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NLR teen wins Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen

Name: Laura Leigh Turner Title: Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Hometown: North Little Rock, AR

Education: North Little Rock High School East Campus; Lakewood Middle School; Poplar Street Middle; Indian Hills Elementary The Cathedral School

Platform Issue: TNT: Teens Nurturing Teens

Scholastic/Career Ambition: To obtain a medical degree and become a Neonatologist

Talent: Tap Dance- “Beat It”

Scholastic Honors: 4.0 GPA; Ranked 1st in class; National Beta Club Member; Freshman 2011-2012 Jim Gray

Leadership Award; Overall Freshman Commitment Award; 4 time Academic Commitment Excellence Award; President’s Academic Achievement Award; Duke TIP program participant; 2010-2011 Top Algebra Student; Athletic Academic Award

Leadership Roles: Member of North Little Rock Mayor’s Youth Council; Ambassador on North Little Rock High School Principal’s Advisory Leadership Board; Certified Special Olympics Track and Field Coach; Student Council Representative; Buddy Walk on Washington advocate; Miracle League Baseball Buddy; UCA and NCA All- American Cheerleader; Co-Chairman of 1st Central Arkansas Buddy Walk; North Little Rock High School Freshman Cheer Co-Captain

Accomplishments: Received a congressional commendation from Representative Tim Griffin for service to Children with Special Needs; Regional and national dance competition overall champion 2004-2012; 1st runner up, Kids Artistic Revue Miss Dance 2012; Top Five Soloist at National Dance Competitions; Performer in Arkansas Repertory Theater Summer Musical Theater Intensive; “Superior” at the Arkansas Piano Festival

Interesting Facts: Play three instruments – piano, guitar, and flute; “Fabricates” Toms shoes; Member of the North Little Rock High School Competitive Speech Team; May one day live in a dorm named after a family member; Have participated in five sports- competitive dance, track, gymnastics, volleyball, and basketball; Love spending summers at the lake with my huge family; Often told that I look like Brooke Shields; Compassion International pen pal to an Indonesian child; Keyboardist in a band

Marketing Plan: In marketing the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program, I will dedicate my year of service to educating Americans about the importance of building friendships with special needs youth. It is my desire that everyone can understand how beneficial and special these friendships can be.

Legacy: As Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, I will encourage my peers to connect with disabled teens to let them know they have a friend and to create within themselves an awareness of the difference they can make in their communities.

Why I should be Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2012: Because I value the importance of reaching out to others, I know my personal values match those of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program. I will devote the same energy and enthusiasm in representing this organization as I have in my efforts to be an advocate for special needs youth. As Miss America’s Outstanding Teen I will be a role model to empower other teens to embrace their passion as volunteers making a difference.

Press Release

North Little Rock High School Student, Laura Leigh Turner, was crowned Saturday night, June 30th as the 2012 Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen. Laura Leigh is the 15-year-old daughter of Jenny Gosser Turner and Tab Turner. Her sisters are Molly Anne Turner and “sister queen” Miss Diamond Lakes, Abby Turner.

Her grandparents are Bob and Marianne Gosser of North Little Rock and Molly Turner of Arkadelphia.

As a result, Turner won $5,000 in scholarship money. She will represent Arkansas at the 2012 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando in August and will make appearances across the Natural State promoting the Children’s Miracle Network and speaking in support of the goals of the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen program and the Miss America system.

Turner, who was Miss Diamond Lakes Outstanding Teen, claimed the Evening Wear and Active Wear competition in Thursday night’s preliminaries and the Talent Award in Friday night’s preliminaries. Other scholarship awards Laura Leigh received on Saturday night included You’ve Got the Look Photogenic Award, Overall Evening Wear, Overall Active Wear, Overall Talent, Most Talented Dancer Award and Overall Interview. The North Little Rock native hopes to use her scholarship money after high school graduation toward a doctorate degree in medicine.

