SU’s Miss Maryland Teen winner makes civics education priority

 

BY SAMUEL STEVENS

Editor in Chief

Freshman Caleigh Shade won Miss Maryland Teen for 2018 out of a field of 71 contestants, and the first SU student to win the title.

The Cumberland, MD native has been in pageants since the age of 14 under a different system. This was her first year competing under the Miss USA Teen rules.

Shade and the other contestants were judged based on interviews, active wear and their evening gown.

The interview component is panel based, and then judges ask two on stage questions about the contestant. One is about the individual and the other is about community service hours and activities.

As the new Miss Maryland Teen, Shade makes appearances on behalf of the organization around the state.

While most of her events have been for state level Best Buddies, an organization she has been a part of since high school, she hopes to do more with SU groups.

“I’m always looking for more appearances, and my director always encourages me to make as many as I possibly can,” she said. “I’d love to do stuff here at school.”

The pageant partners with Best Buddies, DARE, Sparrow Clubs and other service organizations, according to their website.

As a double major in communications and political science, Shade hopes to go to law school and then into political broadcasting.

“My brother’s a politician, so it’s kind of something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. Her brother, Jacob C. Shade, is president of the Allegany County Board of Commissioners.

Shade’s personal platform as Miss Maryland Teen is civics education.

She runs a program called “We the People: Our Voice Our Vote,” which she created three years ago. Its goal is to address the gap in education on government and the political process for elementary and middle school students.

Working on campaigns for state delegates and acceptance into the Hogan Fellowship Program gave her contacts to run the lectures.

We the People brings guest speakers, such as Maryland lawmakers and other title holders, to speak to students.

She says the focus on math and science has limited younger students’ exposure to the political process.

“You don’t get any civics education until your freshman year in high school,” she said.

State educational standards do cover government or US history until grades 9 and 8, respectively.

Their strategy has been to insert themselves directly into schools, rather than focus on lobbying boards of education to change curriculum.

We the People’s speakers in elementary schools focus on how voting affects citizens and its importance, while middle school students are educated on the Electoral College.

The program is non-partisan and does not address issues or party stances in order to avoid controversy and focus on the civic process itself.

“Especially when you’re talking to kids it can really get you in a little bit of trouble,” she said. “We have to keep it very, very non-biased.”

With her new title, she hopes to make an appearance at one middle school and one elementary school in each county.

Shade says the response has been very positive overall, and plans to incorporate the organization as a non-profit in Maryland.

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