TALLADEGA -- Despite stormy weather, Miss Alabama 2017 Jessica Procter on Thursday brightened the day of Ascension Leadership Academy and Alabama School for the Blind students during her visit to both campuses as part of “Read Across America 2018.”

The events were coordinated and organized by Presbyterian Home for Children President and Chief of Operations Doug Marshall.

“We are so thankful that Jessica agreed to visit with us,” Marshall said. “She is such an amazing role model for these children. It was a great day for Talladega.”

Added Ascension Leadership Academy Director of Education Linda Harris, “Reading is so important because it teaches creativity. Our students have been participating in various activities throughout the week to celebrate Read Across America -- and it means so much to have Jessica read and visit with them.”

While at Ascension, Procter read the Dr. Seuss book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” to elementary students and offered an uplifting message to the middle school and high school students.

“Keep being you,” Procter said. “There is beauty in uniqueness, and the world needs you to be yourself. You all have a specific purpose on this earth and can achieve anything you want to with the right mindset.”

Procter encouraged the leaders of the future to become the best versions of themselves.

“Each day, you have an opportunity to take a step in the right direction of becoming what you want to be,” she said.

Students were also able to ask the reigning Miss Alabama questions and seek her advice.

Procter said she has been honored with the job of getting to meet amazing people across the state every day as Miss Alabama.

“It’s so much more than just a beauty pageant,” she said. “It has been able to provide me with over $60,000 in scholarships for my college education.”

Procter also explained the significance of wearing her crown and carrying the weight of the Miss Alabama title.

“The four points on the Miss Alabama crown represent style, scholarship, service and success -- with service meaning the most to me,” Procter said. “It’s always important to give back when you can -- even if it’s just a smile or a hug.”

Procter is a senior at the University of Alabama and will resume her studies this fall, majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on music and communication, and minoring in psychology.

She began competing in pageants at age 17 and was crowned Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen in 2013.

Procter was named Miss Alabama in June of 2017 and went on to compete and finish in the top seven of the 2018 Miss America Pageant.

“Since the first day of becoming Miss Alabama, I have written in a journal each day about my experiences and the people I get to meet. “Today will definitely take up two pages to explain all the joy I’ve experienced.”

Ascension Leadership Academy is a fully accredited by AdvancED.

The private school focuses on academics, fine arts, leadership and etiquette training, and spiritual development for its K-12 students.

For more information about Ascension Leadership Academy, go to www.ascensionacademy.education or call 256-268-8856.