Columbia teen wins pageant crown

Sara Stehlik

Sara Stehlik of Columbia captured the title of Miss Southern Sweetheart Outstanding Teen last month at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center in Marion.

The Southern Sweetheart Pageant is a local preliminary to Miss Illinois and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program. She competed in interview, talent, on stage question, fitness and formal wear on Nov. 9 to win the iconic Miss America inspired crown.

Stehlik, an eighth grader at Columbia Middle School, is the recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Gold Level), Columbia Middle School Volunteer of the Year and Miss Amazing Volunteer of the Year. She is a 4.0 honor roll student, district and conference spelling bee winner, V.P. of the Beta Club and selected as a performer for the IMEA choir. She participates in the school’s band, scholar bowl, choir, musical theater and “Best Buds” program.

Stehlik will be among the state’s most talented, bright and accomplished young women, ages 13 to 17, to compete in the Miss Illinois’ Outstanding Teen competition, the “little sister” to Miss Illinois. The competition will take place June 8-14 at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center in Marion during Miss Illinois Pageant Week.

Girls from all over the state will be competing for Miss, Teen and Outstanding Pre-teen titles. The Miss America Outstanding Teen Competition focuses on four points of the Miss America crown – service, success, scholarship and style.

Stehlik will be performing a contemporary vocal solo for the talent portion of the competition. She is promoting “Celebrating the Abilities of Individuals with Disabilities” as a platform issue throughout her year of service. During her year as Miss Southern Sweetheart Outstanding Teen, she will also volunteer and raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network, the national platform for the Miss America Organization.

Tickets are available by phone through the Marion Cultural and Civic Center box office by calling 618-997-4030 or online at

For more information about the Miss Illinois Scholarship Association or Southern Sweet- heart Pageant, go to or email, attention Linda Byassee.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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