in the National American Miss Pageant as a State Finalist in the Teen Division (ages 16-18). The pageant was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Des Moines July 4-6.
Kayla's journey down the pageant trail began a couple of months ago when a brown envelope appeared in the mail for her. Inside was a resume type invitation from the National American Miss Selection Committee.
"I though, 'Oh what have I got to lose - and I've got a lot to gain," Kayla said.
To her surprise, she soon received notice that on the recommendation of the State Selection Committee, she had been chosen as a State Finalist.
Her first requirement was to raise $380 in "sponsor fees" which she began to do right away. "People were very generous in helping me out and I appreciate everything everyone did to help make this dream come true," she said.
Then came the search for the "interview" attire that was required. She had decided that she would just wear one of her prom dresses for the "formal wear" competition.
On July 4, Kayla, along with her parents, John and Patti, and brother Matt (big sister Alli just graduated as an R.N. and had to stay behind, but checked in numerous times on Kayla's progress!) headed for Des Moines.
Checking in to their room at the Marriott (on the 31st floor nonetheless) they were amazed at the fact that being that high up allowed them the view of numerous different fireworks displays.
Saturday, July 5, meant an early rise for Registration. Kayla entered a picture of herself in the "Most Photogenic" category and earned a ribbon. She also turned in 16 stuffed animals and 2 kids' books for a Community Service Project - 10 percent of the total pageant score. At the end of the Pageant on Sunday, these were presented to local policeman and fireman to take them on calls and use to comfort little children. Books were distributed to local schools and libraries.
Then it was off to Merle Hay Mall to have her hair done. Needless to say, 2 hours and 15 minutes later, Kayla appeared, with her hair all done up in curls. Saturday evening was the formal wear competition. The candidates were scored on poise, natural confidence and appearance in their dress.
Sunday morning brought personal introductions to the judges. Girls were scored on poise, natural confidence and projection along with overall appearance. Following this was the "Interview." The candidates moved from table to table and allowed the same time at every table. Each judge judged them individually.
"This was a great opportunity to learn and develop interview skills and practical experience," Kayla said.
The culminating event was the Pageant itself. Kayla's parents commented, "It was awesome. It was just like a 'mini' Miss America Pageant with all the glamour, hype, lights, glitz and glitter... seeing Kayla up on that stage with 34 other teens from Iowa just made us feel so proud! She presented herself very well, and represented Storm Lake in fine fashion."
For Kayla it was a memorable experience. "I couldn't believe I was really up there on that stage with all those beautiful girls. It was like a dream come true. It was very tiring though. They kept us busy. I met a lot of neat girls that I exchanged addresses with and hope to keep in touch with. I also learned a lot of new skills... Being there I was encouraged to set goals for my future.
"When I did my "personal introduction" on stage for the judges, I was very proud to say I was from Storm Lake. And I couldn't believe how many friends and relatives that came down to cheer me on for the final pageant on Sunday night."
If she is invited again next year, she hopes to compete again. "It was too much fun to pass up," she said.
After graduation next spring, Kayla plans higher education in the health field. "I like to help people and make a difference in people's lives."
For being selected as one of the finalist's in the National American Miss Contest, Kayla received a trophy and a scholarship to Barbizon Modeling School in Schaumburg, Illinois.