Ward: DYW leaves girls with positive memories
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG, Banner Staff Writer
Jul 21, 2013 | 1252 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
2014 DYW competition
The 18 Distinguished Young Women are introduced Friday evening on the Dixon Center Stage. Banner photos, DONNA KAYLOR
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Music from various eras filled the air as the 56th annual Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee competition kicked off Friday night at Lee University’s Dixon Center.

It was the first of two evening events for the state-level scholarship competition for girls going in their senior year of high school. Contestants danced to artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra in honor of the year’s theme, “Legends of Music.”

Friday’s preliminary event was designed to allow the contestants to each complete two out of three onstage categories in the competition.

There are five categories total. Talent and interview categories are both worth 25 percent each. Scholastics is 20 percent. The fitness and self-expression categories are worth 15 percent each.

Katie Ward, the 2013 Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee, said all the girls — regardless of whom won — would leave with positive memories from the experience. She said she was able to make friends with other contestants, which topped her list of experiences.

“This program is so much more than about winning the title and money,” Ward said.

The talent, fitness and self-expression portions were performed onstage both Friday and Saturday nights. However, the scholastic portion was based on factors like the girls’ ACT scores and school grade point averages that had been determined before they arrived to compete.

The interview portion took place on Thursday. Each girl faced the judges on their own so they could focus on answering the questions with no fear of judgment from the audience and not be able to copy other girls’ answers, according to the judges.

It was in the self-expression category that each girl did answer a question in front of the audience.

The question, which was the same for every girl, was this: “As Tennessee’s Distinguished Young Woman, what kind of legacy would you like to leave?” 

Answers ranged from wanting to start a nonprofit that would allow people to have orthodontic work done so they could “get into places they would not be able to otherwise” to wanting to be remembered not for a specific act but instead for having a moral character.

Some girls also presented their talents to the judges. The range of talents included classical ballet, songs from musicals and other works and dramatic monologues.

Friday’s event also saw some of the contestants taking part in the competition’s fitness category. Girls did a choreographed exercise routine onstage to Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It,” and judges were to give them scores based on factors like stamina and agility.

Saturday’s event was designed to allow girls to complete their final competition events, present some extra entertainment to the audience and announce who would be the Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee for 2014.

The winner of the final event on Saturday night will go to the national Distinguished Young Women competition in June of 2014.