Franklin’s 2015 Distinguished Young Women

Franklin's 2015 Distinguished Young Women

Caroline Cafasso

From left to right: Katie Teixeira, Natalie Dumart, Marisa Crandall, 2015 winner Gabbie Blood, 2014 winner Rachita Chaudhury, Anna Kroon, and Emily Dutton

Caroline Cafasso

Caroline Cafasso, Editor

On November 30th, six FHS seniors competed in Franklin’s Distinguished Young Women, a scholarship program that rewards high school girls’ achievements in scholarship, leadership, and talent, at the First Universalist Society church in Franklin.

Gabbie Blood was awarded the title of Franklin’s 2015 Distinguished Young Woman and will go on to compete at the state level of the competition this February.

Franklin’s other participants were Marisa Crandall, Emily Dutton, Katie Teixeira, Natalie Dumart, and Anna Kroon. Katie Teixeira was the first runner up.

When asked about her accomplishment, Gabbie said, “It’s an honor! The program has been part of Franklin for a long time. In the 90’s, the program would have over 30 girls every year! It’s nice to be part of something that goes back in Franklin history.”

There are several different elements and levels of the competition that participants must prepare for. There are two winners in each category, and one overall winner who continues on in the program. Category-winners, the first runner-up, and the overwall winner all receive scholarships.

How It Works:

Scholastics, meaning academic success, is worth 20% of the judges’ score. Participants’ transcripts are processed and reviewed prior to the day of the competition.
The candidates also have private interviews with the judges earlier in the competition day that make up 25% of their score. Judges evaluate a participant’s personality, her ability to relate to others, her maturity, and her ability to express herself during a 10 minute personal interview.
Each girl must perform a talent in a 90-second presentation in front of the audience and judges that is worth 25% of their score. Judges look for technical ability, appropriateness of selection, stage presence, and execution.
The fitness category, making up 15% of the score, is reviewed by having all the girls complete a choreographed group aerobic routine, as well as an individual spotlight, during the competition. They are assessed on overall physical stamina, coordination, agility, and flexibility.
The final 15% is determined through the self-expression category. The candidates receive a question prior to the competition and must answer it during the competition, showcasing grace, poise, demeanor, posture, and speaking ability.

Franklin’s Categories and Winners:

  • 2015 Amy Callahan Spirit Award: Marisa Crandall
  • Fitness: Katie Teixeira and Gabbie Blood
  • Self-Expression: Gabbie Blood and Marisa Crandall
  • Scholastics: Katie Teixeira and Gabbie Blood
  • Talent: Emily Dutton and Marisa Crandall
  • Interview: Gabbie Blood and Katie Teixeira
  • First Runner Up: Katie Teixeira
  • Winner: Gabbie Blood

The winners of the local levels from towns and areas across Massachusetts go on to compete in the state level of the competition in February. Winners are chosen in each state in the country, and those girls then compete in nationals. The National Finals take place in Mobile, Alabama, the birthplace of the program, in the June after the young women graduate high school.

Participants do not have to pay to join the program, yet have the opportunity to earn hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money.

For Gabbie, the best part of the experience was “bonding with my fellow candidates. There were only six girls this year… Aside from Emily, who I ran cross country with, I knew the girls from class but it was nice to form real friendships outside of school. They are all very distinguished young women whom I respect very much.”

Starting this spring, the Distinguished Young Women program will no longer just be for senior girls, but also for juniors. It will also be expanding beyond Franklin to include the surrounding towns such as Wrentham. If interested, click here to apply.