HESPERIA -The classroom became the runway at Maple Elementary on Tuesday, as students strutted and posed alongside former stars of "America's Next Top Model."
The models, season 19 runner-up Kiara Belen and season 22 semifinalist Lacey Rogers, were at the Hesperia school site representing The BESTalent Group to speak to students about what it takes to succeed in a career like theirs.
"You know I used to say I always felt like I was famous, and I was just waiting for everyone else to figure it out," Belen, 26, joked with the students, who were in grades fourth through sixth. "Modeling is something I didn't think would be so hard until I did it ... It goes to show that everything requires hard work and dedication."
Maple Elementary Principal Alex Cristales said that the core purpose for having the models as guests in the classroom was to "provide students with information on different careers and 21st century skills."
"This shows them that there's a lot behind the scenes that happening," Cristales said. "Skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity - those go into any career."
"Who can tell me what it means to be confident?" Belen asked the students.
"Have courage" and "stay strong" were a few of their answers, which Belen and Rogers applauded.
"It's important to be confident in yourself ... You don't have to think, 'I have to be better than somebody else.' Just be the best you," Belen said.
When it was time for the catwalk activity, some students were weary of being the center of attention, but as their classmates chanted their names in encouragement, everyone took a turn.
"I think what I loved the most is how supportive you all were of one another," Belen said later.
The connection with "America's Next Top Model" and Maple Elementary was made through fourth grade teacher Terri Eddy, whose daughter, Heather, is a makeup artist who got into modeling and acting through The BESTalent Group.
BESTalent, based in Central City, offers free workshops for children and young adults who are interested in becoming models, actors, singers and dancers.
"We're a one-stop shop for people who are aspiring to break into the industry," BESTalent Executive Director Michelle Lyons said. "We're excited to see all these young, talented kids here who have a lot of potential."
BESTalent will be at the Hawthorne Suites in Victorville from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday hosting auditions for anyone interested in modeling, acting, singing and dancing.
Charity Lindsey may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-951-6245. Follow her on twitter @DP_Charity.