CLAREMORE, Okla. — Miss Oklahoma Addison Price visited Verdigris Upper Elementary school last Friday, fresh from a third runner-up placing at the 2020 Miss America competition.

Price talked to students about her struggle with dyslexia, her dream and dedication to becoming Miss Oklahoma, and the meaning and importance of hope.

Standing in front of a crowd of third, fourth and fifth grade students, Price said, “Harry Potter, Steve Jobs, the inventor of Apple, and me, all have something in common, can somebody guess what it is?”

Dozens of hands shot up in the air. The girl chosen to answer guessed that they all liked talking to people, which made Price smile.

“We all are dyslexic,” Price said.

When reading, Price said, “The letters all crunch together. The whole sentence will crunch together. Sometimes lines even flip for me. So imagine sitting in a classroom and trying to read in front of all of your friends, and not being able to even put together one word. That would be kind of embarrassing right?”

To avoid awkward situations while attending school in Edmond, Price would read ahead in the book the class was reading and try to memorize the section she would have to read aloud.

Sometimes she would even take the book home the night before to try to memorize all the paragraphs in the chapter, just in case she was ever called on in class.

“Because I wasn’t a good reader, because I had dyslexia, I always thought I wasn’t good enough,” Price said. “That’s where that shyness cam from, that’s where my face getting red in class came from, and me thinking that I couldn’t do nothing and wasn’t smart enough. Because of this one thing in my life, I was going to sell myself way short and say that I wasn’t good … I almost let that stop me from going after my dream.”

It took a long time for her to learn the lesson, “Different isn’t bad, it’s just different, and a lot of times, the things that make you different actually make you unique.”

Price’s dream was to be Miss Oklahoma, which she started pursuing in 2015, copeting in Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen.

She didn’t make it. But she dusted herself off and tried again.

In 2016, she was honored to be given the title of Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen. During her year as Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen she spent her time developing service-learning opportunities for teens and partnering with a variety of organizations including: Hope for Soap, YMCA, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Red Cross, Fine Arts Institute, Mobile Meals, and many more.

In college, she decided to compete in the Miss Oklahoma contest.

In 2019, she won Miss Tulsa and Miss Oklahoma, in addition to the Preliminary Night Newcomer Talent Award, On-Stage Interview Award, Outstanding Rookie Interview Award, Private Interview Award, and Outstanding Rookie of the Year Award. And in December, she won a $15,000 scholarship for placing fourth in the Miss America competition.

The five stages of competition are interview, onstage interview, evening gown, social impact and talent.

Price’s talent is dancing, and her 90-second routine includes more than 60 turns.

To explain the social impact portion, Price urged students to think about what they want their own impact on the world to be by asking three questions.

“What is important to you?”

“What are you passionate about?”

“How can you make a difference?”

For Price, the answers to those questions were connecting with people, learning from other people’s stories, and sharing her story in the hopes that it would help others.

“I believe if we share what our struggles are, if we share what we are having a hard time with, or what we’ve had to overcome, I believe that can help somebody else,” she said. “I know that by being a friend to people, listening to their stories, and taking the time to share the things that I was so insecure about, so scared about, so that it can make a difference in somebody else’s life.”

“If you think in your head, what if I’m not good enough? What if I’m not smart enough? What if I never accomplish that dream or that goal that I have? Know that those are all the same thoughts that I had, every single day,” Price said. “I’d look in the mirror and say, there’s no way Addi, that you could be Miss Oklahoma. You’re not smart enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re too scared to talk in front of other people.”

Price said that by changing the way she was thinking and the things she told herself when she looked in the mirror, she was able to overcome her doubts and pursue her dreams.

“I believe the word hope has truly been what has helped me accomplish my goal and my dream. I don’t just mean having hope that you will get there one day,” she said.

According to Price’s definition, the word hope is an acronym.

“The H, to me, stands for hope, never give up,” Price said, asking the kids to shout “Never give up,” at the top of their lungs.

The O stands for optimism, she said, urging the kids to shout, “I can succeed.”

The P stands for patience.

“That means patience with yourself and patience with others,” Price said.

“I am patient,” the children shouted.

And the E, Price said, stands for empower.

“Don’t be scared to ask for help. Don’t be scared to use your voice,” Price said.

A cacophony of around 300 little voices shouted, “I have a voice.”

Price encouraged the students that if they follow those steps, they will accomplish their goals.

“But when you accomplish your dream, that’s not where it stops,” Price said. “Continue to dream big dreams.”

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