Distinguished Young Women

On Saturday, May 20th, Franklin held its annual Distinguished Young Women scholarship contest. The night was the culmination of a long process of working, studying and practicing for the six competitors –and representatives–  from FHS’ class of 2018.

These six ladies prepared for over a month to compete for a $1000 scholarship and the opportunity to represent our city at the state competition this summer. The DYW Program was originally titled “Junior Miss”, and Franklin has participated since the 1960s. Each year, all girls from the junior class are eligible to compete. The competitors are judged in five categories by a panel of judges. This year, the judging panel included a past Distinguished Young Woman and other experts in the fields the girls had to compete in.

So, what exactly does the DYW competition look like? Well, 2 of the 5 competitions actually take place before the event. Scholastics consists of an evaluation of the girls’ transcripts. The interview is a one-on-one time with judges, where the girls are asked about their interests, current events and anything else the judges deem fit. The interviews happen the morning of the competition. Participants say this was the most stressful part of the contest. That night, the girls participate in talent, self-expression, and fitness. The talent section can only be 90 sec., but the girls can choose to demonstrate any of their hobbies or skills. This year, Priyanka Iyer performed an Indian classical dance,

The talent section can only be 90 sec., but the girls can choose to demonstrate any of their hobbies or skills. This year, Priyanka Iyer performed an Indian classical dance, Bharathanatyam. CJ Nielson played a piece on the piano from this year’s WSMA contest. Melanie Peck recreated an award-winning self-portrait. Sarah Melcher sang “My Man” from the broadway show Funny Girl.  Maija Sikora played a french horn solo, also from WSMA. And, Val Halbur sang Alanis Morrisette’s “Valerie”. The show also featured talent performances from other local Distinguished Young Women, and a speech from Franklin’s representative of the class of 2017, Alexis Zello.

The self-expression portion consists of the girls answering a question. They are given the question the night before and have to answer it on stage. This year, the question dealt with being change-makers. The girls were asked to explain how they see themselves as influencers of change now and in the future.

The last event that is judged is fitness. This is a more entertaining part of the evening. Each year, a routine combining dance, crunches, push-ups and planks is created for the girls have to memorize and dance live on stage. This year, they performed to “Confident” by Demi Lovato.

At the end of the show, winners are announced for every category. Then, an alternate is named (if the 1st place winner cannot go to the state competition) and the night is ended with the announcement of Franklin’s next Distinguished Young Woman. This year, Sarah Melcher won the talent contest, CJ Nielson raised the most funds and Priyanka Iyer won the scholastic, self-expression and fitness contests. For 2018, Melanie Peck is the alternate and Priyanka Iyer is the Distinguished Young Woman.

Every girl worked extremely hard for the competition and showed the wide array of talent that the women of the class of 2018 have. Congrats to the winners!

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