BONNERS FERRY — Dressed in a brilliant red circus ringmaster suit, Distinguished Young Women 2018 Mistress of Ceremonies, McKenzie MacDonald, called out to the packed auditorium, “Welcome to the greatest show on earth!”
“This is Under the Big Top! Now step right up and prepare to be astonished and amazed, because right before your very own eyes, spectacular performances have been assembled for your delight and amusement,” MacDonald continued, setting the scene on April 28 for the circus-themed Distinguished Young Women competition.
Over the next two and a half hours, the audience was treated to the talents of the nine DYW contestants, as they competed in multiple categories. Between competitions, the evening was filled with circus themed musical acts by the competitors, DYW Forget-Me-Nots, and the Young Misses.
“The Bonners Ferry DYW Committee is very proud of all nine participants from this years’ program,” said DYW Chairman Andrakay Pluid. “All of these young ladies are very talented and distinguished and we loved seeing them grow and improve through this process.”
Among the nine contestants — Emily Blackmore, Shawna Siver, Lindsey Christopherson, Jazmyne Lederhos, Rachael Robinson, Hannah Beazer, Jerzie Pluid, Stormy Fahey and Ashley Guttin — one rose to take the title.
Siver was named 2018-19 Distinguished Young Woman, earning her a $2,600 DYW Scholarship, the official DYW Medallion, gift basket from the Kootenai River Inn, a photo shoot with Picturesque Photography, and gift certificates from Hair Connection, Larson’s Department Store, Homestead Coffee Co., and Kootenai River Brewing Co.
Siver hopes to attend Cornell University and become a zoology specialist. She enjoys working, reading, hiking, and taking pictures, and her activities include National Honor Society, Future Farmers of America, and 4-H. She was sponsored by the Bonners Ferry Eagles Aerie #3522.
“Shawna decided to run away and join the DYW to help herself grow as a person and to build relationships with those in her class and her community,” said MacDonald, introducing the contestants with the theme of “running away to join the circus.”
For the 90 second talent portion of the show, which is judged on technical ability, appropriateness of selection, stage presence, difficulty of selection of performance, execution, showmanship, and projection, Siver chose to do a vocal solo. She sang “Unholy War” because it showcased the power of her voice.
“Shawna has always loved to sing and especially loves the style that jazz provides, with the sound of the piano, trumpets, and base, holding a very special in her heart,” said MacDonald when introducing her.
Siver also won the Interview category, which took place prior to the show. During the 10-minute interview, the contestants are judged on mental alertness, perception, personality, sense of values, clarity of expression, human relations, and accomplishments. The award came with an $850 DYW Scholarship and other prizes.
Siver and Blackmore both won the Scholastic category which is evaluated by a trained educator, based on GPA, strength of schedule, standardized test scores, and overall academic achievement, earning them each a $950 DYW Scholarship and prizes.
Jerzie Pluid’s great-grandmother was crowned as the very first Miss Bonners Ferry, which inspired her to follow in her footsteps and pursue DYW. She was named First Runner-Up, earning her a $1,900 DYW Scholarship and prizes. She was sponsored by Beta Sigma Phi.
Pluid also dominated the Fitness category, taking home the $850 DYW Scholarship, drawing on her love of sports as a participant in volleyball, basketball, and track — despite having undergone shoulder surgery. The fitness category evaluated the contestant’s overall condition, set to a choreographed routine, performing as a group and individually.
The 2nd Runner-Up title went to Guttin, sponsored by the Moyie Shrine Club. She earned a $1,500 DYW Scholarship and prizes. Guttin also won the Self-Expression which is designed to evaluate the contestants demeanor, poise, and speaking ability.
“They say you should shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars,” said Guttin during the question portion of the Self-Expression.
She explained to the audience and judges that, for most of her life, she had been afraid to take risks. Due to major life changes in the previous year, she chose to use her savings and go to Uganda and Dubai this summer and distribute wheelchairs to the disabled.
“It’s kind of scary, to use all my savings money to go to a foreign country without my family, but I definitely think it will be worth it because I am influencing the lives of others, and I’m ready to shoot for the moon,” Guttin concluded.
Beazer’s fingers flew across the keys of the piano as she performed “Bumble Boogie” by Jack Fina, a jazzed up rendition of “The Flight of the Bumble Bee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The speed and intricacy of her performance earned the awe and attention of audience and judges alike, and winning her the $850 DYW Scholarship and prizes for the Talent portion of the competition.
“Hannah Beazer has been playing the piano since she was eight years old, after teaching herself with occasional help from her mother,” MacDonald explained to the audience. “She finally began taking lessons at 13, after her mom thought she was actually getting good.”
Blackmore, who won one of the two Scholastic awards, also won the Be Your Best Self award which is voted on by committee members. The five elements of the Be Your Best Self are be healthy, be involved, be ambitious, be studious, and be responsible, representing the heart of the DYW philosophy. She took home an $850 DYW Scholarship and prizes.
One of the most coveted awards is the Spirit of DYW, which is voted on by the contestants.
“To display the true spirit of Distinguished Young Woman, means to always do your best, have a positive attitude despite sometimes seemingly exhausting practices, difficult personal situations, and to always be encouraging and inspiring to others,” MacDonald explained to the audience.
Fahey, who captured the audience’s hearts with her Creative Movement performance, won the Spirit of DYW award, earning her an $850 DYW Scholarship and prizes. Her performance was an emotional sign language dance to the song “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed.
The DYW program was more than just a night of fun and hard work. The participants were taught the importance of volunteering and were given an opportunity to visit the residents at the Restorium and work with children involved in 4-H. They also helped with the Hope House clothing Giveaway, collected and assembled snack bags for the Boco Backpack program, and plunged into the Kootenai River during the Penguin Plunge for Special Olympics.
Last years Distinguished Young Woman, Hannah Sims, explained that it had been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, and that it was so much more than just a scholarship program.
“This past year has taught me that being distinguished is not about the title or grand actions. It is about the little things that you do when you think that no one is watching, and who you are when no one else is around. It’s about being your best self, and striving each and every day to stay true to who you are,” Sims said during her farewell speech.
“We are so thankful for this community that supports DYW and allows us to help provide this experience to young ladies each year,” said DYW Chairman Andrakay Pluid. “We feel this years’ program was a great success and certainly a night to remember.”
Shawna Siver will go on to represent Bonners Ferry at the state competition in Idaho Falls, Oct. 5-6, 2018.