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DYW brings out best in contestants

On Saturday night, some of Butler County’s best and brightest will take the stage of the historic Ritz Theatre as part of the annual Distinguished Young Women competition.

The competition offers young ladies in our community a chance to shine.

While there are numerous beauty pageants that take place at the Ritz Theatre each year, the DYW competition is something completely unique. In fact, it’s not a beauty pageant at all.

There are no crowns.

The contestants aren’t judged on appearance at all.

Instead, the winners receive a medallion and scholarship money — a lot of it.

That’s because DYW is a scholarship program and not a beauty pageant.

Founded in 1958 in Mobile, DYW is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. Since its creation, DYW has awarded more than $100 million in cash scholarships at the local, state and national levels.

More than $365 million in college scholarship opportunities were provided last year, according to the DYW website.

At Saturday’s competition, contestants will compete in five categories: scholastics, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression. The interview and talent portions of the competition will count for 25 percent of the contestant’s score, while the scholastics portion will count for 20 percent and fitness and self-expression will each count for 15 percent of the overall score.

But more than medallions and scholarship dollars, the program is about teaching young women to be their very best through its Be Your Best Self program.

DYW participants are encouraged to be their best selves in areas such as academics, physical fitness, morality, character and social and civic participation. The participants are encouraged to stay fit and drug free, serve in their community, stay in school, set and achieve goals and live by moral and ethical principles.

And that’s exactly why as a community we should support these young women and this program. By being their very best selves, they will make our community better.

We’d like to be among the first to applaud this year’s contestants for the hard work they’ve already put in to prepare for Saturday. We’d also like to wish them all good luck.

We hope to see all of you at the Ritz Theatre Saturday at 7 p.m. to cheer these young women on.