Sides, Potts have high hopes as they prepare for North Carolina pageants in High Point

Even before she was crowned Miss Stanly County last October, Shelby Sides was championing the benefits of community colleges.

Sides, who will settle in Tuesday in High Point for Miss North Carolina competitions, has used her platform as Miss Stanly to heighten the benefits of Stanly Community College as well as Montgomery Community College.

The Albemarle native turned Norwood resident speaks of the $19 billion impact on the North Carolina economy.

“It’s been really awesome working with them,” she says of SCC.

Miss Stanly County Shelby Sides recently had a wardrobe showing at Badin Inn in preparation for the competition this week in High Point. (Photo by STARLA WHITLEY)

She has handed out awards at middle and high school ceremonies and given presentations about how to apply to college.

Her latest endeavor is reaching out to businesses for donations in hopes of creating at least two $250 scholarships to give away to students.

“$250 is a big help when you’re talking about tuition that is anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 per semester,” she said.

Sides said she graduated from SCC with an associate degree and diploma in business administration, as well as certificates for marketing, small business entrepreneurship and business administration.

“I was able to do all that and come out completely debt-free,” she said.

She has been working for The Enigma Agency, a small social media marketing company.

“That has actually been the most amazing thing,” she said of being able to work remotely through the agency. “I’m able to travel and still able to carry out all my Miss Stanly County responsibilities.”

She said she began with the company as it was getting started.

“It’s been really fun to take my business administration degree to help them build out this company,” she said.

Sides would like to own her own business one day, but she hopes she can go back to school to get her master’s degree first.

Before all of that, there is the title of Miss North Carolina she would like to win.

After checking in on Tuesday, Sides will have a personal interview with judges on Wednesday. This is the first time she will meet the judges. After giving a 30-second speech on her community service initiative on the benefits of community colleges, the rest of the 10 minutes will involve questions by judges, which can include anything from her platform to her views on politics.

“That’s just kind of testing my knowledge and getting to know me to see if I would be a good fit to be Miss North Carolina,” said Sides, who became Miss Stanly on her 20th birthday.

Thursday and Friday are filled with preliminary competitions of evening gown, fitness, on-stage conversation and talent.

Her talent will be a lyrical dance routine.

“I was never a dancer,” she said. “I was always a cheerleader.

“I was really persuaded towards dance and trying something new.”

Lucky for her, she said, Miss Stanly Outstanding Teen Emilee Potts “lives and breathes dance.”

“I kind of figured I would mash that together and let her choregraph my routine,” she said. “It has been an absolute blast. She is absolutely amazing. It’s been really cool to have her this year.”

Sides was actually Miss Stanly Outstanding Teen in 2020 and 2021.

“Throughout this year of serving Stanly County together we have really gotten to know each other and she is like a sister to me now,” Sides said of Potts. “She’s just an amazing friend to have.”

Miss Stanly Outstanding Teen Emilee Potts recently had a wardrobe showing at Badin Inn in preparation for the competition this week in High Point. (Photo by STARLA WHITLEY)

Like Sides, winning Miss Stanly Outstanding Teen happened in Potts’ first pageant appearance.

Potts, a Rowan County resident, has studied dance for nearly 13 years.

Her family owns Studio B Dance Company in Faith.

For her talent, the rising junior at East Rowan High School will perform a lyrical dance routine to “Perfectly Loved,” which “talks about how everyone is perfectly imperfect and how everyone is loved,” Potts said.

“I always said that I wanted to grow up to be a special needs teacher and dance teacher,” she said.

Individuals can wish Sides well on Instagram by visiting @missstanlycountync or direct messaging her at Miss Stanly County on Facebook.

Another way to show support is by visiting missnc.org and voting for Sides and Potts to win the People’s Choice Award in their respective competition. The winner of this award, regardless of their score in competitions, will be vaulted to the Top 16 of the finals.

Votes are $1 each.

“All of that money goes back to the Miss North Carolina Association for scholarships, so it gets put to really good use,” Sides said.

In addition to Potts and Sides, another local resident will represent at the competitions.

Cade Whitley

Cade Whitley will sing Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the Miss North Carolina Teen pageant.

“John Norris, director for Miss North Carolina Teen, heard Cade sing at Miss Stanly County this past October and personally invited him to sing as special guest entertainment,” said Starla Whitley, Cade’s mother, who will provide backup harmony for her son.”