• 30°

Miller wins DYW competition

Hannah Miller poses with her proud aunt, Michelle Myrick (left) and her mom, Nicki McFerrin (right) after being named the 2016 Butler County Distinguished Young Woman Saturday night at the Ritz Theatre. (Advocate Staff/Angie Long)

Hannah Miller poses with her proud aunt, Michelle Myrick (left) and her mom, Nicki McFerrin (right) after being named the 2016 Butler County Distinguished Young Woman Saturday night at the Ritz Theatre. (Advocate Staff/Angie Long)

Only one thing could have made Hannah Miller’s Saturday night more perfect: sharing it with her best friend.

And it all unfolded on Greenville’s Ritz Theater stage.

Miller, awarded a medallion as the 2016 Distinguished Young Woman of Butler County, was doubly excited because fellow Fort Dale Academy student Mary Clare Carlton had only moments earlier been selected as the DYW for neighboring Lowndes County.

Miller and Carlton shared a slightly teary hug before Butler County’s newest DYW received her medallion.

“Those two are such good friends,” said Nicki McFerrin, Miller’s mother. “They are really looking forward to sharing a week together during the state program.”

This year marked the first time Lowndes and Butler Counties held a joint DYW program, with three participants vying for the Lowndes title and another 14 in pursuit of Butler County’s medallion.

In addition to winning the county title, Miller also took home two category awards, talent and interview. A seasoned vocalist who has performed extensively with the Southside Baptist Youth Band and the Ritz Players, Miller sang a soulful rendition of the Jackson Five’s 1970s ballad “I’ll Be There.”

She was awarded a $1,750 cash scholarship and a $500 stipend for state finals expenses, along with $600 in scholarship monies for the two category wins.

Miller, a long-time student at Sonya’s Dance and Fitness, also serves as one of the studio’s apprentices/teachers. She is active in several student organizations and plays on the FDA volleyball team.

Future plans include attending the University of Alabama in Birmingham and pursuing a medical degree in dermatology.

Other winners included Greenville High School seniors Angelanette Brown and Sellers Swann, who tied for the “Be Your Best Self” Essay Award win, with each receiving a $150 cash tuition scholarship; Kendall Burt of McKenzie School, recipient of the Fitness Award and a $125 scholarship; Emiley Wells of Fort Dale Academy, winner of a $300 scholarship and the Self-Expression Award; McKenzie School’s Mary Glenn Fuller, chosen by her fellow DYW participants as winner of the Spirit Award and a $150 scholarship; and Fort Dale Academy’s Kendall Hays, Scholastic Achievement Award winner and recipient of a $300 cash scholarship.

Swann was selected as first runner-up, earning her a $1,250 cash tuition scholarship. She gave a memorable, torch-like vocal performance of the classic Newley-Bricusse tune, “Feeling Good.” She plans to attend Auburn University and pursue a medical degree in dermatology.

Second runner-up Danielle Tyus, a senior at Georgiana School, received a $750 cash tuition scholarship. Danielle performed a witty monologue entitled “90 Seconds of Want,” showcasing her comedic timing and proficiency at accents. Danielle wants to attend either Troy University or the University of Alabama in Birmingham and become a nurse anesthetist.

A new addition to the Butler County DYW scholarship program is the Proud Papas Scholarship Fund. Created and supported by the fathers of former DYW representatives of Butler County, $200 cash tuition scholarships were awarded Saturday night to four participants: Chey-Anne Kilpatrick, Paige Odom, Samantha Scott and Swann.

Cailyn Thompson, outgoing DYW for Butler County and former DYW participant Madison Castleberry shared their vocal talents, as did Greenville native (and 1993 Junior Miss/DYW) Lindsey Kennedy Benedict, who performed selections from her latest CD, “Jazz is Heaven.” She also gave Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon an impromptu lesson in ballroom dancing on the Ritz stage.

The young High Heels Boot Camp veterans and the DYW Little Sisters showed off their own smooth dance moves during the entertainment section of the program.

Jennifer Horton, Crime Stoppers reporter and Sunday news anchor for WSFA-TV, served as the emcee for the evening.