From left, Ada resident Clarita Rodriguez, Rodriguez's brother Isaish Fuentes and Konawa resident Bonita Juarez pose for a photo June 30 at The Ada News. Clarita and Bonita, who were appointed state titleholders in a regional International Junior Miss pageant earlier this year, competed in the pageant finals July 3-8 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Eric Swanson/The Ada News

Two Ada girls had their moment in the spotlight last week, when they competed in the International Junior Miss pageant finals in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ada resident Clarita Rodriguez, who was named Miss Sooner State in a regional pageant earlier this year, competed in the pre-teen division in Nashville. Konawa resident Bonita Juarez, 14, was a contestant in the junior teen division.

The finals consisted of three mandatory competitions — interview, fashion and gown — and several optional events. Clarita and Bonita competed in the three mandatory events and one optional event, which involved selling ads for the finals program.

The girls had not received their scores as of Monday, but they said neither of them had finished in the top 15 in their division. However, Clarita received a trophy selling program ads and the girls recieved a plaque commemorating their participation in the finals.

Clarita said Monday she wished she had earned better scores, but she enjoyed competing in the finals and wants to go back next year.

“I liked getting on stage, practicing and actually meeting new people from different states,” she said.

Bonita said she thought she had done well in her first pageant, and the experience boosted her self-confidence.

“I was very shy and stayed in my comfort zone, but with this competition, I tried stepping out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I did a lot of dancing and stuff with other people, which I normally don’t do. It helped me build my confidence, so I feel like I became more social.”

The road to Nashville

Earlier this year, Clarita and Bonita were appointed as state titleholders in the local International Junior Miss pageant. The appointments paved the way for the two girls to represent Oklahoma at the finals in Nashville.

The girls found out they were state titleholders when the pageant’s state director, Jackquelyn O’Donnell, called them with the news in March. O’Donnell is the state director for Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi as well as Oklahoma.

Bonita said she was surprised and shocked when she learned she would be going to Nashville.

“I was happy,” she said.

Clarita also said she was surprised to hear the news.

“I didn’t know what was happening, and it was exciting and all that,” she said.

Kerrie Fuentes, who is Clarita’s mother and Bonita’s cousin, said she wanted to thank Ada Nissan for sponsoring the girls’ trip to Nashville. She also thanked the Pontotoc Animal Welfare Society, which allowed the girls to volunteer so Bonita could gather information for her platform on animal abuse.