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Lewis awarded crown as state’s outstanding teen

Laura Lee Lewis’ parents have long believed her to beoutstanding, and they were proven right when she was crownedMississippi’s Outstanding Teen at the Vicksburg MunicipalAuditorium on Saturday night.

The Brookhaven teen, who was one of three from the area tocompete in the field of 34 contestants, won the overall competitionby way of victories in Friday night’s preliminary competition inthe categories of lifestyle and fitness and talent. Lewis, who sang”Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” also claimed the overallvictory in talent in Saturday’s events.

“It’s still hard to believe,” Lewis said. “People tell me’Congratulations, you won!’ and I’m like, ‘Really?'”

Mark Lewis, Laura Lee’s father, said his daughter has had a bentfor the theatrical from an early age.

“She’s always liked to entertain, ever since she was a littlechild,” he said. “I’m very proud of her hard work and diligence andpracticing and doing the best she can to win this contest.”

Lewis, 16, has a 3.69 GPA at Brookhaven High School, and isaiming to graduate among the Top 10 in her class. She said shehopes to pursue a vocal career, and to influence people towardmaking the right decisions through the youth mentoring program,HERO.

HERO, a four-step program to help young people be honorable,excel, reach for goals, and overcome obstacles, was Lewis’ platformfor the event.

Lewis’ mother Lorin said her daughter has put a lot of time andeffort into her work not only on HERO, but on excelling on thestage. Meanwhile, she has maintained her character and has been ablessing to her parents.

“We’re honored, we’re blessed, we just feel like she’s been ablessing to us as a daughter,” Lorin Lewis said. “She’s worked hardfor this, she stays focused on it. As parents she’s brought us alot of honor, and we’re thankful, because to see her rewarded forher hard work is a blessing.”

Laura Lee Lewis said the title is the product not only of hardwork, but of continued prayer on the part of her family, and it isjust the beginning.

“I’m not stopping after this, this is just one of the majorthings I’m going to do,” she said. “I’m going to audition forshows, I’d love to be on Broadway, I love to be on stage, and thiswas my time to shine on the stage. I worked hard for it and I toldGod, ‘If I’m allowed to have it, I want it, and I’ll do my bestwith it,’ so He handed it to me with a silver crown.”

Lewis’ success was also born of the influence of a childhoodeducator who really encouraged her to shine, her mother said.

“When Laura Lee was at Brookhaven Elementary, (Principal) PamFearn said, ‘That child is destined to be a leader,’ and she saw aspecial gift Laura Lee had and encouraged her,” Lorin Lewis said.”That’s the difference an elementary principal can make insomeone’s life.”

The competition began Thursday, and contestants competed in thecategories of evening wear, lifestyle and fitness, and talent.Finalists answered an on-stage question.

Lewis competed as Miss Heartland Outstanding Teen, alongsideBrookhaven’s Miss South Central Mississippi Outstanding Teen KelseyJackson and Miss Metro Jackson Summer Rials of Wesson.

The girls also took “Princesses,” which are young girls whobecome a part of the program. Lorin Lewis said Laura Lee’sPrincess, Hannah Rae Britt, 6, of Pike County, was a joy to havealong.

Lewis will be preparing to compete for the title of MissAmerica’s Outstanding Teen in Orlando, Fla. this August.