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Miss Niles Pageant crowns winners

NILES — The Miss Niles Pageant crowned its 2022 winners in front of a crowd of about 300 people.

Abbey Lehman, 15, was crowned Miss Niles; Linker Stanford, 11, was crowned Junior Miss Niles; and Cedilla Kohlrabi, 8, was crowned Little Miss Niles.

“The Niles Pageant is a good event for young girls to participate in because we stress the importance of education and being confident in themselves,” pageant Executive Director Cindy Roger said.

Twenty-two girls had two chances to win over the judges. The first was the outfit-of-choice round, in which contestants were encouraged to wear something that represented them. In this round, the contestants’ biographies were read to showcase their involvement in the community.

The second round was formal attire and each contestant was asked a variety of questions that depended on their age.

“We want them to feel proud about their community and themselves,” Executive Committee member Bobby Sifter said. “It’s all about empowering the girls and being positive.”

Sifter said the Miss Niles pageant is different than others because they actively work to help the participants build relationships with each other and confidence in themselves. He said this is done by the criteria the girls are evaluated on, which does not include a swimsuit category or judgments based on size.

Contestants are evaluated on traditional criteria, such as their hair, makeup and outfit, but they are also evaluated on their self-confidence and how they carry themselves.

Each of the three judges live outside of Niles, while each contestant must attend a school within the city limits or have graduated from one of those schools in 2022. All participants received a prize pack.

Abbey Lehman, Miss Niles

Lehman is an incoming sophomore at Niles High School and does various activities through her school, including football and basketball cheer, golf, drill line for marching band, concert band, Key Club and drama club. She also likes to babysit her neighbors and create art.

She received a $1,000 prize pack, including a $500 scholarship for college provided by Siefert and his daughter, Caitlyn Siefert, who won Miss Niles in 2014.

Although she is not sure what she wants to go to college for, Lehman said she will probably go to Youngstown State University.

This was her third year participating in the pageant. In 2017, she was first runner-up in the Junior Miss Niles category, and last year she was runner-up in the Miss Niles Category.

“I was nervous, but it was so excited to win,” Lehman said. “I didn’t think I was going to win, but I know I have to keep my confidence up.

She likes participating in the pageant because of the new friends she makes each year. This year, all her new friends cheered her on when she won.

Larkin Stanford,

Junior Miss Niles

Stanford is an incoming sixth-grader at Niles Middle School. She has been involved with competitive dance at Christie’s Dance Academy for nine years and is an altar server at her church, St. Stephen Church. She performs many styles of dance, but said that tap is her favorite.

She loves school, and math and science are her favorite subjects. She wants to be a lawyer or a doctor.

“I was about to scream because I was so happy,” Stanford said about the moment her name was announced as the winner.

Stanford received a $400 prize pack. This was her third year in the pageant. Last year, she was first runner-up for Junior Miss Niles and in 2018 she was crowned Little Miss Niles. That same year, her older sister won Junior Miss Niles.

Callie Kibler, Little Miss Niles

Kibler is an incoming third-grader at Niles Intermediate School. She keeps active with softball, soccer and competitive dance.

This may be her first time in the newspaper, but she wants to be a celebrity when she grows up, so she doesn’t plan on it being her last. Kibler said she wants to be a model or an actress.

She said she was very excited to win and it made her feel very special. Kibler likes participating in the pageant because she can see other people’s beauty. This is her second year participating in the pageant and she wants to do it again in the future.

Kibler won $325 worth of prizes, including an American Girl Doll. She said she wants to get a doll that looks like her.

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