By:Joy Fowler

The 2017 Miss Buford Middle Pageant was held on Thursday, October 12, 2017 at the Buford Fine Arts Center. Fifteen contestants in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades participated in the fundraiser directly supporting the eighth grade students. Over the past few years, funds have been used to purchase additional technology – including a set of Google Chromebooks. Proceeds have also been used to provide supplemental novels for the Language Arts department, supplies for science classes, and activities for the end-of-the-year events.

Eighth grade teacher and sponsor, Mrs. Katie Duncan, serves as pageant director and articulately emceed the event. A group of well-dressed eighth grade young gentlemen served as escorts to the contestants. As Mrs. Duncan quipped from the podium, “It was easy to get them to dress up because we bribed them with free food!” Vocal entertainment was provided by BMS student Abby Cochran, who sang “Photograph” made popular by Ed Sheeran.

Judges were multi-titleholder Audrey Varnell, pageant mom and coach Jewell Hutto, and Miss America Organization volunteer and longtime AJC writer, Faith Peppers. Judging criteria included poise, personality, and presentation in both the personal introduction and evening gown categories.  

Outgoing Miss Buford Middle, Saylor Lewis, assisted with crowning and giving awards. A student raffle was held for a $50 gift card. In the week prior to the pageant, students and teachers voted on contestants for the “Spirit of Miss BMS Award,” which was given to the student who most exhibits honesty, sincerity, respect, outstanding character, and maintains a strong personal integrity. The People’s Choice Award was presented to the student who received the most audience dollar votes on pageant night. Judges scored contestants to determine the runners-up and new Miss Buford Middle.

Posing for selfies, touching up lipstick, and cheering on one another in the dressing rooms, contestants were full of enthusiasm during intermission. The atmosphere was positive and encouraging as laughter rang through the hallway, and smiles and hugs abounded. Seventh grader Anna Cate Smith said, “The pageant is fun because you get to dress up, do your makeup, and hang out with your friends.” Eighth grader Emilee Akins added, “I like getting dolled up and showing our true selves on stage.” Mara Eva Cline, a seventh grader, added that she enjoys being on stage and wearing “poofy dresses.” Isabella Bonner, an eighth grader and pageant newbie, said that she really enjoyed being in the pageant “because it’s like a fairytale.” Many of the contestants were first time participants and stated that they would encourage other girls who had never participated in a pageant before to get involved, pointing out how they had bonded with one another, “had lots of fun,” and had built their self-confidence through this experience.

And the winners were…

Student Raffle Winner – Abby Hopper

People’s Choice Award – Brianna Rischar

Spirit of BMS – Emilee Akins

3rd Runner-Up – Mara Eva Cline

2nd Runner-Up – Gracie James

1st Runner-Up – Leah Madsen

Miss Buford Middle 2017 – Emma Sanders

Buford Middle School, Mrs. Duncan, and the team of eighth grade teachers who volunteered were grateful for the sponsors who contributed to the success of the event, including: The Sports Connection, North Georgia Accounting Solutions, Subway, Pure Performance Marine & Propeller, Buford Elite Sports Training, Mall of Georgia Ford, Shea Creations, Elite Barbers, Sugar Hill Subs, Cosmetology School of Georgia, and Juices Wild.

Mrs. Duncan commented, “It is my honor to be a part of this yearly event. As someone who was once a contestant in the Miss Buford Middle Pageant, I feel blessed to be able to help carry on a true Buford tradition that directly benefits our current students in the eighth grade. I look forward to continuing our grade level’s sponsorship of this pageant for many years to come.”