SYLACAUGA – Hayley Barber, a 20-year-old University of Alabama at Birmingham student majoring in business was crowned Miss Talladega County July 12, at B.B. Comer Memorial High School.

Barber is the daughter of Mark and Karon Barber of Pelham.  She will represent Talladega County at the Miss Alabama Pageant in June, 2015.

For her talent, Barber performed a tap dance to “Dancin’ Fool” and received more than $29,000 in scholarships, gifts and services and was the recipient of the $200 Susannah Higgins Moreland Swimsuit Award; the $1,000 Shirley’s Studio of Dance In-kind Scholarship and the $200 Dance and Performing Arts In-kind Scholarship.

Her platform is “Sight for Small Eyes,” and she is an advocate for eye care and vision therapy, specifically for children.

“I am so thrilled,” Barber said after being crowned. “I have competed in this pageant the past three years and always looked up to the past Miss Talladega County titleholders. I can hardly believe I’m now one of those girls. I’m so eager to get started.”

Barber’s family is from Sylacauga and her father, aunt and uncle are graduates of Sylacauga High School.

Kyra Callens, a 15-year-old student at Oak Mountain High School was crowned Miss Talladega County’s Outstanding Teen. 

She is the daughter of Mike and Cassandra Callens of Birmingham.

She will represent Talladega County at the Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in March 2015.

Callens performed a jazz dance to “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.” 

She also received an inkind scholarship from Shirley’s Studio of Dance. Her platform is “We Are The Champions – Help Fight Breast Cancer!”

“I feel so honored to have been crowned Miss Talladega County’s Outstanding Teen,”she said. “I am so excited for a great year with my wonderful Miss, Hayley Barber, and amazing director, Ken Brewer.”

First runner-up to Barber was Alyssa Boyd of Montgomery who performed the vocal, “Time To Say Goodbye” and she was the recipient of the Susannah Higgins Moreland $300 community service scholarship.

Second runner-up was Chassidy Sumler of Birmingham who also received the Sylacauga Area Council on Arts and Humanities $500 talent award.

Third runner-up was Miranda Ward of Rainsville, and fourth runner-up was Caitlin Crowe of Tuscaloosa.

First runner-up to Callens was Katie Causey of Tuscaloosa who was talent winner in the Miss Talladega County’s Outstanding Teen Division, performing a lyrical dance, “Power of Love.” 

She was the recipient of the Dance and Performing Arts In-kind Scholarship.

Second runner-up was Caitlyn McTier of Sylacauga, who performed the vocal, “Holding Out For a Hero.”

Third runner-up was Emily O’Rear, who performed a dance, “Friend Like Me;” and fourth runner-up was Keely Templeton of Danville who performed a dance, “I Won’t Give Up.”

“I created my community service platform, ‘Sight for Small Eyes,’ to encourage eye examinations at a young age and raise funds for children with low vision,” Barber said.

 “I would love to visit the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, the school systems here, and local optometrists to share my platform and see how I can get involved in this community. Other than platform work, I want to represent Talladega County the best I can at Miss Alabama, so I will be working to better myself in every phase of competition before then.”

“I hope to have done many appearances around the community before this year is over,” Callens said. 

“I also want to have numerous fundraisers for my platform.”

Scholarships were also awarded to Emma Wright of Sylacauga, who received the Anna Fay Comer Vocal Performance Scholarship; Isabella Powell of Columbiana who received the Janie Giddens Vocal Performance Scholarship; and Madisyn Vincent of Sylacauga was the evening wear winner.

Other contestants participating in the Miss Talladega County’s Outstanding Teen division included Marika Marinakis of Gardendale and Taylor Garcia of Lincoln.  Contestants who also competed for the title of Miss Talladega County were Emma Caroline Gaddy of Decatur, Shiann Harper of Gardendale, Hannah Brown of Tuscaloosa, Hannah McDonald of Prattville, Myrah Taylor of Birmingham, Jill Vinzant of Clanton, Ashley Tingle of Tuscaloosa, Cassidy Jacks and Lacey Gossett of Springville, Ellen Hardy of Anniston, Chandler Shields of Huntsville and Holland Brown of Trussville.

Talking about her experience in the pageant, Barber said she relied upon help from God to do her best.

“I was actually sick with a cold the entire week before the Miss Talladega County Pageant, and still feeling pretty rough on Saturday. I just gave it up to God, trusted him to watch over me and carry me throughout the day,” she said.  “I didn’t cough or sneeze one time while I was competing and by the end of the night, I knew He had been the one performing through me.”

“I also loved spending the day with the girls and getting to know the other contestants better,” she said. “I have found some of my best friends through competing in this organization and we all have such a fun day at the Miss Talladega County Pageant. Winning the title was complete icing on the cake.”

For Callens, the pageant was balancing her excitement and a little nervous energy.

“I was very nervous and excited throughout the whole day,” she said. “Once evening gown was over, I could relax until we went onstage for crowning, then the nerves came back. 

“Once my name was called out as the winner, it felt amazing to know my nerves, excitement, hard work, and dedication paid off,” she said.

The Miss America Organization is the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the world, having made available more than $45 million in scholarships.