October 6, 2005
Arkalalah has special place in heart of Queen Alalah finalist
From the Kiddie Parade to finishing second in the Little Miss Arkalalah contest, Sarah Coury has loved every minute of Arkalalah.
Now the Cowley College sophomore finds herself as a finalist for Queen Alalah LXXIV, to be crowned at 8 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Robert Brown Theatre on Cowley’s Arkansas City campus.
Coury, the daughter of Marilyn Coury and Tom Coury, both of Arkansas City, reacted like a lot of Ark City natives when she was told she was a finalist.
“I started jumping up and down and screaming, and I accidentally hung up on her,” said Coury, who got the call from Melissa Hollister, a member of the college’s Queen’s Committee. “I called her right back. I am so excited.”
Coury, a liberal arts major, has one older sister, Kim Swopes, 33, and an older brother, Eli Coury, 24. She is attending Cowley on a Student Government Association Scholarship, as she is vice president of the organization. She also is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Act One, Campus Christian Fellowship, and the CC Singers. She also has a chorus part in the fall musical “Oliver.”
She works as a lifeguard at Paris Park Pool and at the Arkansas City High School pool, gives swimming lessons year round, and helps with Cowley’s recreational swimming class held Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She’s also a “big sister” to Arkansas City third-grader Nikki Schootz in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Cowley County.
Coury looks forward to this time of year.
“Just getting to have memories of being in the seventy-fourth Arkalalah, meeting new people, seeing old friends and playing dress up is what I’m looking forward to,” Coury said. “You get to learn so much about people when getting involved in extracurricular events. This just happens to be a huge event for me.”
When Coury reached high school, she participated in the marching band and flag corps competitions during Arkalalah.
“Then I’d run back and try to get in on the floats,” she said.
When she was 5, she was a finalist for Little Miss Arkalalah. As a youngster, she participated in the Kiddie Parade, winning first place in different categories year after year, and other festival events. A veteran of about six coronations, Coury said the thought of being a Queen Alalah finalist always was in the back of her mind.
“I thought it would be cool,” she said. “But I thought, there’s no way I’d be that cool and get people to vote for me. You have to know a lot of people, be a good student and be outgoing.”
The outgoing 19-year-old hadn’t planned to go to Cowley. But March 12, 2004, changed her life and her college plans.
“My first choice was Pittsburg State,” Coury said. “Then I was involved in a near-fatal car crash.”
Coury’s boyfriend at the time had taken her home, and the couple was sitting in his truck in Coury’s driveway when a drunk driver lost control of a vehicle, left the highway and slammed into them. Coury’s boyfriend was injured, but he managed to knock out the back window and crawl out. But it took rescue personnel nearly an hour to extract Coury, who suffered three cracked ribs, facial swelling, and a hematoma that still exists on her upper thigh. She was nearly killed, and spent nearly three days in the intensive care unit of the hospital in Arkansas City. The accident occurred just hours after Coury returned from a vocal music audition at PSU.
“It hurts all of the time,” Coury said of the ache in her thigh. “I was going to counseling for a long time. Some days were better than others dealing with the post traumatic stress disorder that seemed to take over my life.”
Her goal of studying fashion merchandising at PSU delayed at the very least, Coury enrolled at Cowley, where she has been very involved.
“I’m very pleased with what Cowley’s done for me,” Coury said. “I’m adapting to this. Last year, I got to live at home. This year, I’m living in the dorms. I love it. It’s fun. It’s been a learning experience for me. Being from Ark City if you live at home and go to Cowley its not like you’re even going to college. However, living in the dorms is like a whole other town inside A.C. You get a totally different experience living in the dorms than living at home.”
She hasn’t decided where to transfer after Cowley.
“I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason,” Coury said. “This has been the toughest year to deal with.”
Coury, who credits her sister Kim for being the “backbone of the family,” said she’s made positive changes in her life since enrolling at Cowley.
“I think I’ve become more passionate and determined in what I want for myself, whether it involves friends, school, anything,” she said. “I really care about people’s feelings. Being here has opened my eyes to lots of new people and new things. I honestly never thought Cowley would be so much fun, but these will be the best memories. I think it’s helped me prepare for what’s going to come very soon.”
In her spare time, Coury enjoys singing, dancing, scrapbooking, hanging out with friends, reading and writing.
“I try to write songs,” she said.
She’s also a huge fan of dodgeball.
“There’s a big group of us that gets together to play dodgeball,” Coury said. “It is so much fun.”
Coury’s parents attended Cowley. In fact, a piece of artwork titled “Our World,” in which they helped produce, still hangs in one of the stairwells in Galle-Johnson Hall.
When Arkalalah arrives, Coury will try to find time to watch some of the band competition.
“That’s my favorite part because that was my life during Arkalalah for all four years of high school and middle school,” she said. “That, and watching the flag shows so early in the morning. And I love the big parade on Saturday.”
Coury said she’s proud to be a part of such a long-standing Arkansas City tradition.
“Even if I don’t win, it’s just an honor,” she said. “Some people who aren’t from Ark City have no clue. It’s an honor to be in the top five because that means there are faculty, staff and students who look up to you!”