MASON COUNTY — Miss West Virginia USA Lauren Roush of New Haven made her way back home recently, speaking to students at both New Haven and Roosevelt elementary schools.
New Haven Elementary (NHES) was Roush’s first school visit following her bid for Miss USA in Las Vegas on May 14. Roush attended NHES as a youngster and was met with an enthusiastic group, some of whom knew her personally and some of whom are related to her.
For the primary students, Roush read the book “M is for Mountain State: A West Virginia Alphabet,” by Mary Ann McCabe Riehle and Laura J. Bryant. She paused to display the illustrations and quizzed the youngsters on their knowledge of the state.
The intermediate students were treated to a version of Roush’s original program titled “To My Younger Self.” Roush said the program touches on information she wishes she had known when she was their age.
First, she warned students of the effects of social media. With many students raising their hands indicating they already have accounts, Roush told them not to compare their everyday life with the social media “highlight reels” of others.
“While you are looking at someone’s social media page saying ‘I want hair like hers,’ or ‘I want a boat like his,’ they are doing the same thing on someone else’s post,” she said.
Roush also told the children to be careful what they post on social media, adding “it’s on there forever.”
Peer pressure, positive role models, good grades, and leaving a legacy of kindness were also addressed.
“Be remembered as the person who was kind, was uplifting to others, one who was always a friend to your classmates,” she challenged.
Most of all, the title holder told the students to “dream big.”
“The sky is the limit,” she said. “I was in 50 pageants before being crowned Miss West Virginia USA and sometimes I thought about giving up. But, I’m glad I didn’t or I wouldn’t be here talking to you now. Never give up on your dreams.”
Roush fielded a plethora of questions from students following the presentation. Questions ranged from “Who is the most famous person you have every met,” to “Did you have a lot of friends when you were our age.”
Roush is home for the weekend before appearing in a Memorial Day parade on Monday. She said she will be working part-time this summer as a restaurant hostess in Morgantown before returning to West Virginia University this fall as a graduate student.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.