The time has come for local incoming senior girls to compete for the chance to win scholarship money.
During the Distinguished Young Women of Jackson County program Saturday in the Brownstown Central High School auditorium, nine contestants will be evaluated by a panel of five judges in the following categories — scholastics (25 percent), interview (25 percent), talent (20 percent), fitness (15 percent) and self-expression (15 percent).
While scholarship money can be earned by winning one of the categories, only one will take home the largest prize and overall title.
The contestants are Brownstown Central High School seniors Alex Caffee, Shauna Drake, Claire Poulton, Katie Rohlfing, Brooklyn Snodgrass and Kiley Stidham, Seymour High School senior Mackenzi Delph and Trinity Lutheran High School seniors Maddie Bell and Lauren Fleetwood.
Jamie Temple, who organizes the contest with Barb Leffler, said there initially were a few more contestants. The final number, however, is nearly double from last year.
“Once time got closer, some conflicts came up, but we’re OK with nine,” Temple said, noting as many as 22 girls competed one year in the past. “It’s hard because it’s all week, so we run into a lot of different sports schedules and things.”
During three-hour practices this week, the contestants are learning the group fitness routine, which also includes time for each of the contestants to come forward and display their skills. The routine, which can’t be more than 10 minutes long, is being choreographed by Angela Blann.
The girls also are practicing their individual talents and self-expression. The latter involves answering a question on the spot.
With scholastics, the judges will be given access to the contestants’ school transcripts to determine their overall scholastic ability. Then the interviews will be done Saturday afternoon.
Also, a people’s choice award will be presented. That honor, introduced last year, gives attendees a chance to vote for their favorite contestant and donate money to the program.
The competition will start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8 and may be purchased in advance from any of the contestants, Temple or Leffler or that night at the door.
Temple said businesses, organizations, industries and individuals interested in donating money may still do so this week so more can be presented to the winners.
“We always are looking for more,” she said.
Leffler said checks may be mailed to DYW, P.O. Box 2, Seymour, IN 47274.
The winner will advance to the state competition in February in Kokomo, where they will vie for the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2019.
That winner will move on to the 62nd Distinguished Young Women National Finals in June in Mobile, Alabama. There, she will join 50 other representatives from across the country in competing for cash scholarships and the opportunity to represent the program as the Distinguished Young Woman of America.
Aaryan Morrison of Kokomo earned that title for 2018.
The reigning Distinguished Young Woman of Jackson County is 2018 Brownstown Central graduate Maggie Rohlfing.
The program is in its 24th year in Jackson County, starting as the Jackson County Junior Miss scholarship program.
Both of the organizers said they hope to keep growing the program in the county.
“It’s girls from the county. This is a county program that we put on,” Temple said. “By the end of the week, they’ll be able to tell you how much fun it is and how much they liked it.”
Leffler said the contest helps girls build friendships and confidence.
“It’s just nice to see all of the girls from the different schools get to know each other and branch out a little bit,” she said.
An incoming junior, known as a “Little Sis,” is paired with each contestant so they can see how the program works.
“I’m hoping a Little Sis, they are doing it this year and will do it with us next year,” Leffler said.
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What: Distinguished Young Women of Jackson County scholarship program
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Brownstown Central High School auditorium, 500 N. Elm St., Brownstown
Who: Contestants are Brownstown Central High School seniors Alex Caffee, Shauna Drake, Claire Poulton, Katie Rohlfing, Brooklyn Snodgrass and Kiley Stidham, Seymour High School senior Mackenzi Delph and Trinity Lutheran High School seniors Maddie Bell and Lauren Fleetwood
Tickets: $8 (available in advance from any contestant or organizers Jamie Temple and Barb Leffler or at the door that night)
Donations: Businesses, organizations, industries and individuals interested in donating money may still do so this week so more can be presented to the winners. Checks may be mailed to DYW, P.O. Box 2, Seymour, IN 47274. Also, in the lobby the night of the program, attendees may vote for their favorite contestant to win the people’s choice award and make a donation to the program.
Information: Call 812-525-2176 or search for Distinguished Young Women of Jackson County Indiana on Facebook