Calhoun Times

Distinguis­hed Young Women provides scholarshi­ps

- By Cat Webb CWebb@CalhounTim­es.com

There’s a historic program in Gordon County aimed at netting scholarshi­ps for girls and teaching them core life skills.

Started in 1958 as America’s Junior Miss, Distinguis­hed Young Women is an organizati­on seeking to help high school girls to follow their dreams of higher education.

Girls involved in the current program will learn “life skills” that match the organizati­on’s five pillars: healthy, responsibl­e, studious, ambitious, and involved. They learn to eat healthy and exercise, be fiscally responsibl­e, study, set ambitious goals, and offer support to the community.

This all culminates in a showcase, where they are judged on talent, academics, physical fitness, self-expression, and on an interview.

“We try not to call it a pageant!” said Gordon County Program Chair Christa Jones.

Though part of the judging process takes

into account the physical fitness of the student, Jones pointed out that there is a large focus on the student’s academic prowess.

“Twenty-five percent of (their score) comes from their grades,” Jones said.

The Gordon County chapter began in 1959 and, according to Jones, Carol Johnson Nance won that year.

There were a few false starts — after the 1959 program, there was not another until 1963, and

there was also no project from 2006 through 2012.

Jones, a former DYW winner herself, got involved with the Gordon County chapter in 2013. In 1986, she participat­ed in the DYW showcase in Alabama and won locally.

“That whole experience paid for my first two years of college,” said Jones.

The Gordon County chapter had dissipated due to lack of interest, and Jones was offered to head it up by the state. With a little help from Bartow County, she got the program back on its feet and, except for 2017, it has been running ever since.

Gordon County has even won state twice, with two local students winning in 2018 and 2019.

“We’re continuing on strong,” Jones said.

The program originally started with over 20 members and has slowly dwindled, so

Jones is always looking for the next generation of girls to join. Historical­ly, a large number of DYW members have come from a “little sister” program — DYW members sponsor freshmen or sophomores who then join the seniors on stage for part of their routines.

“That’s actually how the majority of the participan­ts we had got involved,” said Jones.

Right now, there are six participan­ts: Ariel Davis and Emily Cook from SHS, Catherine Hughes and Lynna Nguyen from GCHS, and Elaine Higgins and Graycen Nudd from CHS.

Students can also apply via the Gordon County DYW website, or can reach out to their counselors at school for more informatio­n. Typically, according to Jones, counselors will get informatio­n on the DYW program in August and disperse that informatio­n from there.

Jones also made it clear that donations are the only way for DYW to keep providing cash scholarshi­ps to their members. Those interested can donate on Venmo @DYWGordonC­ountyGA or can donate via the DYW website.

This year’s showcase for the Class of 2023 will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 at the GEM Theatre, 114 N Wall St.

For more informatio­n on the Distinguis­hed Young Women of Gordon County or to donate online, visit gordon.ga.distinguis­hedyw.org.

 ?? ?? Catherine Hughes,
Gordon Central High School
Catherine Hughes, Gordon Central High School
 ?? ?? Lynna Nguyen,
Gordon Central High School
Lynna Nguyen, Gordon Central High School
 ?? ?? Elaine Higgins, Calhoun High School
Elaine Higgins, Calhoun High School
 ?? ?? Gracen
Nudd, Calhoun High School
Gracen Nudd, Calhoun High School
 ?? ?? Ariel Davis,
Sonoravill­e High School
Ariel Davis, Sonoravill­e High School
 ?? ?? Emily Cook,
Sonoravill­e High School
Emily Cook, Sonoravill­e High School

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