June 30, 2010 Edition

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WR's Roacho is MAOT contestant

Ashley Roacho of Walnut Ridge, the reigning Miss Northeast Arkansas Outstanding Teen, will compete in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant in Hot Springs today through Saturday.
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Ashley Roacho of Walnut Ridge, the reigning Miss Northeast Arkansas Outstanding Teen, will be competing in the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen (MAOT) pageant at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs today through Saturday. The winner at Hot Springs will go on to compete in Miss America's Outstanding Teen in Orlando, Fla., in August.

Roacho is 16 and has been competing in pageants since she was in third grade. She will be a junior at Walnut Ridge High School in the fall and is a 10-year honor roll student. She is ranked fifth in her class and has served as class secretary, student council class representative and Key Club secretary. Roacho is a member of many other school clubs, participates in various school and church activities, and was named a National Cheerleading Association All-American Cheerleader.

This will be her second year to compete at the state level.

"I enjoy being in pageants, and I have made so many new friends during the competitions," she said. "I met a lot of girls during last year's MAOT and look forward to attending college with some of them in a few years."

The MAOT pageant is for girls age 13 through 17 and its goal is to prepare contestants for the Miss Arkansas Pageant when they are old enough to compete for the title and scholarships.

The program also gives Roacho the opportunity to speak with youth as well as adults about her platform, or critical issue as it is now called. "After Divorce: Building Successful Blended Families" is her platform, and she says she has gotten lots of positive feedback from people of all ages who have heard her speak on the subject.

"As a child of divorce, I know firsthand the uncertainties and insecurities divorce can cause, and when divorced parents remarry, it can also add another set of complications to an already hurtful situation," she explains. "I want to share with others my experiences and tools, especially my Three C's to help them establish good relationships."

The Three C's stand for communication, consistency and consideration and Roacho has shared her views with Boys and Girls Clubs, AWANAs at her church and many school classrooms during the past year.

As Miss Northeast Arkansas Outstanding Teen, she has assisted with Circle of Friends fund-raisers for the Arkansas Children's Hospital where she is also a "Change Angel," manned the phones for St. Jude Children's Hospital Cablethon and sold "Miracle Balloons" for the Children's Miracle Network. She also made many other appearances during Beauty Boot Camp in Blytheville June 21-24.

Her schedule in Hot Springs includes the formal arrival and interview today, talent competition on Thursday and an on-stage question, active wear and evening wear on Friday evening. Finals will be held on Saturday night and a new Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen will be crowned.

This year Roacho will perform a tap dance routine to "Man With the Hex" during the talent competition, and she says she has worked very hard on her routine. Holly Gill, who has been her dance teacher since third grade, recently closed her studio but has continued to help her prepare for this year's competition.

The interview is her favorite part of the pageant, she says, because she enjoys talking to people, but her interview last year was harder than she expected. When the pageant was over, she was able to talk with all the judges and get their suggestions as to what she needed to improve on and what she did that they were impressed with. She said she learned a lot and will be more prepared this year.

"My pageant directors have been wonderful," she said. "They are tough on me, but they tell me what I need to do to improve. Their pageant girls over the years have a great winning record."

Roacho is the 16-year-old daughter of Laura and Marvin Cook of Walnut Ridge and Richard Roacho of Blythe, Calif. She has three older sisters and one younger brother.

" I am so thankful for all the help I have received from Ashley George, Holly Gill, Angie Jones, my family and sponsors and the people in this community who have supported and encouraged me along the way," she said.

"When I walk out on the stage in Hot Springs, it's great to know I have a section of supporters in the audience," Roacho said. "I appreciate them being there, especially knowing they are giving up their Fourth of July holiday to be there for me.

"I am just so excited and honored to be in the state pageant, and I'm ready for it to get here. It will be great to see all my friend in Hot Springs again."

Those interested in keeping up with events at the MAOT pageant can go to missnea.org where updates and blogs may be found, as well as photos of the contestants and winners from each evening.

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