Miss Virginia Dot Kelly will promote healthy choices and substance use prevention to students in Virginia elementary schools as part of a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) education and prevention program.
As first runner-up in the statewide contest last year, the 23-year-old, who is pursuing a master’s degree in performing arts leadership and management at Shenandoah University in Winchester, assumed the title and duties of Miss Virginia 2019 when her predecessor, Camille Schrier, was crowned Miss America. With the 2020 pageant competitions postponed until next year due to the ongoing pandemic, both Schrier and Kelly will continue in their respective roles.
In addition to her focus on cultural diversity awareness, Kelly will continue to advocate for substance use prevention efforts on behalf of ABC, which has a long-standing partnership with the Miss Virginia Organization. Last year, both Schrier and Kelly visited 56 elementary schools, reaching 16,001 students, promoting healthy decision-making and leadership through the Miss Virginia School Tour Program. While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the suspension of school visits in March 2020, the program has launched for the 2020-2021 school year with a few adjustments.
Supported by a $17,500 ABC grant, this school year’s tour features adaptive options for elementary schools across the state.
Miss Virginia’s presentation is offered virtually, both live and pre-recorded, through the school’s virtual learning method or in person, following federal, state and local social distancing guidelines.
During visits with school children, Kelly’s messages about making healthy, smart and informed decisions features: what positive choices are and how to make them and how to say “no” when something is not healthy for their bodies; what it means to be a leader in their community and among their friends; and how to identify who is a trusted adult and understand the role they play in their lives.
“As educators around the country are adapting to protocols to keep everyone safe and healthy during these unusual and difficult times, Virginia ABC and the Miss Virginia Organization have also collaborated to meet students where they are with age-appropriate information about drugs and alcohol to protect them from dangerous behaviors as they grow older,” says Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Section Manager Katie Crumble.
Schools interested in scheduling a Miss Virginia presentation may request a school tour stop by visiting abc.virginia.gov/education/programs/miss-va.
The Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Section provides free educational publications which can be ordered online. This includes one created specifically for elementary school students, which is distributed to all tour stop participants. For the order form, visit abc.virginia.gov/education/publications.