Niles High School senior crowned Miss Niles 2018

NILES — Even with the glittering crown on her head, Kimberly West was still letting it sink in that she had just won the title of Miss Niles 2018 Sunday night at Niles High School.

“It feels surreal,” West said.

With the crown freshly placed on her head and a bundle of roses in one arm, West faced the cheering crowd.

“I feel on top of the world,” she said.

West was one of eight contestants to compete for the title and accompanying scholarship during the annual pageant. West will go on to represent Niles during the Miss Blossomtime 2018 Pageant, which will take place Monday, March 12, at the Mendel Center in Benton Harbor.

Rounding out the Miss Niles 2018  Court of Honor are Miss Congeniality, Tressy Mazumder; First Runner-up, Mackenzie Bishop; Second Runner-up, Makayla Floor; and Mr. Niles, Austin Carter. Floor and Bishop were also awarded $250 scholarships and Mazumder was awarded a $150 scholarship. Carter received a $100 scholarship.

The pageant was themed, “Roll Out the Red Carpet for the Hunter Ice Festival,” and the stage was decorated with snowflakes and Christmas lights.

Before judges chose the 2018 court, contestants danced for the audience to the song “Ice, Ice Baby,” by artist Vanilla Ice. They also showed off evening dress attire, answered a spontaneous interview question on stage and said goodbye to the 2017 Niles Court.

Before the show, each contestant also interviewed with judges.

West is the daughter of Karen and Dwane West. She is a 17-year-old Niles High School senior who intends to become a civil rights lawyer.

In addition to her title as Miss Niles 2018, West won a $500 scholarship, which she said will be put toward college text books. At this time, she said she has not decided on a college, but knows that she will attend.

There were many parts of the scholarship pageant that were nerve wracking, West said. But luckily, she had some strong coaching before the pageant.

West thanked her sister Kayla West, who was selected last year as Miss Congeniality in the Miss Niles 2017 pageant. West said Kayla helped to coach and encourage her.

“She is my little mini pageant coach,” Kim said. “When I doubt myself, she is always there to be like, ‘Kimberly, you got this.’ She is always there when I need her.”

West herself is also no stranger to competing in local pageants. In 2016, she was selected as Miss Apple Festival, alongside her sister Kara West, who earned the title of Junior Miss Apple Festival 2016.

Miss Niles court members complete a number of community service opportunities throughout their reign and West said this is an aspect she is most looking forward to.

“I would love to do a library visit,” West said. “I have always wanted to read to the kids and I didn’t get a chance to before.”

After interviewing with judges and being asked to answer a question on the spot for the pageant, West said she believed the experience helped her to obtain some lifelong interview skills that could help her in her future career.

“People don’t realize it, but pageants really help you refine those skills,” West said.

Additionally, Donna (Flewelling) Bradfield, who earned the title Miss Niles 1968, made an appearance on stage and inducted Miss Niles 2017 Addison Davies into the Blossomtime Queen Sorority.

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