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Locals winners at state contest

Fort Dale Academy seniors Mary Hannah Miller (left) and Mary Claire Carlton (right) won the talent and scholastic portion of the Distinguished Young Women of Alabama state program, respectively. (Courtesy Photo)

Fort Dale Academy seniors Mary Hannah Miller (left) and Mary Claire Carlton (right) won the talent and scholastic portion of the Distinguished Young Women of Alabama state program, respectively. (Courtesy Photo)

Fort Dale Academy seniors Mary Hannah Miller and Mary Claire Carlton shared the stage at a Distinguished Young Women competition for the second time in five months, and like the first time, the friends walked away winners.

Miller, Butler County’s Distinguished Young Woman, and Carlton, Lowndes County’s Distinguished Young Woman, competed this past weekend in the Distinguished Young Women of Alabama state program in Montgomery.

Miller won the program’s talent portion, while Carlton won the scholastic portion of the competition.

“Our girls did a great job and represented our counties well,” said Starla Jones, chairperson for the local DYW program.

Miller and Carlton earned the right to represent their counties by taking top honors in their local competitions in August. It marked the first time Butler and Lowndes 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.

Carlton swept most of the category awards for Lowndes County in the local competition, including Interview, Scholastic Achievement, Talent, Fitness and the “Be Your Best Self Essay” award, earning an additional $500 in scholarship monies.  She performed a piano concerto by Tchaikovsky for her talent.

The state competition was won by Shelby County’s MaryGrace Long.