Newton Kansan

Winning is becoming a habit of Hallie Watkins, 10, of Newton. A habit she continued during the week of and after Thanksgiving during the National American Miss pageant.

"I got a spirit stick for having a good spirit during rehearsals," Watkins said. "I was one of 12 out of 180 to get that."

And she picked up more than that. She became a national cover girl — fresh off her being named the Kansas cover girl in July — at the national event in Anaheim, Calif.

"I am proud of her," said her mother, Melanie Babbit. "She did an excellent job of representing Kansas, Newton and Harvey County. Working as hard as she has for this … cover girl is about talking to others and selling advertising. This is pretty neat."

In the National American Miss pageant, there is no makeup allowed in the pre-teen division. Most of the girls are not coached — but they do practice their talents and make t-shirts representing their states.

The pair took a 13-day trip to Anaheim, boarding the train in Newton and riding to the west coast, for the national pageant event.

Watkins qualified for the national event by virtue of both her cover girl status and top 10 finish at a Wichita event in July. At the national event, more than 500 girls competed in the pre-teen division during the week of Thanksgiving.

As a cover girl she will be featured in a pageant magazine circulated nationally — something she is excited about. She is most proud of being named a cover girl. Watkins became the Kansas cover girl after selling sponsorships to the state event — no stranger to sales, she enlisted more than 50 businesses. As a Girl Scout she was known to sell more than 1,000 boxes of cookies.

"I think I'm most proud of selling all the pages and getting the support from the community of Newton," Watkins said. "I was going everywhere, and it took a lot of work."