(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
NIGHT TO REMEMBER: Chewelah’s three give a distinguished performance…
Saturday night’s Distinguished Young Woman of Chewelah scholarship program began with each contestant giving a “salute” to one aspect of their community they believe is important. Lillian Kirry saluted the Chewelah School District, Avery Arnold saluted the Chamber of Commerce, and Mackenzie Acord saluted the Chewelah City Council.
But each of these young women deserves their own salute as well. They have shown that they will all be great representatives for our community this year.
The stage show was the finale to two months of practice, hard work and personal growth for these participants, who are already very busy students at Jenkins High School. All three young women are juniors at JHS, members of the National Honor Society, recipients of the Mayor’s Youth Award and are leaders in different ways within their school and community including theatre, academics, athletics, music and ASB.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s program, Lillian Kirry was named the Distinguished Young Woman for the Class of 2020. She will represent Chewelah at the Washington State DYW program in Pullman in August. As alternates, Mackenzie Acord and Avery Arnold will be by her side this summer as they travel across the state representing Chewelah on the community float.
Lily is the daughter of Melissa and Clint Kirry, Avery is the daughter of Jared and Andrea Arnold and Mackenzie is the daughter of Leah and Rich Oman, Jim and Robin Acord.
To determine the titleholder, five judges score each participant individually in five different categories, which are weighted according to their importance. The National DYW committee sets the scoring guidelines. Half the scores are already tabulated before the participants even step on stage: Scholastics and Interview. These categories are each worth 25 percent of the total score.
Scholastics is based on grades and other academic merits, and Interview is based on a 10-minute judges’ interview that takes place during the afternoon. On stage, the participants are judged during a group fitness routine (15 percent), a 90-second individual talent performance (20 percent) and their poise while answering an impromptu question (15 percent).
The top scorer in each individual category received a scholarship award. Lily took home scholarships for Scholastics, Interview, Fitness and Poise. Avery was awarded the scholarship for Talent.
However, as a current member of the Distinguished Young Women of Chewelah committee, I’ve learned that this program does much more for the participants than the audience gets to see on stage during program night, more than the stage performance or the top scores can reveal. Mackenzie, Lily and Avery should all be proud of their performances and all have mentioned how much they appreciated the experience they gained from being a part of this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
“What I gained most from the program is learning that whether you think you will be good at something or not, to always try it anyway,” Avery said. “I improved on myself by learning interview skills and how to walk in heels which one day could be the difference between getting something or not.”
The biggest thing that Mackenzie said she took away from the experience was, “My confidence grew immensely over the last two months.”
Arnold was chosen by her fellow contestants to receive the Karlynn McCanna Spirit Award. The Spirit Award recognizes the person who the participants believe best encompasses the spirit of the Distinguished Young Women program, which promotes a “Be Your Best Self” message.
Lily said, “This program really made me be reflective on the type of person I am and how to truly be myself. It made me improve my knowledge of current events and my local history.”
The outgoing representatives, Ursula Bakken, Jaydin Ludeman and Emma Larsen reiterated that “Be Your Best Self” message during their farewell speeches at this year’s program. Ludeman said she hopes to become a positive role model for others, and Bakken said she wants everyone to remember that they should always be proud to show who they are.
The individual talent performance is one way for the participants to showcase themselves and their personalities to the audience. Avery performed a self-written comedic science monologue while demonstrating an exothermic reaction using hydrogen peroxide. She hopes to become a pharmacist working in a lab one day.
Lily sang a sweet song called “Hang on Little Tomato” by the Pink Martinis while playing the ukulele, an instrument she first learned in Hawaii at 11 years of age.
Mackenzie entertained the audience with a tenor saxophone performance of “No Money” by Galantis. She is a member of the high school jazz and concert bands and has been playing saxophone for three years.
“I could not believe how fun (being a part of this program) was,” Lily said. “I was expecting the experience to be all serious and ‘all business’ but I had so much fun hanging out with Avery and Mackenzie and the DYW committee. This community we are in is so supportive and I am so honored to represent the town as the Distinguished Young Woman.”
Editor’s note: Kellie Trudeau choreographs the fitness routine for Chewelah’s DYW scholarship program, adapting it from state and national routines. Brenda Gregerson and Sara Cochran are committee co-chairs; Keith Cochran is the judges’ chair, and Janet McLaughlin helps in developing the individual talent performances. Becky Gregerson was Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening event, which took place at the Chewelah Center for the Arts for the first time on Saturday, March 23, 2019.