Thirteen to compete Sunday for scholarships, title of Greater Easthampton Distinguished Young Woman

Laste modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — The field of competitors who will show off talent, poise and other skills at this year’s Greater Easthampton Distinguished Young Women Competition Sunday is slightly smaller than usual at 13, but organizer Jennifer Lawton said it is one of the most “diverse” groups she’s seen in her 17 years with the program.

“They have some very different personalities. They’re very unique individuals,” said Lawton, the chairwoman of the local program’s board of directors. “Amongst the 13, they seem to be interested in a variety of things. Some are into sports, some love music.”

She expects those personalities to come out on stage at this year’s competition at the Academy of Music in Northampton. The high school seniors will show off their talents by dancing, singing, playing music, doing gymnastics or in one case, performing a basketball routine.

Lawton has gotten to know the girls, since they started attending vigorous four-hour practices in the end of September. It is the 48th year of the program, formerly called Junior Miss.

At the practices, they learn group dance numbers, a fitness and “self-expression” routine, and prepare their interview skills and a personal talent they will perform at the event.

They are judged in five categories: scholastics, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression, in which each girl speaks on stage. To be eligible to compete in the Greater Easthampton competition, the girls must be high school seniors and live in Easthampton, Southampton, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Goshen or Chesterfield. Usually between 15 and 18 compete.

The competitors are all hoping to be crowned the Greater Easthampton Distinguished Young Woman, who will then go on to represent the area at the state and national Distinguished Young Women competitions. But they are also working to win some of the $13,300 in scholarship money that is available not only to the winner and runners-up, but also to the winners of each of the five categories.

The theme for this year’s program is “Winter Wonderland,” Lawton said. The girls will tell the story of a snow day through seasonal song and dance numbers and dialogue.

The young woman crowned at last year’s event, Easthampton High School graduate Rachel Connell, now a student at Elms College in Chicopee, will also give her farewell speech and take part in some of the numbers.

Over the last year, Connell has represented the competition at parades and other events. At the state competition in Franklin during February, she took home the Spirit Award for the individual who is the most positive, enthusiastic and compassionate during the week-long event.

At the local competition this year, seven of the 13 girls competing are from Southampton. All Hampshire Regional High School seniors, they are Alyssa Hawkes, Brianna Weltlich, Catrina Camp, Alison Giles, Madison Boucher, Riley Glosick, and Jenessa Labrie.

Other Hampshire Regional High School students in the competition are Mikaela Fairman and Delaney Hackworth of Easthampton and Shannon Raymond of Westhampton.

The girls representing Easthampton High School, who all live in Easthampton, are Ashley Sharp, Kyra Blair, and Alexandria Dabek.

The hosts of the competition this year are former junior miss Joyce Crawford and Valley Free Radio’s Joshua Braska. The program begins at 1 p.m. and runs until about 4 or 4:30 p.m.

Tickets to the show cost $15 and are available online at www.academyofmusictheatre.com or at the door.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.