HOBBTON — A sense of pageantry was in the air as two of Sampson’s representatives showed their wardrobe to the public. The auditorium at Hobbton High School was the scene for Miss Greater Sampson County, Ciara Ellis and Miss Greater Sampson County Outstanding Teen, Emili McPhail to show the clothing they will be wearing next week in Raleigh as they compete in their respective pageants vying for the Miss North Carolina titles.
McPhail is a rising junior at Midway High School and is the daughter of Kelli and Norman McPhail. She shared that she enjoyed being Miss Greater Sampson County Outstanding Teen because it gave her an opportunity to make a difference in her platform of reducing hunger in today’s families.
“My GREAT program is a major emphasis of my platform. As a member of my church, Zoar PFWB Church, we started a hunger relief program that developed into a larger organization, the food bank in Salemburg,” asserted McPhail.
The Sampson OT explained that the Christian Food Bank in Salemburg started with its first give-away and about 20 people were there. Now about 500 are being served and many of them are people McPhail knows.
“Hunger affects so many people. People that we may not even know are experiencing problems. There is so much to do and I am thankful to do a small part to help make more people aware of the hunger problem in our area,” stressed the outstanding teen.
McPhail’s GREAT program stands for G-Groceries, R-Reaching, E-Every, A-American, T-Today. The young queen is very adamant about her platform and looks forward to winning the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen so she can be even a greater spokeswoman for the fight against hunger.
“I am hoping to win so I can expand my fight against hunger. But I am also looking forward to being with the other teens and making new friends. I am sure it will be a lot of fun and exciting as we compete next week,” expressed McPhail.
Sampson’s Outstanding Teen feels that the Miss America program helps young women to better themselves.
“Competing in the Miss America program pageants helps young women because they are scholarship pageants. We are required to have a platform where we take a stand to do something to improve the lives of others. If I did not want to be in these pageants, I certainly would not be here. I hope to make a difference in North Carolina as I have tried to do in Sampson County,” remarked McPhail.
Going into the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen Pageant next week, Emili expressed that she would appreciate everyone’s prayers and thanked them for their support.
“I am excited to represent Sampson County in the pageant next week. I ask that everyone pray for me to do my best. I am so proud to represent this county and I thank everyone for all the support they have shown me,” asserted McPhail.
Miss Greater Sampson County Outstanding teen will play the piano for her talent portion of the pageant.
Ellis represents Sampson County as Miss Greater Sampson County. She is from Fayetteville and graduated high school at Cape Fear. She is currently attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill double majoring in Psychology and Theatre Arts. She is the daughter of Tony and Michele Ellis. She was the Johnston County Miss Outstanding Teen in 2001.
Ellis’ platform is raising awareness of teenage depression and seeking to have depression recognized as a disease and not be equated with substance abuse.
“I was amazed to discover that insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield put the common cold of mental illness, depression, in the same category as substance abuse. For this reason, many times the insurance company limits the benefit a person can receive and it also places a stigma on the person from suffering from depression,” asserted Ellis.
Miss Greater Sampson County is eager to compete in the Miss North Carolina pageant also. She too is hoping to win the title so she will be better able to promote her platform.Ellis is currently working with North Carolina BCBS to help change policies relating to how depression is received.
“Depression became very real to me at the age of 15 when a friend of mine came to me talking about committing suicide. I went to my counselor regarding my friend and she told me that I had done all I could from him. The demands on teens and the pressures teenagers face put them a greater risk of suffering from depression. But the doctors and insurance companies add to these pressures by placing the disease in the same category as substance abuse. We need to do more to help anyone suffering from depression to find ways of coping and finding a positive way in which to deal with the condition,” remarked Ellis.
“I want to thank Sampson County for the great support they have shown me. I look forward to representing them in the Miss North Carolina title and becoming your future Miss America,” said Ellis.
The Greater Sampson County Carolina Princess’ will also be accompanying Ellis and McPhail next week.
Miss Greater Sampson County Carolina Princess’ are Kaitlyn Royal and Carli Carroll. The Miss Greater Sampson County Outstanding Teen Carolina Princess’ are Kerrigan Brown and Carli Carroll.
Angela Martin is the executive director for the Greater Sampson County pageants.
Due to the fierce competitiveness of the Miss North Carolina pageant, the apparel worn by Ellis and McPhail cannot be shown prior to next week. Look for updates and photos of pageant wardrobe in future editions of The Independent.