Butler, Lowndes seniors vie for DYW

Published 3:05 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

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This Saturday evening at Greenville’s Ritz Theatre, a dozen of the best and brightest young women from two counties that are about to begin their senior year in high school will vie for the title of Distinguished Young Woman.

Mary Catherine Hollingshead and Abigail Lane will be competing for the DYW medallion for Lowndes County, while Abbie Salter, Grayson Edwards, Hannah Jayroe, Tianna Whittle, Riley Campbell, Kimball Nall, Keandra Owens, Madison Edwards, Kelsey Woodard and Kami Shufford are all hopefuls for the title of Butler County DYW for 2019. The winners from the two counties will go on to vie for additional scholarship money and the title of Alabama’s Distinguished Young Woman in early 2019.

“We started combining the Distinguished Young Women Program for Butler and Lowndes a few years ago, and it’s really worked out well,” Starla Jones, chair of the Butler County DYW, said.  “It allows all the girls from both counties to experience being on stage and truly enjoy the full DYW experience together.”

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Preparing for DYW is no easy task. Each participant will be evaluated in five categories, including interview, scholastics, fitness, self-expression and talent, with the final three categories all taking place on stage.

Since last Friday, the 12 girls have been rehearsing opening dance, self-expression and fitness routines, fine-tuning talent presentations and preparing for individual interviews they will hold with the panel of evaluators Saturday afternoon. Each participant has also written an essay, the subject of which is “being your best self,” and each girl’s high school academic records and college entrance test scores have been evaluated, with half their score determined before they set foot on the Ritz stage Saturday night.

Distinguished Young Women, formerly known as America’s Junior Miss, truly looks for the well-rounded rising high school senior girl, according Jones.

“It is a demanding program, and much is expected of these young women, but they also gain so much from being part of it outside of the scholarship monies they can earn along the way,” she said.

The 2018 representatives from their counties, Sara Carlton (Lowndes) and Hannah Schofield (Butler) agree.

“DYW is such an awesome experience on the county level, and then to get to represent Butler County at state was amazing,” Schofield said. “I made so many wonderful new friends.”

Carlton, who is the third member of her immediate family – after her mom and older sister – to hold the title of Lowndes County DYW, said being a part of DYW met all her expectations from talking with her family members and then some.

“I have earned valuable scholarship monies, gotten to perform before a huge crowd at state and made friendships that will last a lifetime,” Carlton said. “It truly is a wonderful program.”

The 2019 Butler and Lowndes Distinguished Young Women Program is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Ritz. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children and programs will also be available for purchase at the door.