8 seniors vying for title of Distinguished Young Woman

There will be one big difference with this year’s Distinguished Young Women of Jackson County contest: A much smaller audience.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, each of the contestants can only have two people at the event.

One thing hasn’t changed: The high school senior girls will be competing for the chance to win scholarship money.

This year’s contestants are Abby Stuckwisch, Rehgen Stuckwisch, Karcyn Trueblood and Allison Wynn, all of Brownstown Central High School, and Kim Clemente, Ellie Cornn, Montana Crossman and Celeste Huddleston, all of Seymour High School.

The competition starts at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Brownstown Central High School auditorium.

“Our plan is to try and stream it live. I’m still working on the logistics of that,” said Jamie Temple, who organizes the contest with Barb Leffler.

That either will be streamed on the Distinguished Young Women of Jackson County Indiana Facebook page or on YouTube Live. A link will be posted on the Facebook page.

Considering schools were out of session from mid-March to May, which is when the program has callouts for contestants, Temple and Leffler were happy to wind up with eight participants.

“I didn’t go to the schools at all because of COVID,” Leffler said. “The school counselors emailed all of the girls (at the county schools), and then they got in contact with me. I’ve been text messaging them.”

The eight girls will be evaluated by a panel of judges in the following categories: Scholastics (25%), interview (25%), talent (20%), fitness (15%) and self-expression (15%).

While scholarship money can be earned by winning one of the categories, only one will take home the largest prize and overall title.

During practices this week, the contestants learned a group fitness routine, which also includes time for each of the girls to come forward and display their skills.

The contestants 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.

Temple said they have a great group of girls.

“They really like each other, and they’ve been quick to pick up stuff. It’s going quick,” she said.

Donations from businesses, organizations, industries and individuals are still being accepted so more scholarship money can be presented to the winners. Checks may be mailed to DYW, P.O. Box 2, Seymour, IN 47274.

Temple said they are very appreciative of the businesses that have been able to help out already.

“We know everyone, businesses especially, was affected big time, so it was kind of hard for us to ask some of them because we knew there’s not a whole lot maybe to help out with, so we’ve been very grateful for those that can help us out this year,” she said.

The winner of the county contest will advance to the state competition in February in Kokomo, where she will vie for the opportunity to represent the state as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2021.

That winner will move on to the 64th 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.

The reigning Distinguished Young Woman of Jackson County is 2020 Brownstown Central graduate Zoe Fountain.

The program is in its 26th year in the county, starting as the Jackson County Junior Miss scholarship program.