rachel said. "We’ve been in church together all these years and we always talk, but after being at state junior miss together, we’re good friends now. Laura is a wonderful person and I was so happy to see her win. I was really pulling for her and it’s great to have a state junior miss from our area."

Rachel said Laura has a great personality and she thinks the interview portion of the competition was her strong suit.

"She has a great personality and she’ll make a great junior miss for our state," Rachel said.

Rachel had nothing but praise for the junior miss program which has afforded her so many opportunities.

"I thought the state program would be very competitive, but it wasn’t like that at all," she said. "There was no emphasis on winning. Everyone was so friendly and nobody was competitive."

Rachel said the reason for the friendly, non-competitive atmosphere was that, having all won local programs, the girls were all on the same level.

"We all had a great time together and I made a lot of friends," Rachel said. "That’s what everybody seemed to want to do – make friends."

Even with the rather tight rehearsal schedule, Rachel said the contestants still had to make appearances.

"We had lunch at the Cattlemen’s Association and with the Kiwanis Club and the Lions’ Club and we got to meet a lot of people," she said. "We also went to the Montgomery Zoo as a group and that was a lot of fun."

Rachel had nothing, but praise for the Pike County Junior Miss Program.

"Other counties give more money, but our county director had done a great job preparing me for the competition," she said. "We have a great program and I would encourage anyone to participate."

Rachel has six more months to reign as Pike County’s Junior Miss and she plans to take advantage of every opportunity to represent the county and learn more about the people and places that are Pike County.