SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – Clark-Shawnee High School grad Elle Smith was crowned Miss USA on Monday night, November 29.

According to a Facebook post by Clark-Shawnee Schools, Smith graduated from the Clark-Shawnee high school with the class of 2016.

Superintendent of Clark-Shawnee Local School District Brian Kuhn released the following statement on Smith’s win:

The Clark-Shawnee Local School District is always proud of its graduates when they take their talents and educational experiences and do amazing things in this world. Ellen Smith is an example of a Shawnee HS alum who engaged in theatrical, vocal music, and instrumental experiences on the high school stage and took those experiences to a larger stage where she serves as an example of the type of students who graduate from Clark-Shawnee. We are all very proud of her and wish her success.

Superintendent Brian Kuhn

The University of Kentucky says Smith was a 2020 journalism graduate and won the title of Miss Kentucky USA in May of 2021. It was her first time competing in a pageant.

“The moment they called my name it was shock and then relief just because there had been so much hard work to get me to that moment,” Smith said. “And I never walked in wanting to win. I wanted to do the best that I could but also know that I had put in the work to be there, put in all the work I needed to do to be on that stage, and I could say that. That’s why I would’ve been happy no matter what.”

After winning Miss USA, the Miss Kentucky title will be given to the runner-up, and Smith will move to Los Angeles to represent the nation for a year, The University of Kentucky said.  She will receive a full salary while in this position.

“There’s no balance right now just because I think you have one year to take full advantage of all the opportunities that are given to you,” Smith said. “And so I am full-fledged trying to go 24/7, which is exhausting at times, but it’ll be so worth it next year when I pass down the crown and I’m like I took advantage of every single opportunity that was given to me over the past 365 days.”

Smith will compete as a delegate in the Miss Universe pageant this December, which takes place in Eliat, Israel.