Many happy returns: Five Zionsville Community High School graduates compete for Miss Indiana, Teen title


Sam Robbins has several reasons for annually returning to the Miss Indiana competition.

“My growth is a huge part of this,” Robbins said. “I keep coming back because I love this and it’s so much fun, but also pushing myself is a huge part of it. So, getting that accomplishment of being in the top five just showed to me how far I’ve come in my personal growth and communication and performance skills, so that was a really huge, awesome moment for me.”

In her seventh Miss Indiana’s competition, Robbins, a 2016 Zionsville Community High School graduate, made the top five for the first time, finishing fourth runner-up.

She will compete in the Miss Indiana for the eighth time June 26-29 at the STAR Bank Performing Arts Center in Zionsville. The winners advance to the Miss America competition.

Robbins had competed in Miss Indiana’s Teen contest three times.

Zionsville princesses Barnes photo

The Miss Indiana competition features two other ZCHS graduates — Shaylee Barnes and Kate Dimmett – who are making return appearances. Dimmett’s sister, Meg Dimmett, is competing for Miss Indiana’s Teen for the second consecutive year,

Robbins’ talent is tap dancing, and her community service initiative is Party Smarty: Breaking the Substance Abuse Cycle. Robbins started by creating a group for parties without alcohol while attending Ball State University. She also helped start it at other college campuses.

Robbins, a 26-year-old graphic designer, helped organize a music festival called Soberlicious at Lions Park in Zionsville last year.

Kate Dimmett, a 2021 ZCHS graduate, is competing for the second time in Miss Indiana. She won the Miss Indiana’s Teen title in 2021. Kate and Meg, a 2024 ZCHS graduate, share the same community service initiative called Notable Measures. It’s a nonprofit they created to aid music programs when they were in middle school.

“We’ve been able to give 100 grants to music programs all over the state,” Kate said. “It’s been cool to see how it’s grown. We’ve raised nearly $70,000.”

Kate and Meg play the violin for the talent portion.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone,” said Kate, who will be an Indiana University senior this fall. “There’s no other time when the titleholders get together for a week. It is also special that Meg and I get to experience the week together. We’re not competing against each other, which is great. I get to cheer her on, and she gets to cheer me on. I think what is special about the organization is that you grow so much through it.”

Meg plans to major in business at IU but take biology classes and go to optometry school. Meg said she expects to be calmer while competing for the second time.

“I’ve done it once, so I’ll be a little more relaxed,” Meg said. “Last year, I was pretty stressed. This year, I’ll know exactly what the whole week entails, so I won’t be so stressed and just have a good time with the girls.”

Barnes is set for her third Miss Indiana competition. She also competed three times in the Miss Indiana’s Teen contest.

“This year, I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the girls again,” Barnes said. “Since I won so early in the season, I feel like I haven’t seen everybody all together in a long time. Most of the girls really have become like a second family to me, and those that I haven’t had the chance to fully connect with yet I am really excited to.”

Barnes is heading into her senior year at Indiana University in the fall. majoring in neuroscience and minoring in contemporary dance. She plans to attend medical school to pursue a career in either neurosurgery or neurology.

Barnes is doing a vocal performance of “Summertime,” the same song she did last year. She said she usually does a new song.

“But I just fell in love with this song, and I cannot wait to sing it again,” Barnes said. “My platform is The MEDLIFE Movement, providing medicine, education and development for low-income families everywhere. I actually just got back from Lima, Peru, where I was volunteering at mobile health clinics, and we built a park for our development project.”

CIZ princesses pic 6
From left, Sam Robbins, Grace Bannes, Meg Dimmett and Kate Dimmett walk down Main Street in Zionsville. (Photo by Mark Ambrogi)

Competition newcomer

Grace Branam, a 2024 Zionsville Community High School graduate, won the second competition she ever entered. She advanced by winning the Miss Hoosier Valley’s Teen in November 2023.

“I originally watched a pageant and I loved how empowered, well-spoken and intelligent the women were,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room with such intelligent and amazing women.”

Branam said she enjoyed discovering everyone’s passion. Her service initiative is “an algorithm that I’ve coded that connects sexual assault victims to resources in just five clicks,” she said.

Branam will attend the University of Cincinnati, where she plans to pursue a degree in accelerated nursing.

Her talent is spoken-word monologue, and she plans to read a poem by Amanda Gorman, who was the presidential inaugural poet at the 2021 presidential inauguration.