DAYTON — Rachel Stewart Castle is the 2020 National Captivating Ambassador Queen. Her platform was promoting positive community connections.
Why did she choose to compete in the pageant?
“Captivating Pageants is a very unique system, and there are so many attributes I love about the program,” Castle said in a magazine interview. “As a plus-size model and competitor, unfortunately, I am not welcome in all pageant systems, due to my body shape. That is not the case with Captivating. We welcome all women…., and we mean ALL women. Captivating’s motto is ‘Be you, be different, be Captivating.’ Our passion is recognizing and celebrating everyone for who they are, and we encourage all women to express that by being their best and most unique selves throughout our phases of competition: Personal interview, fitness wear, fashion wear, evening wear, and on-stage question. We truly want to see the real essence of each individual person throughout the pageant weekend, and in their social media promotions. I felt at home at Captivating, had a great time, and made many new friends.”
“She was born and raised in Arcanum,” said her mother, Annette Stewart. “She has an amazing platform about working women in a man’s world.”
Castle attended two high schools in Darke County; Faith Christian (1983-86 and 1994-96) and Franklin-Monroe (1986-94).
“I graduated from Faith Christian in Greenville in 1996,” said Castle, also the daughter of Rex Stewart. “I was involved at both schools in cheerleading, going to national competition my senior year in Florida, and was named a US All-Star cheerleader that year. I also cheered with Darke County All-Stars. In 1996, our squad won many awards, including our bid to compete at Nationals at Miami-Dade College for SCORE International. We cheered all the way to the Association of Christian Schools International Ohio State Basketball Finals, which our team won. It was very special that my brother was a starter on varsity on the team who won the state finals.”
She said she was also active in choir, drama, and music in both high schools and played piano throughout her school years and beyond. Her piano teacher was Lynn Jay of Arcanum.
“4-H was really important to me, and I completed 10 years of 4-H, serving on the Jr. Fairboard, Jr. Leadership Club, president of the Blue Angels 4-H Club, coordinator of the Darke County Food & Fashion Board Annual Fair Fashion Show, member of Swine Koolers 4-H Club, State Fair Clock Trophy Winner in Interior Design in 1994, 1995 Darke County Pork Queen, and my favorite was serving as the 1996 Darke County Jr. Fair Queen. In 1997, I made the Top 16 Finals round out of 73 girls competing for the Ohio State Queen of Queens title. I was honored to be chosen as one of the first Ohio 4-H Ambassadors for Darke County.”
She was also active in FFA, participating in the All-Ohio State FFA Choir, attending both the State and National conventions, and participating on the Parliamentary Procedure Team.
“One of my favorite activities is serving as a judge for the Darke County Jr. Fair King and Queen Pageant, and attending the fair to see all of the Jr. Fair projects and shows. I have actually met quite a few former county fair kings and queens in my pageant life since my Darke County days! I also enjoy answering questions and helping other young women and men as they compete in pageants. I serve as a judge all over the state of Ohio for many different pageant systems, and it is one of my most favorite volunteer activities.”
Castle believes she is the only female in Darke County to serve as both Miss Annie Oakley and as Darke Co. Jr. Fair Queen.
“At 15, I was one of the youngest Miss Annie Oakley winners and absolutely loved traveling to more than 40 parades, giving speeches, and representing the Annie Oakley Festival Committee all over Ohio and Indiana,” she said. “I have always admired Annie Oakley’s determination, resourcefulness, confidence, and drive. To represent her namesake was and is a great honor.”
Castle earned her bachelor of arts from Capital University in Liberal and Professional Studies with concentrations in English and Communications. Her master’s in Human Development is from the University of Dayton. And, she also holds a Master’s Certificate in Leadership from the University of Dayton Center for Leadership.
Since graduating from high school, she has been a news writer and editor, freelance and for the Christian Citizen newspaper; music teacher for a private studio and for Dayton Public Schools; director of church music at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church; in Federal Civil Service at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for the U.S. Air Force: Media and community relations; executive speech-writer; Workforce Development Lead Program analyst; Strategic Plan Lead Program manager; director of Partnerships.
She was also with the Dayton Development Coalition as director of the defense programs, and with P E Systems, Inc. as senior program manager.
She now resides in Dayton with her husband of 19 years, Shaun Castle, who is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard, and currently works in for the Department of Defense.
“My community service centers around supporting our military members, wounded warriors, Gold Star and Blue Star Families, and veterans,” she said. “I am involved with the MyVeteran Community Board, Warrior Weekend to Remember, Miami Valley Military Affairs Committee, Wreaths Across America, Veterans Moving Forward, Mutt Strut for Mecial Service Dogs, and am an advisory member of the new Dayton Chapter of Blue Star Families.”
Castle said she also enjoys using her creative and musical skills to sing and play piano at many churches around the area. She directed the Worship Design Team for five years at Greene Street United Methodist Church in Piqua, including leading two capital campaign teams aimed at restoring the historic building and raising funds to assist in repairing critical infrastructure.
“It was such a special time to serve at Greene Street where my brother, Kenneth Stewart, was serving as the senior pastor,” she said. “He is now pastor of Wares Chapel.”
Contact Darke County Media Staff Writer Linda Moody at email@example.com or 937-569-4315, ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.