A 14-year-old Seaford girl is representing Delaware this week at the Miss High School America Pageant in Orlando, Fla.
Kayleigh Lyn Barnes was crowned Miss High School Delaware 2013 in August at a pageant in Lancaster, Pa. where she competed against 38 girls from across the First State.
“I did not expect to win Miss High School Delaware,” Barnes said. “I didn’t decide to do it until three days before the pageant and I was really just doing it for stage experience and practice; but I won, so now I’m going to nationals.”
Barnes, her mother Suzanne Farris, and three of her nine siblings left for Orlando on July 7. Barnes said interviews begin Friday, preliminaries are Saturday and finals are Sunday. She will compete against 51 girls – one from Canada – in eveningwear, fun fashion and interviews. A $10,000 scholarship is up for grabs.
Barnes will also receive a minimum $500 scholarship for winning Miss High School Delaware. The final amount is based on how well she does in the national pageant.
Since winning Miss High School Delaware, Barnes, who competed in her first pageant at just four months old, has contributed over 1,000 community service hours to local schools and to organizations like the Red Cross. She also founded Barefoot Beauties, an organization that builds self-confidence, public speaking skills and a foundation of community service in girls of all ages who are interested in pageant competition.
“We named it ‘Barefoot Beauties’ because we’re always running around barefoot at pageants,” Barnes said.
Through Barefoot Beauties, Barnes mentors 36 girls, including 7-year-old Madison Long.
“Kayleigh teaches us how to walk and stand and we do lots of cool stuff in Barefoot Beauties,” Long said. “What I like most about Kayleigh is that she’s really nice.”
Barnes, an incoming high school sophomore, completed sixth and seventh grade in one year and maintains A’s and B’s in her classes. She plays softball and field hockey, and she’s a member of the swim team. In college, Barnes wants to study sports medicine and pursue a career as an athletic trainer.
Farris said she’s thrilled that Barnes has been presented with the opportunity to compete in the national pageant.
“Not many girls her age get to do something this big,” she said. “We’re really proud of all the work she’s done, especially with Barefoot Beauties. As a mom, it’s really cool to see Kayleigh impact all these kids in such a positive way.”