Laura Leigh has worked this year as Miss Diamond Lakes Outstanding Teen promoting her platform “TNT: Teens Nurturing Teens” as she encourages teenagers to build friendships with teenagers with disabilities. She claims her cousin, Jessica Askins, as her inspiration to become an advocate for others with Special Needs. Although Jessica has Down Syndrome, her needs and desires for friendships and activities are the same as other children. Laura Leigh is looking forward to her next year as Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen to open more doors and spread her platform statewide as well as promoting the Children’s Miracle Network.

For the national pageant, Laura Leigh will perform her award-winning tap dance to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and hope to bring home the coveted crown of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.

A sister company to the Miss America Organization, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen is the nation’s leading achievement program and largest scholarship fund for young American women. It promotes scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement for America’s teens. The 2012 competition will be held at the Linda Chapin Theater, Orange County Convention Center from August 14-18. For more information, please go to www.MAOTeen.org.

LLT platform and jessica

The Miss America Pageant system (which includes the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen) encourages each title holders to pick a young girl between the ages of 5-12 to mentor them throughout the year as their “Princess”. Laura Leigh chose her cousin, Jessica Leigh Askins. As a princess, Jessica enjoyed going to events alongside Laura Leigh and in the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen pageant, Jessica was announced on stage during the evening gown competition with Laura Leigh and even performed a dance with the other princesses on stage each night of the pageant. What makes this extra special for Laura Leigh is Jessica has Down Syndrome. Jessica loves being a part and being a princess is extra special to her but even more than Laura Leigh being a mentor to Jessica, Laura Leigh feels like Jessica is a mentor to her!

Here is what Laura Leigh says about the impact Jessica has made on her life.

-I am 15 years old and am a sophomore at North Little Rock High School. I started competing in pageants about a year and a half ago, not knowing the least bit that it would be such a life changing experience. When deciding on a platform, I wanted to choose something that I knew I was really and truly passionate about. One thing I have always loved is being with my cousin Jessica. She has opened up my eyes to her sweet little loving heart and has really made me aware of the disabled teenagers that I come in contact with on a daily basis. She has showed me the joy of just living life so happily and I see so many wonderful characteristics that shine through Jessica every time I’m with her. A couple of years ago, I started volunteering with Jessica’s Miracle League baseball team. What an experience that is. It was one of the first times that I was with quite a few special needs kids volunteering and having a good time. It made such an impact on me seeing what joy it brought them to have someone be a friend to them. Someone that talked to them, laughed with them, and helped do an activity that they loved. When I found out Jessica was going to be competing in a Special Olympics tournament, along with some kids from my school, I didn’t hesitate to go root them on. That year I went to multiple Special Olympics tournaments and even got to see Jessica run at the Special Olympics state track meet. After this, I knew that this is what I loved. I choose to name my platform TNT: Teens Nurturing Teens. I choose this name because wherever you live, under whatever circumstances, anyone can take the effort to nurture and be a friend to a child with special needs. My goal isn’t to make everyone volunteer with the same organizations I do, because not everyone lives in North Little Rock Arkansas. But I can tell you one thing, everyone has the opportunity to make a friend, and those kids with disabilities desire that friendship more than you and I will ever know. My goal is that teenagers realize what an impact these smiles will make on their lives and how a small kind deed will forever affect them. This year I raised over 1000 at my school for Special Olympics and plunged into the ice cold water for the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge. I also got the wonderful opportunity to become a Special Olympics coach. When I found out my high school didn’t have a Special Olympics team, I had to fix that immediately! I organized a Special Olympics team and coached them. We have now gone to the Special Olympics Basketball

tournament and will be soon going to the track and field tournament! We all have so much fun together, and these kids love getting to go home with a medal around their neck. Many of my friends were able to go and they absolutely loved volunteering! I’m thankful that Jessica opened up my eyes to special needs youth, because if I want to make a difference in any way I want to make the people I come in contact with feel special. I’m blessed to have these opportunities and they have forever changed my life. Jessica is and will always be a princess to me.

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