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Sanders named Pike County Junior Miss

Features Editor

Celeste Sanders doesn’t like to wait for doors to be opened for her. She would rather open them for herself.

Saturday night, no one could open the door she was hoping to enter except her. It was the door of opportunity and it was all up to her.

On the stage of the Claudia Crosby Theater, Sanders’s talent, her experience and her out-going personality opened the door to a promising and exciting experience when she won the title of 2002 Pike County Junior Miss.

Although she had won the talent, fitness, and interview categories of the Pike County Junior Miss Program, Sanders had no idea her name would be called as the winner of the coveted title.

"They had told us that winning a category didn’t mean you had a better chance of winning," Sanders said. "It’s possible to score high in each category and win the title although you didn’t win a category. So, I just had to wait."

Sanders heard the name of the second runner up called. She heard the name of the first runner up called. But, she can’t remember hearing her own name called as the 2002 Pike County Junior Miss.

"I was shaking so hard and I was so excited," she said. "I just couldn’t believe it."

On Monday, the Pike Liberal Arts School senior was still having to pinch herself to make sure it was true.

"This is the most wonderful thing that has happened to me," she said.

What has made the experience even more wonderful is the response Sanders has received from the community.

"Our house looks like a flower garden" she said. "People have been so proud for me and that makes it even better. Every town has wonderful people, but the attitude of the people of Troy and Pike County sets them apart. It’s like we are all family."

Sanders’s home is in Troy and her name might not be familiar to a lot people in the county, but many people know her face.

For 10 years, Sanders was a member of the Dixie Darlings clogging troupe. The cloggers performed all around the county to very appreciative audiences.

"Clogging made me what I am today," Sanders said. "It taught me stage presence, coordination and gave me self-confidence. Through clogging, I made a lot of friends and met a lot of people. And, clogging was my talent for Junior Miss. I really enjoy it and it’s been good for me."

As Pike County Junior Miss, Sanders said she wants to get to learn more about the county she will represent.

"I want to be involved in everything that I can," she said. "I’ll get to meet a lot of people and do a lot of things. It’s going to be exciting and I’m looking forward to being Pike County Junior Miss and I want to be the best one I can be."

Sanders also wants to promote the Junior Miss Program.

"It’s an outstanding program and we need more girls to participate in it," she said. "I would like to visit the schools and talk about the program and all of its benefits."

The benefits of the Junior Miss program are many, including an opportunity to participate in the Alabama Junior Miss Program in Montgomery in January.

"Before I go there, I’m going to take ballet to help me be better prepared," Sanders said. "It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s a great opportunity."

As Pike County Junior Miss, Sanders will be working toward opening other doors for herself, including preparing for college in 2003. She plans to attend Troy State University and pursue a career in either sports medicine or business.

Sanders’s parents are Danny and Debra Sanders of Troy. She has two sisters, Malerie, 15, and Alex, 11.