“Are you a queen?”
“I like your crown.”
“Do you live in a castle?”
These are just some of the questions you’ll hear if you follow Miss Michigan into an elementary school. Twenty-four year old Emily Sioma has heard it all as she’s crisscrossed the state visiting with students as part of March is Reading Month.
“I’ve been to at least one school every [school] day in March – sometimes two,” Sioma says.
On Monday, students at St. Patrick School got the royal treatment as Miss Michigan visited every classroom to read a book, answer questions and pose for photos.
Visit Highlights Importance of Reading
Sioma’s visit to St. Patrick School was made possible by parent Juliana Morano whose daughters participate in the Miss Michigan Princess Program. Miss Michigan made a stop in every classroom from kindergarten through eighth grade and brought along three favorite picture books:
- And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
- A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester
- Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
“As a kid, I was always reading with my mom,” Sioma says. As a young child, she was enthralled with Eric Carle’s book, and once she got older, she worked her way through series such as Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Artemis Fowl. Now, with her busy schedule as Miss Michigan, she finds herself gravitating more to short stories than longer novels.
However, Sioma is aware that not every child grows up reading at home, making March is Reading Month all that more important. “Reading is what gives you the perspective and knowledge to set yourself up for success,” she says.
Miss Michigan: Beauty and Brains
“That was a good one,” one boy exclaimed after Sioma finished reading And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. The St. Patrick School kindergarten class had sat in rapt attention throughout the story. Once it was done, they had a chance to ask their most pressing questions about Sioma’s crown and duties.
Meanwhile, the third grade classroom listened to Her Right Foot and then discussed what they knew about the Statue of Liberty. While they already knew a number of fun facts about the iconic structure, the book revealed new information, including the fact that the Statue of Liberty has a raised foot and is actually on the move.
Students told Miss Michigan about their “Not Yet” board which listed the things they were still working on mastering – from multiplication to humility – and Sioma shared how she had to try multiple times before being crowned Miss Michigan. “Don’t give up on your dream,” she told them.
The importance of being a good role model underlined all Sioma’s conversations with students. She told them about her tap dancing, volunteer work with the Children’s Miracle Network and going to school at the University of Michigan. The 2016 UM graduate majored in women’s studies and was in the first class to graduate with the school’s sociology minor in law, justice and social change.
While Miss Michigan, as part of the Miss America program, has its roots as a beauty pageant, today’s competition is a scholarship program. Contestants go through a rigorous talent and interview process. “We do walk around in beautiful dresses,” Sioma notes, but no one wins on looks alone. Miss Michigan and Miss America must also be articulate, confident and poised.
Sioma will be Miss Michigan until June when she will hand off the honor to a new woman. However, she will always remember her unforgettable year wearing the crown, and students at St. Patrick School aren’t likely to soon forget the day they were read to by royalty.