Meridian Star

February 17, 2013

Distinguished Young Women

Local high school girls vie for Meridian, Lauderdale County titles

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The 2014 Meridian/Lauderdale County Distinguished Young Woman program will be Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at the MSU Riley Center. Six young ladies will be competing for the title of Lauderdale County's Distinguished Young Woman while 12 young ladies compete for Meridian's title.

    The 2013 Distinguished Young Woman of Meridian Rachel Varela and 2013 Distinguished Young Woman of Lauderdale County Mackenzie Ross will be on hand to congratulate the new winners, who will each earn a $5,000 cash scholarship. More than $26,000 in cash scholarships will be presented during the evening which honors young ladies in their 11th grade year of high school.

    Contestants are judged in the following areas:

    • Panel Evaluation: 25 percent – A 10-minute interview is conducted with each candidate. The judge's panel scores the candidate on perception, personality, a sense of values, clarity of expression and human relations.

    • Talent: 25 percent – Judging is based on originality, technical ability, appropriateness of selection and costume, stage presence and performance.

    • Scholastic Achievement:  20 percent – A panel of qualified educators reviews and rates transcripts of grades and scores of scholastic and college entrance exams.

    • Physical Fitness: 15 percent – Contestants are scored on coordination, stamina, agility, posture and carriage, attitude and overall conditioning to the choreographed routine.

    • Self Expression: 15 percent – Grace, poise, carriage and posture are considered along with composure and speech.



Lauderdale County

contestants include:



Natalie Louise Williams

School: Lamar High School

Career Goals: Forensic Pathologist

College Choices: Vanderbilt University

Activities/Honors: Member of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * Bible Drills * Mayor's Youth Leadership Council * Lamar Junior Varsity and Varsity Basketball * LHS Varsity Track * Junior Varsity Softball and Soccer * EMEPA Youth Leadership Program * Red Cross Certified Lifeguard * Piano Student

Talent: Piano Solo Hungarian Opus 39, No. 12 by Edward MacDowell



Kinsey Nicole Thornton

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Physiatrist

College Choices: Tulane University or the University of Mississippi

Activities/Honors: National Honors Society * Youth Advisory Committee * Meridian High Newspaper Staff * Meridian High School Varsity Cheerleading * Dusty Social Service Club-Social Chairman * Central United Methodist Church Youth Group * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * Southern Debutant Assembly * 12 years of gymnastics * Guitar Lessons

Talent: Dance/Tumbling to "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls



Kristen Paige Hull

High School: Southeast Lauderdale High School

Career Goals: Dental Hygienist

College Choices: MCC/UMC

Activities/Honors: Stage 2 Theater Group * FCA Huddle Leaders * Cambiata Children's Chorus * HOSA * Spanish Club * FCCLA * Member of Oak Grove Baptist Church * Serves on Children's Activities Committee * BETA Club * Member of Leadership Lauderdale

Talent: Vocal Presentation to "Own My On" from "Les Miserables" by Herbert Kretzmer



Caroline Ann Henson

High School: West Lauderdale High School

Career Goals: Medical Field

College Choices: Mississippi State University

Activities/Honors: Member of Oak Hill Baptist Church * Member of Oak Hill Baptist Church Youth Group * Member of Oak Hill Baptist Church Youth Choir * Fellowship of Christian Athletes-Huddle Leader * Member of West Lauderdale High School Cheer Team * Member of West Lauderdale High School Dance Team * Staff member at East Mississippi Cheerleading * Team member at East Mississippi Cheerleading * Lance Staff Member (Yearbook) * Health Occupations Students of America Member

Talent: Dance/Gymnastics Routine to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston



Victoria Ann Neal

High School: Lamar High School

Career Goals: Physical Therapy

College Choices: University of Mississippi

Activities/Honors: Beta Club * National Honor Society * Dusty Social Service Club * 15th Avenue Baptist Church Youth Group * Cambiata Singers * Voice Lessons * Lamar High School Varsity Softball Team * Riverview Camp for Girls-10 years * Missions in Macedonia and the Dominican Republic * NRA Certified Rifle Instructor

Talent: Vocal Presentation of "Over the Rainbow" in the style of Katherine McPhee



Millery Denise Null

High School: West Lauderdale High School

Career Goals: Cheerleading Coach/Open own cheerleading gym

College Choices: University of Alabama

Activities/Honors: Attends First Baptist Church of Collinsville * West Lauderdale High School Cheerleading Team * EMC All-Star Cheerleader for the Vipers and Cobras * West Lauderdale High School Dance Team * Coach Cheerleading and Gymnastics at East Mississippi Cheerleading * Member of WLHS HOSA * Gymnastics * Wakeboarding * Snowboarding

Talent: Gymnastics/Cheer Routine to music mix by Choreographer Laura Posey



Meridian contestants include:



Diana Marie Gordon

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Psychiatric Doctor

College Choices: Mississippi State University

Activities/Honors: Historian of the YAC Club for Gear Up * Attends Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church * Member of the Meridian High Volleyball Team * Member of the MHS Yearbook Staff * Attended CMA School of Dance * Captain of the JV Cheerleading Squad at MHS * Member of the MHS National Honor Society * Member of the MHS Band * Diamond Girl for the Meridian High Baseball Team * Member of the MHS Video Production Staff

Talent: Lyrical Dance to "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera



Rose Marie Lau

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Adolescent Therapist with an Emphasis in Art

