New Distinguished Young Woman selected for Lowndes County

Published 11:03 am Thursday, August 6, 2015

From left to right: Calhoun School’s Ashayla Hayes, Fort Dale Academy’s Mary Clare Carlton and Alabama Christian Academy’s Jordan Crook represented the Lowndes County Distinguished Young Woman competition as second runner-up, winner and first runner-up respectively.

From left to right: Calhoun School’s Ashayla Hayes, Fort Dale Academy’s Mary Clare Carlton and Alabama Christian Academy’s Jordan Crook represented the Lowndes County Distinguished Young Woman competition as second runner-up, winner and first runner-up respectively.

By Angie Long

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Last Saturday night in Greenville’s Ritz Theatre, three high school seniors who hail from Lowndes County vied for the title of its Distinguished Young Woman for 2016.

For the first time ever, the Lowndes County DYW participants joined with those from the Butler County program. All 17 of the girls performed ensemble dance routines, answered questions, presented their talents and put themselves through a grueling fitness routine before the same experienced panel of evaluators.

Earlier in the day, each contestant had a 10-minute interview with the panel, and each had previously been evaluated in reference to their scholastic abilities through school transcripts.  The Interview and Scholastic Achievement categories counted for 50 percent of each participant’s score, with Talent counting for 20 percent and Self-Expression and Fitness each counting for 15 percent of the total score.

In the end, it was Fort Dale Academy senior Mary Clare Carlton who was awarded the coveted Lowndes County DYW medallion and a $1,000 cash scholarship along with a $500 stipend for the state finals.

Mary Clare swept most of the category awards, including Interview, Scholastic Achievement, Talent, Fitness and the “Be Your Best Self Essay” award, earning an additional $500 in scholarship monies.  She performed a piano concerto by Tchaikovsky for her talent.

Lowndes County new DYW plans to attend the University of Alabama in Birmingham this fall to pursue a career as a pediatric surgeon. Mary Clare enjoys cycling and running along with participation in her school’s tennis and volley ball teams. A church youth leader, she also plays piano and guitar and performs in the Zone 4:12 praise band.

First runner-up Jordan Crook, a student at Alabama Christian Academy, received the Spirit Award along with the Self-Expression Award, garnering her a total of $200 in cash scholarship monies.

For her talent, Jordan sang the inspirational tune, “I Hope You Dance,” made famous by country singer Lee Ann Womack. After obtaining her degree from the University of South Alabama, Jordan aspires to a career in speech pathology.

Calhoun School student Ashayla Hayes, who performed a praise dance to “For Your Glory” by Tasha Cobbs, was selected second runner-up. Ashayla’s future plans are to attend the University of Alabama and pursue a law degree.

Distinguished Young Women (formerly Junior Miss) is the oldest and largest scholarship program for high school senior girls in the nation. More than 740,000 young women have participated, with more than $104 million in cash scholarships awarded at the local, state and national levels combined.