Clay High sisters vie for national pageant titles

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/23/21

LAKE ASBURY — Two local pageant state titleholders aren’t just in it for the glitz and glamor, but as a way to advocate for causes, showcase talents, gain new skills and secure college …

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Clay High sisters vie for national pageant titles

Posted

LAKE ASBURY — Two local pageant state titleholders aren’t just in it for the glitz and glamor, but as a way to advocate for causes, showcase talents, gain new skills and secure college tuition.

Two Lake Asbury sisters attending Clay High – junior Ashlynn Barr and senior Taylor Barr – are heading out for American Pageants’ National Pageant in Atlanta this weekend. Ashlynn is Junior Miss of Teen of Florida and Taylor is the Miss Teen of Florida.

Pageants aren’t like the drama of TV shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” the sisters said. Ashlynn Barr describes it as a relaxed atmosphere where contestants are friendly.

“Every time I’ve gone to pageant, [contestants] are like, ‘Hey, can I have your Snapchat? Can I have your Instagram?’” Ashlynn Barr said.

“We get along pretty well with people in our age groups,” Taylor Barr said.

Not every pageant is the same, contestants portray their skills, address platforms and are interviewed by judges. Public speaking is a must. Even though the pair has a coach, the goal is being as genuine as possible.

“Pageants are always looking for someone who’s unique, has a cause and is genuine,” Taylor Barr said. “It’s always good to make sure you have a plan ... you want to be engaging, making it so it doesn’t seem as rehearsed as it really is.”

Far from a popularity contest, the judges look for contestants to be well-rounded. Both said they’ve grown from competing.

“Pageants have helped me to realize how far academically I’ve improved and it improved my self-esteem,” Taylor Barr said.

“The interviews will seriously help when I apply for a job,” Ashlynn Barr said.

Taylor Barr wants to increase the acceptance of learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia. Ashlynn Barr advocates bringing awareness to sex trafficking, partnering with Jacksonville-based nonprofit Rethreaded, which benefits victims of sex trafficking.

“The awareness could be better,” Ashlynn Barr said. “I feel like people should know more about it and Florida is No. 3 in the U.S. [for sex trafficking].”

Taylor Barr has her sights on medical school, while Ashlynn Barr, in the advanced stages of Clay High’s carpentry program, is looking at trade schools.

The pair haven’t competed against each other.

“I’m not sure what our mom would say,” Ashlynn Barr said. “It would be kind of nice.”

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