Miss Dogwood Peyton Bolling wins Miss Arkansas’ Teen title

Miss Dogwood Peyton Bolling wins Miss Arkansas’ Teen title

Peyton Bolling is 17, a senior in high school and the new Miss Arkansas’ Teen, winning the title June 14. But don’t let the crown on her head fool you. Bolling is quick to dispel any pageant stereotypes.

“The smartest, most driven and accomplished young women I know were competing with me in Little Rock,” says Bolling, the daughter of Col. Ryan and Patrice Bolling of Rogers and a senior at Bentonville High School. “Our current Miss America is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and our new Miss Arkansas will be heading off to law school as soon as her year is complete.

“As for me, I am on track to graduate high school with nearly a year of college coursework complete, I have over a 4.0 GPA and am an [Advanced Placement] Scholar with Distinction.

“I am proud of all my accomplishments, but I am not the exception in this program — every young woman has impressive goals and achievements.”

Bolling says she did not expect to win Miss Arkansas’ Teen in her first year of competition.

“Last year I sat in the balcony of Robinson Auditorium watching the winners be crowned,” she says. “I never dreamed I would be wearing the crown one year later.”

But the Miss America Pageant system does run in Bolling’s family. Her mother, Patrice Hargrave Bolling, was Miss Dogwood 1999, and Bolling was crowned winner of the Miss Dogwood preliminary this year wearing her mother’s evening gown.

Miss Arkansas Teen Peyton Bolling performs during the preshow of the Miss Arkansas Pageant on Saturday at the Robinson Center in Little Rock. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

“It was a full circle moment seeing her wear my Miss Dogwood dress from 1999,” her mother says. “She has wanted to wear it since she was a very little girl, and my heart skipped a beat when it fit her so perfectly! My time in the Miss Arkansas system was such a happy time, and I look forward to sharing that experience with her.”

Created in 2006 as a companion and introduction to the Miss Arkansas Pageant for young women 13-18, the Miss Arkansas’ Teen “events, competition schedule, category and points breakdown all mirror the Miss Arkansas ones identically,” says Toni Lindsey, a spokeswoman for the pageant system in Arkansas. “They had their official arrival ceremonies together at the Arkansas State Capitol on Saturday, June 8; rehearsals and various events throughout the week; and a 10-minute private interview with the judges on Tuesday. [Peyton] competed in Health and Fitness and On Stage Interview on Tuesday, Evening Gown on Wednesday and Talent on Thursday during the preliminaries.

“Final night and crowning was Friday, June 14, for Miss Arkansas’ Teen. Miss Arkansas 2024 was crowned on Saturday, June 15.”

Bolling’s talent entry was a jazz dance to “Man of La Mancha,” sung by Linda Eder.

“I have been dancing since age 3. It is the one area of competition I feel I have been preparing for my entire life,” she says. “The talent portion is only 1 minute 30 seconds, but I packed in tons of leaps, tricks and turns. I spent time training in the gym to increase my endurance and stamina because it required such a burst of power and energy from me. Definitely the most challenging dance I have ever done!”

Her Community Service Initiative is “Simple Acts of Citizenship.”

“It is all about building better communities through civic involvement and teaching young people about the function and importance of government,” she explains. “It is important that young people realize there is a difference between politics and civics. Civics is about how we participate in our community and show up for each other.

Miss Teen Arkansas, Peyton Bolling, poses for a portrait, Thursday, June 20, 2024 at the downtown Square in Bentonville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

“I had the opportunity to serve as a United States Senate page in Washington, D.C., during the fall semester of my junior year,” Bolling goes on. “Those five months living and working on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol gave me such insight into the importance of government. Yet, when I came home, I found so many of my peers were uninformed about every level of government, and that led me to start an Instagram show called ‘Glimpses in Government.’ I use this platform to interview local elected officials and nonprofit leaders about the role of government. The goal is to educate people on the role and function of local and state government — specifically county clerks, JPs, Mayor, Quorum Courts. Those local positions have so much impact on our everyday life.

“Respected organizations around the state are advocating for civics education as well,” she adds. “The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce introduced the National Civics Bee program to Arkansas. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has founded Civics Arkansas and is currently holding events around the state. Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston has developed the young voters program. I am working to expand partnerships with these organizations during my year of service.”

As she tours Arkansas, Bolling also has her own future in mind. She earned $20,000 in cash scholarships during the competition in Little Rock, along with a full four-year scholarship from Arkansas State University and a $20,000 scholarship from the University of Central Arkansas.

“The great thing about serving in this role during my senior year of high school is that I will be able to get to know not only about what these colleges offer but also about their communities and local leaders,” she says.

Bolling says she enjoys social studies and math classes most and is very involved with the student council, elected to serve as All Student Body Vice President this coming year. One thing she’s looking forward to in college is a slightly later schedule for her classes.

“One thing I won’t miss is the 4:15 a.m. wake-up time,” she says. “My BHS classes start at 7 a.m., and in order to get a workout complete before school, my alarm goes off every school morning at 4:15 a.m. In college, I hope I can structure the start times a little later — even a 5 or 6 a.m. alarm would be better.”

Bolling will compete in the national Miss America’s Teen Pageant in Orlando sometime after the first of the year.

“I am going to put every ounce of my energy preparing this year for Miss America’s Teen as well as serving the state of Arkansas,” she says. “Once my year is complete, I will be immediately off to start college, and I hope to take some time to process all I have learned.

“It would be an honor to someday be Miss Arkansas, but for now I am just excited to learn from our new Miss Arkansas Camille Cathey,” Bolling says. “She also served as Miss Arkansas’ Teen in 2018, and I am lucky to have her as my mentor.”



Miss Arkansas Pageant

Read more about both the Miss Arkansas and Miss Arkansas’ Teen pageants at missarkansas.org.

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