Time is passing quickly for Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen Taylor Clark as she meets the commitments of her title including her trip to Miss America's Outstanding Teen Pageant.
As she sits in her classrooms at St. John High School, senior Taylor Clark concentrates on her assignments and enjoys hanging out with her friends between classes and after school.
She reviews her weekend activities and, unlike her friends, she has public appearances to make as the reigning 2017 Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen.
Clark usually has some MKOT event every weekend and has been busy meeting her obligations since she was crowned the first week in June. However, the first five weeks after she was crowned were dedicated to just one event, getting ready for the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Fla.
Five weeks was not much time but Clark got busy rehearsing her talent number, selecting outfits and going through a lot of mock interviews before heading off to Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center.
Clark met the other state contestants and they were put to work with photo shoots, video introductions and three days of practice for the pageant production numbers. Then her preliminary competitions began. Clark competed in fitness on Wednesday, talent on Thursday and evening gown on Friday.
With such a short turnaround from the state to the national competition, Clark was glad she had been playing her talent piece, a drum solo to "In the Mood" and "Sing, Sing, Sing," regularly since 2016. The fitness competition was her biggest challenge. She is fit and stays active but admits she was nervous was worried about falling but everything turned out fine and she looked good doing her pushup on the national stage.
The last night of competition, the finalists are introduced and they compete in all the preliminary events again. Contestants are eliminated until a new Miss America's Outstanding Teen is chosen.
Clark did not make the finals and didn't win a preliminary award, she was honored with a pair of other awards. She won the instrumental talent award and the non-finalist talent award, receiving a $500 scholarship for each.
Clark performed a drum solo for her competition to a mash-up of "In the Mood" and "Sing, Sing, Sing." For all her local and state competitions, she has played her drums without microphones but for MAOT, the drums did have mics and she had to quite down her playing because it was overpowering her accompaniment music.
"The talent competition is my favorite. I did well and it sounded really good," Clark said.
She said she thought every competition went well. The interview portion of the competition was the hardest for her. Overall though, she was very happy with her efforts.
"I wouldn't change a thing. I did everything to the best of my ability," Clark said. "I don't have any regrets about my experience at Nationals."
During MAOT, Clark became friends with several contestants and talks with 10 of them every day while she talks with the others at least once a week.
Clark also attended the Miss America Pageant to watch Miss Kansas Krystian Fish compete. There were 45 state teen contestants at Miss America and they had great time reconnecting.
"It was more fun at Miss America. We got to connect and strengthen our friendships," Clark said.
Once the pageants were behind her, Clark got busy with school and tackling her responsibilities as Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen. The teen title is designed so that the title holder can go to school full time and Clark can keep up with her classes and extra curricular activities of band, choir and school play.
Her MKOT appearances include school visits, taking a modeling class and getting to take part in a jazz performance in Kansas City where she got to play her state and national talent show songs. She also got to mentor 24 little girls. She gets to travel a lot and wants to travel more across the state.
Clark and Fish get to appear together, most often at local pageants, where contestants are already being crowned for the 2018 Miss Kansas Pageant.
Fish has been a real benefit for Clark.
"Krystian is always very calm. It can get stressful," Clark said. "She has great advice. It's great to see her."
Part of her duties include raising awareness and funds for the Children's Miracle Network. Clark raised $3,000 before nationals and her goal is to raise another $5,000 before she gives up her crown in June 2018.
The year has passed quickly and she is anxious to continue her journey as Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen.
"We're almost to the halfway point. It's going by so quickly," Clark said. "I've enjoyed my travels so far and I can't wait to see what happens next."