Brownstown student named Distinguished Young Woman


On Saturday evening, nine contestants competed in the 24th annual Distinguished Young Woman contest at Brownstown Central High School.

And though most viewed the contest as a great experience, at the end of the night, Brownstown Central High School senior Shauna Drake walked away with the title and a scholarship worth $2,100.

“I was a bit shocked, astonished but mostly grateful,” Drake said. “I thought the entire contest was a wonderful experience.”

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Drake said she’s never been involved in anything like the Distinguished Young Woman contest, but over the course of the week leading up to the event, she learned a lot and made new friends in the process.

So did Kiley Stidham, also a senior at Brownstown Central High School, who came in first runner-up.

“My favorite part of the entire event was getting to know all the other contestants,” Stidham said.

Stidham received a $1,300 scholarship, while the Warren Silver Spirit Award went to Brownstown senior Brooklyn Snodgrass.

Other contestants were Brownstown seniors Alex Caffee, Claire Poulton and Katie Rohlfing; Seymour High School senior Mackenzi Delph and Trinity Lutheran High School seniors Maddie Bell and Lauren Fleetwood.

The young women were 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).

The first-place contestant in each category received a $300 scholarship, $100 more than last year.

In addition to the first-place scholarship, Drake also won the talent and self-expression portions of the competition.

Two of the three categories were judged before Saturday’s event.

The interview and scholastics judging took place earlier that day, with judges talking with each candidate and reviewing their school transcripts.

For the physical fitness category, the girls were taught an exercise routine set to music, similiar to a dance routine, and performed it for the judges.

Talent was an opportunity for candidates to show off a skill or talent they have for the judges to review. Self expression was the last category. Contestants had to answer the question, “When does a person become an adult?”

“We see the girls grow so much through this competition,” said Jamie Temple, one of the two organizers of the event.

“It makes them more confident and introduces them to more friends,” added Barb Leffler, the other organizer.

After winning Saturday’s local competition, Drake will now move on to the state level.

Jackson County has a long and invested history with the Distinguished Young Woman competition since the program began 23 years ago. At that time, it was called Junior Miss.

The list of winners includes Katie Stam Irk, formerly of Seymour, who went on to be runner-up in the state contest and Miss America in 2009 and Deven Wayman Shirley, formerly of Medora, who won the state’s Junior Miss competition. Last year’s Jackson County winner was Maggie Rohlfing of Brownstown.

Leffler says they hope to make the program bigger next year.

“Next year is the 25th year for the event, and we’re going to try to have a much larger event in every way,” she said.

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2019 Jackson County Distinguished Young Woman

Winner: Shauna Drake of Brownstown Central High School

First runner-up: Kiley Stidham of Brownstown Central High School

Warren Silver Spirit Award: Brooklyn Snodgrass of Brownstown Central High School


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