Vancouver teen experiencing life ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’

Skyview High School junior Payton May claims title as Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen

VANCOUVER — It’s truly been a memorable two years since Payton May moved to Vancouver.

The Skyview High School junior continued her whirlwind of recent success when she was named Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen during a competition held May 25-26 at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien. The uniquely talented May will now advance to the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition to be held in Orlando, Florida in July.

Skyview High School junior Payton May was recently named Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen. She will advance to compete in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition in late July in Orlando, Florida. Photo is courtesy of Jermaine Mendoza
Skyview High School junior Payton May was recently named Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen. She will advance to compete in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition in late July in Orlando, Florida. Photo is courtesy of Jermaine Mendoza

“I first heard about the program from a friend I had grown up singing with, and she raved about how amazing and fun her experience had been,’’ May told ClarkCountyToday.com about her decision to enter the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen program. “When I moved to Vancouver my sophomore year, I heard about a local preliminary pageant happening where I competed for and won Miss Clark County’s Outstanding Teen, which is essentially what started my journey in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization. My growth both as an individual and as a titleholder that year was incredible, and I was shocked by how much my confidence and public speaking skills grew, how many friends I had made, and the newfound love I had for volunteering and service work.’’

As Miss Clark County’s Outstanding Teen, May competed in the state pageant last year as well. This year, her victory was the first by a Clark County teen at the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen pageant in 12 years, since Genay Tucker claimed the title in 2007.

Among the other competitors at the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen competition were three from Clark County — AnnMarie Vickery, the 2019 Miss Clark County Outstanding Teen; Sandra Fachiol, Miss Columbia River’s Outstanding Teen; and Danielle Grawonski, Miss La Center’s Outstanding Teen. Both Vickery and Fachiol finished in the Top 10.

Vancouver resident Payton May reacts after being named Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen. Photo courtesy of Sheri Rainey Backous
Vancouver resident Payton May reacts after being named Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen. Photo courtesy of Sheri Rainey Backous

When May was announced the winner of the pageant, she was in disbelief (view video here):

“I was so incredibly excited,’’ May said. “I honestly never thought that I could become Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen, especially after only placing in the top 10 last year, so I was truly in complete and utter shock.’’

Contestants of the state competition are judged in several categories, including a private interview, talent and an evening gown segment during which they’re asked questions on the stage. May revealed her platform in an essay she wrote entitled, “Your Voice Matters: Educating the Voters of Tomorrow.’’

In the essay, May wrote: “Before the end of the year, I want to have registered over 1,000 new voters, and to have taught students throughout Washington the importance of their voice in our government. With the support from the Oregon and Washington Bus Project, The League of Women Voters, and Kids Voting USA, I believe I can make a real difference as Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen not only in Vancouver, but in Washington as a whole.’’

Payton May is shown here performing the national anthem at the Ridgefield Raptors’ Opening Night Tuesday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. Photo by Mike Schultz
Payton May is shown here performing the national anthem at the Ridgefield Raptors’ Opening Night Tuesday at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. Photo by Mike Schultz

For the talent competition, May performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’’ Ironically, May had performed the same song at the same venue when she was in the second grade.

“I’ve always been a sucker for classics, so songs like ‘What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ have always been my go-to,’’ May said. “I love the feeling that song gives me, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.’’

May was awarded a $5,000 scholarship and other prizes for being named Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen. In addition to being named Miss Clark County’s Outstanding Teen last year, May was also named Miss Greater Vancouver’s Outstanding Teen earlier this year. And, at Skyview, May was named Associated Student Body president for the 2019-2020 school year as well as president of the DECA program. In all, it seems to be quite an impact by the teen since moving to Vancouver from the Seattle area with her parents in August of 2017.

“Ultimately, I really want people, especially young girls, to see me as a role model,’’ May said. “Although kids see the crown and sash and think I’m a big celebrity or real-life princess, I want them to know that anything I’ve done can be accomplished through hard work and passion, and that kindness and respect will take you farther in life than any title will. Especially with this larger platform, it’s critical to me that I represent myself and this organization to the best of my ability, and hopefully inspire the next generation of dreamers and change-makers.’’

Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen Payton May (center) is shown here with her parents, Debra (left) and Tom May (right). Payton said her parents are her biggest influence. “My parents for sure; they are by far the most supportive people in my life, and I would be lost without their immense guidance and love. I feel so grateful to have people in my life that support any endeavor I set my mind to, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.’’ Photo courtesy of Sheri Rainey Backous
Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen Payton May (center) is shown here with her parents, Debra (left) and Tom May (right). Payton said her parents are her biggest influence. “My parents for sure; they are by far the most supportive people in my life, and I would be lost without their immense guidance and love. I feel so grateful to have people in my life that support any endeavor I set my mind to, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.’’ Photo courtesy of Sheri Rainey Backous

May confessed that she’s a little overwhelmed with the thought of competing at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition in late July.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m definitely a little overwhelmed with everything I have to do this year, including preparing for the national pageant in just five short weeks, but I truly wouldn’t change it for the world,’’ she said. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to serve Washington, and I’ve never been more excited to have the busiest year of my life.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without this program, and I’m so thankful for everything it’s taught me,’’ May said. “Because of my involvement both at the local and state level, I’ve pushed myself to be a better ‘me’ everyday, whether that be pursuing higher education after high school, volunteering throughout my state and community, dedicating myself to my craft, or increasing civic participation among young adults. The possibility of growth throughout this organization is limitless, and I know I will take this program, and title with me for the rest of my life.’’

For more information, visit www.missclarkcountywa.org or www.mwoteen.org.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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