Ilene Thompson doesn’t strike you as a pageant winner. The soft-spoken brunette would rather read the latest Clive Cussler novel or head out for a long run than learn about makeup and hairstyling.
However, not even the challenge of walking in high heels stopped her from taking the Post Falls Junior Miss title Saturday.
“I’m not a high heels kind of girl,” Thompson said. “I’d rather be dirt-bike riding than be in high heels.”
The youngest daughter of nine children, Thompson attends Post Falls High School, where she participates in the debate, improv and drama teams and takes advanced U.S. History, advanced math and honors English classes.
Thompson said she signed up for the scholarship competition so that she could learn more about her feminine side.
“I don’t really understand girls that much – I grew up hanging out with my five brothers,” she said. “I figured it would teach me how to be a young lady. And it did.”
The scholarship competition featured an interview segment in the morning followed by fitness, talent and self-expression segments during the evening program. A panel of judges selected Thompson as the overall winner out of 23 Post Falls juniors. Thompson also took first in the interview portion.
The major influence in Thompson’s life is her family.
“My life and personality have been styled by my family,” she said. “I think it’s the coolest thing to have a big family – you’re never without friends.”
However, she said that over the past nine weeks she made friends with her fellow competitors. She even credits the other girls for her title.
“I think it’s their fault I won,” Thompson confessed. “They taught me about hair and makeup and everything. They were always helping me. I love all those girls so much.”
Rebecca Thompson, Ilene’s mother, said that she wasn’t sure why the judges picked her daughter, but she shared a moment that illustrated the simple enjoyment of life that characterizes Ilene.
In the middle of the evening competition, Rebecca caught her daughter dancing along with the third- and fourth-grade “Little Misses” in between programs while the other Juniors rested.
“She was so animated, and she was having as much fun as those little girls,” Rebecca said. “That part probably caught my fancy the best.
“She’s just a very sweet, innocent girl.”
Thompson said she’s “pretty much been on cloud nine” since the competition where she won her choice of a $1,000 scholarship or one year’s tuition at North Idaho College. After high school, she said she plans on attending NIC and looking for another scholarship so she could transfer. She plans on a career in medicine or the military.
Thompson will represent Post Falls at the state Junior Miss competition in October to be held at NIC. She said she’s looking forward to fulfilling her duties as Junior Miss, which include helping train the next group of competitors.
“I’ll get to meet a whole new group of girls,” she said. “And maybe they will become my friends, too.”
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