Jr. Miss a lifelong goal of Davenport’s

Published 7:56 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One of Chilton County’s own will compete for the title of 2010 Alabama Junior Miss and more than $50,000 in scholarship money this Saturday in Montgomery.

Jana Davenport, Jemison High School senior and the daughter of Shawn and Vanda Davenport, will compete among 52 girls from around the state in categories of poise, talent, physical fitness, scholastics and interview.

For her talent, Davenport will perform “Shall We Dance” from “The King and I,” which helped earn her the top spot in Chilton County’s Junior Miss in September.

Ten days of rigorous practices will culminate this weekend at Fraser Memorial United Methodist Church, beginning with preliminaries Friday night at 7, followed by performances Saturday at 1 p.m. and finals Saturday night at 7.

Because contestants are not allowed to contact anyone by phone or e-mail during their 10-day stay, Davenport could not be reached directly. She reportedly loves her host family, Michael and Lisa Jones, and her roommate. Meanwhile, she is taking her Paw Paw’s advice to be herself.

“I kept thinking while getting ready for this that it was pointless, there was no chance that I would win. But now I realize it’s not pointless because God has a purpose for me being here, whatever that may be,” she wrote in a letter to her mother, saying she had been encouraged by scripture.

For Davenport, the road to Junior Miss started at a young age. She developed a love for musical theater in fifth grade, singing in the Chilton Civic Chorale’s presentation of “The Sound of Music.”

Then, in sixth grade, a mother of a Junior Miss winner encouraged her to work toward the program.

“Setting that goal helped Jana keep her GPA up and stay involved in community leadership activities. It was an excellent program to motivate her through the years,” Davenport’s mother said.

Davenport studied voice with Trudy DeLoach and Dana Lawrence. Her vocal performance Saturday cannot exceed 90 seconds. She is also learning an eight-minute physical fitness routine, which she prepared for at Cornerstone Fitness & Wellness.

“She’s also a cheerleader, so she stays pretty active,” her mother said.

Gwen Davis, Chilton County Junior Miss program chairman, said singers typically do well at the state level.

“She’s just a well-rounded individual,” Davis said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a singer.”

There are extra tickets available for the competition. Anyone who is interested may contact Vanda Davenport at 688-4446.