“Speechless” is how Jenkins High School Junior Naomi Miller described her thoughts following an evening of “Magic Moments” when she was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Chewelah on March 23.
“It’s so surreal,” Miller said.
She never anticipated receiving four of six individual awards making her the title winner over 10 other competitors. Miller received the judge’s awards for top scholastic, interview, and fitness along with the Karlynn McCanna Spirit Award voted by her fellow contestants.
“You never want to go into it expecting so much because the disappointment is that much greater,” she said.
Miller is the daughter of Edwin and Patricia Miller, and sister to David Miller. She plans to attend Western Washington University after graduation.
JHS junior Josie Mott won the talent and self-expression categories to become first alternate.
“I feel fulfilled,” Mott said. “I have been wanting this since I was 6 years old. My dreams have come true.”
She is the daughter of Kevin and Jennifer Mott and plans to attend the Gene Juarez Academy for cosmetology.
The second alternate is JHS junior Patti Hernandez who just simply said that she was “really happy” about the results, although very nervous throughout the evening.
Hernandez is the daughter of Stacy and Barbara Murray and sister to Eleisha Peterson, Tim and Tyler Murray and Elena Hernandez. She plans to attend Eastern Washington University to become a Special Education Teacher and was just elected JHS ASB president for 2013-2014.
Parents in the audience were just as anxious for their children.
“I can finally breathe,” said Jennifer Mott when the program was finished. She felt like she was holding her breath the entire night.
Miller said she “can’t wait” for summer when all three young women will be representing the community at parades throughout the region on the Chewelah float, which is set to have a pirate theme designed by Patsy Cotter. It will feature a big shipwreck and reuse two of the giant fish sculptures from the 2012 award-winning float.
The DYW representatives and their families, along with many volunteers, will be helping put the new float together in time for their first parade at the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee on May 4.
Miller said although she looks forward to strengthening her relationships with Josie and Patty in the next year, she was glad to get to know each of her fellow contestants over the last six weeks of practices.
“I wish I could ride the float with all of them,” she said.
The other participants were juniors Jazmyn Elliott, Kayleigh Hansen, Zoe Moritz, Rebecca Traaen, Hannah Johnson, Kristi McCart, Alexis Moritz and Jeannie Corbett.
The Program Event
The eleven contestants were evaluated in five categories to determine the top three overall winners. Interview and talent are worth 25 percent each, scholastic is worth 20 percent, and self-expression and fitness are each worth 15 percent of the total score. Since the audience only witnesses the on-stage portion, 45 percent of the contestants’ score is already decided prior to the program.
A 10-minute interview took place earlier in the day when the five judges, who had no previous relationship with the contestants, evaluated participants’ personality, her ability to relate to others, her maturity, and ability to express herself. The scholastic score is tabulated separately to score a participant’s high school academic record and test scores.
The evening program, hosted by mistresses of ceremonies Alicia Lasko and Becky Gregerson, started with a fitness routine that Tammy Youngblood choreographed for the first time. The young women performed in two groups and each contestant managed to keep a smile on her face throughout the entire aerobics workout where the contestants are evaluated on physical stamina, coordination, agility, and flexibility.
Then each young woman took the stage on her own for a 90-second individual talent performance that showcased a variety of personalities through monologues and musical acts, finishing with Jeannie Corbett’s hula-hoop routine. During this part of the program, judges look for technical ability, appropriateness of selection, stage presence, and execution.
To win the top talent award, Mott performed a song in Spanish while playing guitar. She has been singing and playing guitar for 11 years and started learning Spanish with lessons from a foreign exchange student three years ago.
Miller presented a comedic musical theatre performance titled “I’m the Greatest Star” from Funny Girl. She has been involved in theatre for seven years and has a particular love for musical comedies.
Hernandez, who has been in theatre for six years, performed a monologue entitled “Ditz” which captures how outgoing she is and that “she loves to talk,” according to her introduction during the program.
Following talent, all 11 girls took the stage at once for the self-expression routine choreographed by Brenda Gregerson that concludes with an on-stage impromptu question. In this portion, they are judged on grace, poise, demeanor, carriage and posture, and speaking ability.
When asked if she would rather be rich or famous, Mott, who also received the award for self-expression, said, “Famous so I could influence others to do the right thing.” When asked what one material possession she would bring a desert island, Miller replied, “A photo album because no matter how long I was there I could never forget anyone.” When asked what is important about a good friend, Hernandez said, “Everyone needs something they can lean on through the troubles they go through.”
The outgoing DYW 2012 representatives Mallorie Powell, Atasha Edwards, and Daniele Bradley also performed during the program in an introduction skit along with individual and group talent routines. Then they thanked those people who helped them throughout this last year during farewell speeches given prior to presenting the 2013 awards.
In addition, Chewelah’s 1999 Junior Miss Leslie Masuda revived her talent performance that received the state level scholarship award that year by singing “Crazy” by Patsy Cline.
The Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program, formally known as Junior Miss, awards scholarships across the nation in local, state and national programs. Miller will compete at the Washington State program in August in Pullman for a chance to go to the national competition in Mobile, Alabama. They encourage young women to “be your best self” and that is the message echoed locally as well.
During the program, MC Becky Gregerson said, “The magic moment Josie will take away from DYW was when she asked if she had to change her hair color and Brenda (Gregerson)’s answer was “not if purple is who you are, be who you are, be your best self.”
For more information on Distinguished Young Women, go to www.distinguishedyw.org.
By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: Distinguished Young Woman 2013 Naomi Miller (center), with her first alternate Josie Mott (left)) and second alternate Patti Hernandez (right). Jared Arnold photo