This younger generation

“What’s this younger generation coming to?!”

I’m sure you’ve heard that before … and probably said it yourself.

Well, if you’d been at the Distinguished Young Women program Saturday night, you’d see what this generation is coming to.

Fifteen young ladies did fitness routines, performed talent selections, and answered questions in front of an auditorium full of people. I kept thinking, “I could never do that.” Not at that age, surely not at this age. I am in awe of anyone – especially high school students – who can do what these students did.

Each young lady was given one of two questions – How do you define the American Dream or Do you think higher education is a right or a privilege. As I understand, they did get the questions the night before, but you could tell they had put real thought into their answers. No fluff here.

In any program, there’s a hitch. Maggie Rowell, 2017 Distinguished Young Woman, should have been there Saturday night to walk her last walk, make her last remarks, and crown the new Distinguished Young Woman. However, on Friday, Maggie was hospitalized. She did record her last remarks, and it was played at the program, along with a power point presentation reflecting her year as the title holder. And as things do go awry sometimes, as she was speaking, you could hear the beep beep beep of hospital equipment in the background. This year’s program will no doubt be one for the books.

In covering the DYW program through the years, we know it is not a pageant – it’s a scholarship program. And that it is. These young ladies walked off stage with thousands of dollars in scholarship offers.

One of the great aspects of the DYW program is that it enables younger girls to prepare to compete when they come of age.

Little Sisters shadow and assist their Big Sisters (the participants) throughout the process. This year’s Little Sisters were Chelsea Black, Arieyona Collins, Magan Engle, Sarah Grace Gerety, Tori Gillam, Kaeli Gumapac, Kennedy Harp, Bailey Hayles, Dominique Jackson, Mary Grace Milligan, Lexy Qualls, Raeven Ramer, Janiyah Rogers, Gabby Soloman, and Tess Thomas.

Distinguished Darlings are girls in grades nine through 11 who help with lights, sound, tickets, and curtains during the program. They get a firsthand experience at how the program runs before being old enough to become a Little Sister or compete. This year’s Distinguished Darlings were Alyssa Askew, Tori Barksdale, Hannah Day, Harley Butts, Allison Graves, Lashae Hill, Anna Grace Janes, Madison Moye, Makayla Richardson, Ziah Watson, and Mattie White.

Organizers Suzanne Barnett and Molly Barnett have assembled a great team who work behind the scenes and out front to keep this program going in the county. Although it appears seamless, no doubt there is organized chaos back stage.

So, back to my original thought – what’s this younger generation coming to? If you wonder, why not plan to attend next year’s Distinguished Young Women program. You’ll be heartened.