The phrase "I Am Enough" rang out in the Grove Middle School Auditorium on Valentine's Day, as students followed Miss Oklahoma's lead.

It was a message Miss Oklahoma 2016 Sarah Klein wanted the students to remember, not only on a day filled with love and friendship, but throughout their middle school and high school careers.

She also spoke about perseverance, self respect and self reliance, as she recounted her path to the Miss America pageant - which included more than five years of being in the top 10 at Miss Oklahoma, before winning the crown.

Klein told the students how she set a goal and worked harder, even when the distractions became great, to win the crown and represent her state on the national stage.

"There are a lot of distractions and we compare ourselves to a lot of filtered versions of other people's lives," Klein said, of viewing the world through social media. "Each of you have a special gift and unique talents to bring to the world. You need to be the best version of yourself."

Klein told the students she almost gave up on her dreams after finishing as first runner-up in her fifth year of competing at Miss Oklahoma pageant.

"I told myself I was done," Klein said. "I moved to California, cut my hair off. 

"But then people in my life encouraged me, and kept telling me 'don't give up.'"

Klein said she eventually returned to the state to compete for one last chance at the title. She decided to focus her energies on thinking about what she gained along the journey - scholarships, friendships and more.

"I persevered. I learned there is a reason for every step taken," Klein said. "I became Miss Oklahoma, but I couldn't have done it without perseverance."

Klein told the students to surround themselves with people who will have a positive impact on their lives, and who will help them succeed.

"Don't invite people to your garden who trample your flowers," Klein said. "Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future.

"Find your support system and never give up."

Klein reminded the students the words they speak over each other have power - and that words can destroy someone's life.

"You can never take your words back," Klein said. "Once they are out there, they are out."

As a teacher by training, Klein reminded students that their education is important because it helps them "become the best version" of themselves. 

She also challenged them to think about service and to find ways to make a difference in the lives of others. 

Since being crowned Miss Oklahoma, Klein has talked with more than 40,000 students. She believes bringing a positive message to students is one of her most important roles. 

"I would have loved to have heard [a message of perseverance] as a student," Klein said, "and see someone who was living out that message."

Klein said she reiterates the same message to the young women competing to wear the Miss Oklahoma crown. 

"I tell them to stay in their lane, and to focus on themselves," Klein said. "They need to be content and confident in who they are, and be real. If you can't be real for the judges, you can't be real as Miss Oklahoma."