College Choices: University of Southern Mississippi

Activities/Honors: Stage 2 Teen Theatre Group * Meridian Museum of Art with Mrs. Marsha Iverson * Dance with Meridith Jones-Mary Alpha School of Dance * Voice with Dr. Bob Hermetz * Cambiata Youth Choir * Dusty Social Service Club * Meridian Little Theatre Musical Productions * Savannah College of Art and Design Summer Program * Oklahoma City University Summer Musical Program * Boot Camp Class at Anderson's Fitness Center

Talent: Lyrical Ballet to "Papa Can You Hear Me?" (musical Yentl) by Michel Legrand



Ali Nicole Acord

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Political Science

College Choices: University of Mississippi

Activities/Honors: Northcrest Baptist Church Choir * Velocity Youth Choir at Northcrest Baptist * Drum Major of the Wildcat Marching Band * Meridian High School's Web Page Staff * Meridian High School's Reverie Staff * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * National Honor Society * Leadership Lauderdale Youth * Chaplain of Meridian's Junior Civitan * Member of the Meridian High School Wind Ensemble

Talent: Piano Solo to "Solfeggietto" by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach



Bethany Jean Miller

High School: Calvary Christian School

Career Goals: Computer Forensics

College Choices: University of Alabama-Birmingham

Activities/Honors: Competitive Dancer at Amy's School of Dance * Calvary Christian Cheerleader * Student Government * Church Youth Group * Calvary Christian School Softball Team * Children's Choir Assistant * HOBY participant * 30hr Famine Participant * MLT Youth Productions * Yearbook Staff

Talent: Musical Theater Dance to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by Bette Midler



Jennifer Brooke Hunter

High School: Lamar High School

Career Goals: Forensic Crime Scene Investigator

College Choices: University of Illinois

Activities/Honors: Dusty Social Service Club * National Beta Club * Carol Merrill Academy of Dance Performance Company * Meridian Little Theater * Lamar High School Raiderettes Dance Team 2009-2011 * Mu Alpha Theta * Jeans for Teens

Talent: Ballet Dance en Pointe to "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saëns



Mia Madeline Hall

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Television Writer and Producer

College Choices: New York University

Activities/Honors: Dusty Social Service Club * Junior Civitan Vice President * RAT Pack Performer * Bob Westbrook Vocal Performer * Meridian Little Theater Performer * Carol Merrill Performance Company * Mary Alpha Performance Company * Challenger League Assistant * Lamar High School Cheerleader * Cambiata Choir Vocalist

Talent: Vocal Presentation (opera) to "Vole Mon Ange" by Frank Wildhorn



Sarah Claire McCraw

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Doctor of Osteopathy

College Choices: University of Mississippi

Activities/Honors: Member of the Mediator Episcopal Church * Active Member of the Mediator Episcopal Youth * Youth Advisory Committee for Meridian High School * Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Meridian High * Leadership Lauderdale Youth * Dusty Social Service Club * Meridian Little Theatre * Meridian High School Varsity Cheerleading * Carol Merrill Academy Performance Company * Community Dance Project with Moscow Ballet

Talent: Jazz Dance to "Here I Am" Broadway's Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels by David Yazbek



Lauren Nicole Gaddie

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Pharmacist

College Choices: University of Mississippi

Activities/Honors: Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church Youth * National Honors Society * The National Society of High School Scholars * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * MHS Junior Civitan Club * Dusty Social Service Club * Youth Advisory Committee * MHS Varsity Cheerleading

Talent: Flute Solo to "Little Serenade" by Joseph Haydn



Margaret Grace Griffin

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Education or Optometry

College Choices: University of Mississippi

Activities/Honors: National Honor Society * Dance, CMA Competitive Company Member * Meridian High School Varsity Cheerleader * St. Patrick Church Youth/Parish School Religion * YAC (Youth Advisory Council) Officer * Dusty Social Service Club Junior Class Representative * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * Meridian Little Theatre Productions Cast Member * St. Patrick Catholic Church Liturgical Dancer * Challenger League Volunteer

Talent: Jazz Dance to "It's About That Walk" by Prince



Katie Michelle Bruister

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Pediatrician

College Choices: University of Georgia

Activities/Honors: Leadership Lauderdale * Meridian High School Varsity Cheerleader * National Honor Society * Competitive Dance at Carol Merrill Academy * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * Piano with Debbie Hermetz * Meridian High School Varsity Tennis * Dusty Social Service Club * Youth Advisory Council (10th Grade President) * President of Junior Civitan at Meridian High

Talent: Piano selection "Egyptian Rhapsody" by Nancy Faber



Alice Katherine McKelvey

High School: Lamar School

Career Goal: Music Supervisor/ Music Technology

College Choices: Belmont University

Activities/Honors: National Honor Society * Beta Club * Mu Alpha Theta * Spanish Honor Society * LHS Cross Country, Captain * LHS Softball * LHS Track * LHS Basketball * First Presbyterian Youth Group * Guitar & Piano

Talent: Vocal performance with guitar accompaniment to "Train Song" by Vashti Bunyan



Tykia Breshae Watts

High School: Meridian High School

Career Goals: Pre-Med Career, OB-GYN

College Choices: Undecided

Activities/Honors: Freedom Rock - Church Member/Nursery Ministry * National Honor Society * Youth Advisory Council * Fellowship of Christian Athletes * Varsity Cheerleading Squad * Marching Band * Meridian High School Theatre Group * Varsity Powerlifting Team * Art Club * Track Team

Talent: Tenor Saxophone Performance to "My Heart Will Go On" by Céline Dion