Distinguished Young Women of Chilton County is prepping for their program July 15

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, July 13, 2017


Staff Writer


Distinguished Young Women of Chilton County is at it again with highly qualified rising seniors of the county preparing to take the stage July 15 at Chilton County High School for what many consider to be a program of a lifetime.

“As a parent,” DYW Chilton County co-chairperson Kay Clark said, “my daughter was a Distinguished Young Woman, and I know how it’s helped her in colleges and interviews, job positions and that sort of thing.”

This year’s DYW Chilton County scholarship program has six participants: Alferria Agee, Hannah Northcutt, Emily Parrish, Brianna Price, Catherine Staffney and Anna Smith.

“We have one from Verbena High School, we have one from Jemison, and the other four are from Chilton County High,” DYW chairperson Leslee Deavers said.

For the girls, it’s been a week of rehearsing and meeting fellow participants. For the DYW Chilton County individuals who run the program, it’s been a week of busy, hands-on organizing by directing choreography, creating and assembling props and decorations, instructing participants, orchestrating audio and lighting and providing food for the practicing participants.

Deavers said most of these helpers, whom she describes as “family”, are affiliated with the Distinguished Young Women organization through past involvement. Some, like Clark, have daughters who participated, others have participated themselves, and still others are past Distinguished Young Women. They are honored in the program and will be recognized during the event as “has-beens”.

Ada Ruth Huntley, last year’s Distinguished Young Woman of Chilton County, will also participate in the program, but will not be competing. This week, she is practicing her parts and helping to guide this year’s participants as they rehearse.

According to Clark, the DYW program has existed in Chilton County since 1965 when Mary Clyde Huff became its first winner.

Deavers said the program was called Junior Miss at the time, not becoming Distinguished Young Women until 2010 when the organization sought to better “distinguish” the program from beauty pageantry it had been associated with.

“We’re very much not a pageant,” Deavers said. “Fifty percent of the girls’ scores comes from their scholastic and their interview.”

According to Clark and Deavers, participating in the DYW program requires a wide range of impressive qualities and skills. But no entry fee is required.

Deavers said judges look for the “well-rounded young lady who’s very involved.”

DYW promotes the Be Your Best Self program, which typifies “every bit what a Distinguished Young Woman should be,” Deavers said. “So they’re involved, they’re studious, they’re ambitious, they’re healthy and responsible.”

Deavers said recruiters, such as Deavers and Clark, visit county schools in the spring to promote the scholarship program, which is available to any rising senior in the county, regardless of school affiliation. Once selected, participants meet each other and rehearse for the program a week prior to its commencement.

“I wish a thousand times I had been able to do it,” Deavers said of the DYW scholarship program. Growing up, she had never heard of DYW. “I don’t want anybody in this county to be able to say that ever again. It’s too good of a program.”