What began as a fun hobby for Serenity Grace Russell has turned into a multi-title championship run, as the 6-year-old competes in scholarship pageants and learns the value of community service and respect.
For each pageant, participants are required to do a certain number of community service hours, and each time, Serenity has gone above and beyond, doing 75 hours for her most recent project alone when 10 was the requirement.
Serenity has often focused on the homeless cause, doing local donation drives for both clothing and food, then personally delivered the donations and toiletry bags she’d packaged to those in need.
Getting into the groove
Serenity’s first pageant was a Halloween one, which she said she loved because her birthday is just a few days before the holiday, and she received the second highest score.
“I couldn’t stop wearing it every day,” Serenity recalled of the dress her mother Dana Russell had decorated for her. “It was a plain white dress and then we added all the (rhinestones and spiders).”
It was that very first pageant that solidified things for Serenity and her family, as she was a natural.
“We were trying to get her to come out of her shell,” Serenity’s aunt Desiree said. “Now there’s always girls who are happy when Serenity wins … because she made so many friends and is just magnetic.”
Serenity went from shy to outgoing, with her favorite part of pageants being the interview portion, as “that’s when you bond with the judges.”
Her favorite interview questions entail her dreams and aspirations, where she gets to share her passion for science and Saturn, which she said is her favorite, along with animals and art.
Taking home the crowns
In July 2020, Serenity won Miss Santa Clarita Valley Jr. Elementary then went on to win Miss California Jr. Elementary America, a state pageant, back in November before being crowned Miss Elementary America, 1st Grade, in June, which came with a $5,000 scholarship, among other prizes.
Now, Serenity is also looking forward to promoting B.R.A.V.E. (Building Respect and Values for Everyone), the official national platform of Miss High School America that not only promotes kindness but is also an anti-bullying campaign for youth.
Serenity has already done various B.R.A.V.E. projects, like packing school supplies for students for back to school, but is most looking forward to sharing the message with her classmates as she returns to in-person learning.
For Serenity, pageants have not only brought her out of her shell but also begun to teach her important values, which she now is excited to pass on to her peers.