FHS Juniors Win Franklin’s Distinguished Young Women

Hailey Demello and Helen Huang win this year’s DYW scholarship showcase.


From left to right: Gabbie Blood (Franklin’s DYW of 2014), Kendra Dombroski (Franklin’s DYW of 2015), Helen Huang (Franklin’s DYW of 2016), Hailey Demello (Great Norfolk’s DYW of 2016), Samantha Moccia (Greater Norfolk’s DYW of 2015), and Katie Texiera (Franklin DYW Class of 2014)

Alycia Felli, Features Editor

On Saturday, May 21st, seven girls braced themselves behind the curtain at Dean College’s main stage. Months of preparation led to this: the main showcase.

Hailey Demello, FHS Junior, says “I wanted to compete because I knew Kendra Dombroski who had competed last year and won the title of Distinguished Young Woman of Franklin and everyone who competed with her cam out of the program just loving it, so when Kylee Hurley told me to attend a meeting with her, I did!”

The Distinguished Young Women competition is divided into 5 sections. The scholastic portion consists of a transcript analysis, this year performed by the Dean College admissions office. The next portion, interview, consists of a 10 minute conversation with the panel of judges. Both of these portions occurred before the showcase.

Emcee for the night, Brittany Churchill (Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts 2013), introduced the proceedings for the night. The first onstage portion was fitness, consisting of a routine to Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter”, choreographed by Amy Azza. The victors of this portion were Helen Huang and Hailey Demello.

For the following portion, each of the seven girls performed their own individual talent of choice. Katy Smith sang “Your Song” by Elton John; Hannah Silverman performed a Vinyasa Flow routine; Vicky Morales tap danced to “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz; Kylee Hurley recited her original poem dedicated to victims of cancer; Hailey Demello sang “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé; Sami Heeder played the piano and sang “Lost Boy” by Ruth B.; and Helen Huang played a portion of Franz Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, S. 161, NO. 5, on the piano. Sami Heeder and Helen Huang won this portion for their exemplary performances.

In between the components of the show, former Distinguished Young Woman of Greater Norfolk, Samantha Moccia, performed a lyrical dance and gave words of encouragement to the competitors. Later, Karissa Ford of the Franklin DYW class of 2005, came back and performed her award-winning “Cabaret” performance and spoke of her abusive relationship throughout high school. Now 28, Karissa has a fitness sponsorship with Under Armour and runs to inspire. Emcee Brittany Churchill also performed her award-winning talent component, singing “Phantom of the Opera”.

The last portion of the night was that of self-expression. This portion consists of a pre-determined question, this year’s being “If you had to give one piece of advice all day everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?”. The responses varied but consistently surrounded the theme of being your best self. Helen Huang and Hailey Demello also won this portion.

At the end of the night, Helen Huang came out as Franklin’s new Distinguished Young Woman, and Hailey Demello as Greater Norfolk’s. Katy Smith was the first runner up, meaning that if either Helen or Hailey can not fulfill their duties, she takes their place. Victoria Morales won the Fundraising Award, and Sami Heeder was awarded the Amy Callahan Spirit Award.

“Now that I have experienced what the local program has to offer, I am so thankful that I did it” says Huang. “DYW has helped improve my public speaking and interview skills, and it has inspired me to be my best self in everything that I do. I really look forward to meeting the other Distinguished Young Women of Massachusetts, and I hope to make many more unforgettable memories on the rest of my DYW journey.”

Hailey and Helen will be competing in the statewide DYW competition this August.