Shadyside student spreads positivity after being crowned in state pageant
SHADYSIDE — A Shadyside student will head to Arkansa this summer to compete in a national pageant after being crowned Miss Ohio Elementary last month.
Harmony Hildebrand, a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Leona Avenue Middle School, secured the top place in the pageant on Nov. 5 in Dayton, Ohio, advancing to the National Miss Elementary Scholarship Pageant in Arkansas in June.
Prior to competing in the Miss Ohio Elementary pageant, Harmony was the 2022-23 Barnesville Pumpkin Mini Miss and the Post 523 Poppy Queen from 2019-23, where she helped to raise funds for veterans.
Shannan Hildebrand, Harmony’s mother, said Harmony fell in love with pageants after participating in the Pumpkin Fest.
“She just loves the directors and everybody from that pageant. She told me, ‘Mommy, I want to keep going with this.’ I said, ‘As long as you enjoy it and love it, then absolutely,'” she said.
Hildebrand said they did not have high expectations when going into the state pageant, as it was her daughter’s first big competition. Harmony was thrilled when she was crowned.
Harmony said she is most excited about making new friends and being able to participate in events like parades, lunches and meeting people in the community.
She added that she looks forward to staying in a hotel at nationals and meeting her new pageant sisters.
The upcoming pageant has an anti-bullying campaign known as BRAVE, or Be Respectful and Value Everyone – a program Harmony hopes to bring to schools in the Ohio Valley.
“I really hope to start BRAVE in all the local schools and do something to help veterans again this year. I loved meeting the posts from Barnesville and Shadyside last year, as well as Team RWB of Wheeling. I really want to do something with animals this year, too,” she said.
Shannan Hildebrand said participating in the pageants has helped her daughter’s confidence and counteracted some of the bullying she has experienced at school, which is why the BRAVE campaign is so close to their hearts.
Hildebrand said Harmony is a hugger and enjoys making people smile. She said Harmony is also an excellent role model for her younger sister, Lilian, who is following in her sister’s footsteps.
“We’re just so proud of all our kids,” she said.
Harmony’s message to the youth in the Ohio Valley is to “always be kind.”
“You never know what someone else is going through. Be respectful to others and trust in yourself,” she added.
Hildebrand said she and Harmony are grateful for all the family, friends and members of the community who sponsored Harmony in the state pageant.
“If it wasn’t for all of your help, I wouldn’t have been able to get there. With everyone pulling together I was able to live out my dream,” Harmony said.
Harmony is hoping to gather support through local sponsors for the national pageant. Any organizations, businesses or community members interested in sponsoring “Harmony’s Road to Nationals” can email firstname.lastname@example.org.