Miss Montana urges students to believe in themselves

Kaitlin Mosley, Staff Writer

Always feeling left out, not having any friends, and being the odd one out hasn’t stopped Alexis Wineman from being royalty.

Wineman, the current Miss Montana, didn’t know she had autism until she was 11 years old. When she and her family found out, her parents were relieved, she said. She was having a lot of trouble in school, failing her classes, and her speech wasn’t very good.

Wineman didn’t have any friends; she admits that she was the weird kid that sat by herself at the lunch table. She did, however, make one friend. It was a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal she got as a present. She took it to show and tell one day, and he became a student, she said. The teacher asked if she could keep Winnie in the classroom, with his own desk and everything. He was a very good listener while she was telling him everything, and he never made fun of her once, she said.

She started with speech therapy when she was a sophomore in high school. She still can’t pronounce her R’s. People ask her where she’s from, and each time she says something different. In school, she said she tried to avoid using words and didn’t talk that much.

 “Junior and senior year were the best years,” Wineman said.

She finally made some friends and got more involved, including competeing in cross-country for seven years. She liked how it was about competing against herself and trying to improve her score. Even though she wasn’t the best, she said, she still enjoyed it. What she really liked about it is she finally had someone who had her back, after so many years of having to watch it herself.

“No one else had my back so I had my own,” Wineman said.

She also tried speech and drama. Even though she still had speech problems she tried it. She was a mime in one of her performances so she didn’t have to talk. She said she really enjoys performing and making people laugh, and she qualified for state every year.

Wineman tried out for cheerleading her freshman year; there were 14 girls on the squad and her mom was the coach. She wasn’t much of a girly-girl and hates to wear dresses, skirts, and heels. She admits that she would rather play video games. With all those girls on the cheerleading squad, Wineman said no one ever trusted one another and there was a lot of drama.

She didn’t try out her sophomore year; she said she was too lazy. But her junior year she decided to try it out again. This time there were only eight girls and there was a rule that there couldn’t be any drama. Anyone who started drama got kicked off the squad. She made captain her senior year and was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a cheerleader. Being in the parade was just like freshman year for her with captains from all over the country, she said.

Wineman didn’t think she would graduate because she had at least two F’s. She cried all the time because she would have been the first person not to graduate in her family. She has a twin sister who she said is so smart she even skipped a grade.

By her junior year, people started to back off from bullying her. And when people did tease her, it didn’t bother her.

Wineman said people will bully you,but she encourages students to not listen and tell someone. It won’t stop until you tell someone, Wineman said.

She made lots of friends and got more involved in school. She quickly got her grades up from D’s and F’s, to A’s and B’s. She was on student council and graduated 14th in her class, beating most of the people who had teased her.

“Being different is amazing.”