Fourteen Clark County young women proved themselves to be distinguished Friday night.
The contestants in the second Distinguished Young Women program, formerly known as Junior Miss, showcased their scholastic abilities, physical fitness and poise as part of one of the country’s oldest scholarship programs for high school girls.
For Clark County’s 2013 Distinguished Young Woman, the win was a culmination of lifetime spent around the program. Haley’s mother, Terri Tye, is a former Junior Miss/Distinguished Young Women committee member in Clark County, and the 1984 Clark County runner-up.
“I have to tell her she outdid me,” Terri Tye said. “I was only first runner-up my year.”
Program coordinator Donna Fuller said she recalls Haley Tye coming to practices when she was only five years old, and how excited she was to play the part of Junior Miss in a dress rehearsal.
“She went home and told her daddy she won money for college,” Fuller said.
Twelve years later, Haley Tye has added $1,925 to her college fund, winning the $1,200 scholarship awarded to the overall winner, a $75 scholarship for talent, a $75 scholarship for individual interview and a $75 scholarship for self-expression, as well as the $500 Donna Fuller Passion Award.
“It’s the best feeling ever. I can’t describe it. I’ve been around it with my mom for so long,” Haley Tye said. “It’s a great way to start my senior year.”
Fuller said she was proud of the way girls performed, and is always impressed at the way they step up to the challenge.
“These girls have worked extremely hard for a short period of time,” Fuller said. “They just want people to realize it’s more than a pageant. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone.”
In what Fuller described as a “very diverse group,”¿talents ranged from a dance routine with Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf to an original song performed on the piano. Haley Tye performed “Whitewater Chopsticks” on the piano.
Other winners included third runner-up Peri Drury, second runner-up Eden Bennett and first runner-up Joanna Guerrant.
Talent winners were Emily Jackson, Tye and Peri Drury; self-expression winners were Allison Ratliff, Tye and Joanna Guerrant; and interview winners were Tye, Drury and Eden Bennett.
Distinguished Young Women are judged in five categories — interview, talent, scholastics, fitness and self-expression. The scholastic winners are determined by a panel of educators who review each contestant’s transcripts and college entrance exams.
“(Distinguished Young Women) is about being your best in all those five elements you score in,” Fuller said.
The Winchester Rotary Club donated a $500 cash scholarship to the Be Your Best Self Award winner. To qualify, contestants had to write a 300 word essay on the five elements of Distinguished Young Women.
Self-expression winners were chosen based on their answers to the on-stage question, “What does it mean to be a hero?”
Tye will represent Clark County at the state program in Lexington in January.
Past Clark County winners have performed well at the state level, often placing in the top five, including 2010 national winner Michelle Rodgers.
For 2012 winner Ragan Clark, Distinguished Young Women has helped her realize the importance of reaching her full potential. Clark spoke to the audience about her time as a Distinguished Young Woman and the impact the program has made on her life.
“You kind of realize you don’t have to be perfect in every area, as long as you do the best you can,” Clark said.
For more information on the DIstinguished Young Women program, visit www.ajm.org.
Contact Rachel Parsons Gilliam at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter, @ParsonsRachel.