Key to success: Springwood senior goes to Miss America’s Teen

Published 11:00 am Thursday, January 18, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Miss Georgia Teen Charlie Key was a finalist at the Miss American Teen competition placing 11th out of 51 contestants. The LaGrange native, and Springwood School student, was named Miss Georgia Teen last year and will continue her duties until her successor is named at the next competition this June. 

The Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition is based in LaGrange. Key has been active in the LaGrange and Greater Valley Area communities. She has acted as president of student government for both the Springwood and AISA, as well as captain of the school’s varsity soccer team. She serves as historian for the LaGrange Youth Council.

Key said the world of Miss America competitions has undeniably shaped her. 

Email newsletter signup

“Being involved in Miss America, you’re forced to get to know yourself because you can’t show the judges who you are if you don’t know who you are…I was forced to get to know who Charlie is aside from pageants,” Key said. 

The self-reflection led her to start a ministry called ‘Be A Light. She visits churches and schools to speak about her faith. She also started a podcast in 2021 interviewing those that ae act as lights in their communities. 

“You have a light to shine by, and you shine that light by simply being who God made you to be,” Key said.

According to her Miss America bio, Key has competed in the Miss America Organization since she was 13 years old, having first won the Miss Georgia Princess competition at 11. In 2022, she was crowned Miss Cobb County Teen. In 2023, she was named Miss Georgia Teen.

Her community service initiative is “Healthy Moms, Strong Babies.” Key has worked closely with the non-profit, March of Dimes, which focuses on improving maternal and infant heathcare in the country. Key’s mother is a women’s healthcare nurse. She has been a team captain for the organization for over five years and is created with the creation of the nationally recognized social media campaign, March of Dimes Mondays. 

For her question during the Q&A portion of the competition, Key was asked how mothers can get access to prenatal care. 

“I got to share with everyone that the March of Dimes has mom and baby mobile health centers, which travel to low access areas and provide women with pre-prenatal care,” Key recounted. “It’s super important that women have these resources because in America we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. And that shouldn’t be the case.”

Key said the difficult parts of the process were contained to quick changes and wearing heels. And while Miss North Carolina Teen won the coveted Miss America Teen crown and sash, Key reflects on the experience positively. 

“All of Miss America is not what you would think of when you think of a pageant. It’s not just girls walking on a stage and getting a crown because they’re pretty, it’s so much hard work behind the scenes that so many people don’t see,” Key said. 

“I can now say I have friends in every single state,” Key said. “It’s allowed me to meet people from all walks of life and build relationships with them and impact their lives in a positive way.”

She added that the experience taught her about hard work, being involved in her community, public speaking and engaging with those around her. Key praised the Miss America organization for being the number one scholarship provider for young women in the country.

“That’s something that’s so powerful about the organization is that for so long, they’ve been providing money for women to pursue education,” Key said.

She will continue on in her position as Miss Georgia Teen until her successor is crowned. Looking forward, Key and her sister, Kitty, have auditioned for the 22nd season of American Idol. Key has been singing and performing since the age of 5. The sisters are a country vocal duo.  

Through her scholarship funds, she will be attending the University of Alabama in the Honors college next fall. Key wants to major in communication with a concentration in sports broadcast journalism. She said her ultimate goal is to report on Formula One racing.