Taylor Clark comes home to St. John and spends time at school with friends

Edward J. Naughton
St. John News
Miss Kansas 2021 Taylor Clark spends time teaching her fellow Tigers how to drum last week in St. John.

USD 350 graduate Taylor Clark, now the reigning Miss Kansas 2021, visited her hometown of St. John last week and spoke to elementary students about the path her life has taken so far. She has been able to combine her love of music with her year-in-service responsibilities as Miss Kansas and travels around the country giving special presentations. She was overjoyed to come home to visit with her hometown Tigers October 13.

For their part, the children enjoyed her drum-solo musical presentations and wanted more, so she played several songs on the drums, each number were met with smiles, enthusiasm and applause. 

Volunteers came up when called for by Miss Kansas. She gave them all drum sticks to bang on the buckets at her prompting. They played a little ditty on drum sticks together. 

Clark talked to the children about playing drums together like this is an activity that promotes unity between people. 

She talked about not succeeding at her initial goal of becoming Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen in Kansas in 2016, though she did have people around her who encouraged her enough so that she did not give up on the prospects she held for 2017. 

She talked to the children about how the competition went in 2016 and a little disappointment was felt in not winning that year. 

Although she was not chosen as Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen in the year 2016, that was only her first attempt. She said that really she had to take time to think about what she was going to do next. 

Clark said she was glad to finally make the decision to ready herself for the 2017 Kansas Outstanding Teen competition which thankfully she did win. 

She said that she really wanted to learn to play drums well because the activity and excitement of drum playing helps her come out from under her little cloud of shyness. 

Clark said there was one particular person in her life who especially helped her. He knew her strengths and weaknesses well. He saw something in her and that kind of encouragement to go on and keep trying made her potential for success very high. 

She talked about her love of performing even if in minor parts in plays while attending school in St. John. She was also proud to be a part of musical presentations in Great Bend and other places in Kansas as a teenager. 

Clark said that to be in the competition for Miss Kansas you have to formulate a social impact initiative. Her initiative is Sound for Common Ground: Music Connects. 

While traveling to various towns and cities in Kansas in her role as Miss Kansas, Clark is working to connect her social impact initiative with the Miss America and Miss Kansas organizations.

Clark also is working closely with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and with the Kansas Department of Transportation, providing education, establishing relationships, and learning more about the people of Kansas, young and old, as she advocates during her year as Miss Kansas.

Clark claimed the title of Miss Kansas with a drum performance, so on October 13th visiting the children of St. John, she wowed them with a drum solo three times. 

She has been very happy to find confidence especially now that she has been crowned Miss Kansas. She is getting used to a very busy routine. She generally gets up very early in the morning. 

She is trying her best to take care in making personal choices, and with exercise, nutrition, and practicing many hours in musical instruments which are all part of her daily routine, not to mention traveling a lot and giving important presentations on the road to various places around the great state of Kansas.

She related some of her childhood experiences like receiving her first drum set at age 8, and her scholastic experiences while growing up in St. John, thankful for her overall educational experience in USD 350. 

Towards the end of her presentation she wanted all of the teachers or administrators present in the room who knew her when she was in school and of course helped her in many ways, to come up and take some photographs with her.

Clark is the daughter of proud parents Bill and Natalie Clark of St. John. She has an older brother who lives in Winfield, KS.

"It was so good to come home to St. John last night and actually sleep in my own bed," Clark said.

Part of her calling and responsibility as Miss Kansas is to make over 400 appearances in her year-of-service, so Clark is happy that a very nice and reliable vehicle has been given to her for travel use. Of course she logs thousands of miles on that vehicle every month. 

She said that every tank of fuel she puts in the vehicle while fulfilling her responsibilities as Miss Kansas is paid for by the Miss Kansas Organization which is a state licensee of the Miss America Organization.

Clark will represent Kansas at the 2021 Miss America Competition to be broadcast live on NBC. The event is scheduled to be held at the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, in December 2021. 

She will perform a drum solo for her talent and compete with 50 other young women from across the nation for the title of Miss America 2022. No doubt a majority of people from her hometown of St. John will be watching every moment of the show on television.

Miss Kansas 2021 Taylor Clark poses with current USD 350 Principal Blaine White during her visit to St. John-Hudson schools last week.