DYW contestants: Welcome to Cleveland!

Posted 7/17/19

Cleveland’s crowded streets probably don’t reflect the increase, but as of Sunday our city’s population grew by at least 19, and perhaps a couple hundred more when considering the entourage of …

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DYW contestants: Welcome to Cleveland!


Cleveland’s crowded streets probably don’t reflect the increase, but as of Sunday our city’s population grew by at least 19, and perhaps a couple hundred more when considering the entourage of proud parents — as well as siblings and other loved ones — who followed their daughters for a week of fun to Bradley County.

We refer, of course, to the arrival of contestants for the 2020 Distinguished Young Woman of Tennessee program, an annual celebration of teenage girls from across the state that promotes scholarship, leadership and talent.

It also encourages, and teaches, these young women of tomorrow to “Be Your Best Self.”

A program hosted for years in bigger cities, Distinguished Young Woman seems to have found a home in Cleveland. Our community welcomed DYW 12 years ago, and it has now become a part of our city’s everyday life at about this time during the month of July.

But there’s nothing “everyday” about these young ladies who have committed themselves to excellence — to their communities, their schools, their families and to themselves.

Readers were introduced to them with our special section in Sunday’s edition. Let us welcome them today on the Opinion page of the Cleveland Daily Banner, using the numbers by which they will be recognized throughout the week’s activities:

• No. 1: Olivia Anderson, DYW of Tullahoma

• No. 2: Madison Munn, DYW of Marion County

• No. 3: Natalie Ault, DYW of Shelby County

• No. 4: Kira Stander, DYW of Cleveland

• No. 5: Sophia Cardia, DYW of Ooltewah

• No. 6: Kimberly Maynard, DYW of Chattanooga

• No. 7: Natalie Stovall, DYW of Franklin County

• No. 8: Kennedy Brown, DYW of Memphis

• No. 9: Annabelle Sapp, DYW of Soddy-Daisy

• No. 10: Madelyn Smith, DYW of Rhea County

• No. 11: Mackayla Wall, DYW of East Brainerd

• No. 12: Angel Kreger, DYW of Collegedale

• No. 13: Presley Webb, DYW of McMinn County

• No. 14: Raven Hellena Guilford, DYW of Cumberland Valley

• No. 15: Alexia Woodard, DYW of Scenic City

• No. 16: Katelyn Lee, DYW of Hamilton County

• No. 17: Kendall Davis, DYW of Music City

• No. 18: Grace Shockley, DYW of Loudon County

• No. 19: Mary Humphrey, DYW of Warren County

As mentioned above, what is “Be Your Best Self” all about? It is about making a commitment to being their best in academics, physical fitness, morality, character, and social and civic participation.

This message empowers young women with valuable tools to face the challenges of negative peer pressure. Being “Your Best Self” is defined by five key elements:

• Be Healthy: Be physically fit and drug free.

• Be Involved: Serve your community.

• Be Studious: Stay in school.

• Be Ambitious: Set and achieve goals.

• Be Responsible: Live by moral and ethical principles.

It’s all about forging a trail for young women to become leaders for tomorrow, while building a legacy of involvement within their own communities — one that might encourage other young girls to do the same.

When not rehearsing each morning and returning for more every afternoon, these eager teens — the pride of their own hometown communities — are giving their best at appearances at Garden Plaza, the Rotary Club of Cleveland, Cleveland State Community College and Lee University, and they’re even saving a little time for an ice cream party at Baskin-Robbins Thursday night.

Preliminary and Finals programs are set for Friday and Saturday nights at 7 o’clock at Dixon Center on the Lee U campus.

We wish all 19 the best during their weeklong stay in our community.

We welcome them back — each and all — at any time of their choosing.


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