The 2015 Distinguished Young Women of Cleveland Scholarship Program, held Saturday evening at First Baptist Church, proved to be one of the most exciting events in Cleveland. The program titled “In The Mirror” was filled with incredible choreography, amazing performances and wonderful costumes. More importantly, several of Cleveland’s exceptional young ladies and young gentlemen reflected the grace, poise, talent and charm that has come to distinguish the celebrated occasion.
The event opened with what was described as “a phenomenal performance” by Kyle Tatum. Tatum danced to a mix of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits. Tatum was joined by Laura Kate Evans, the 2014 Distinguished Young Woman of Cleveland. Soon after the pair performed, Evans was joined onstage by members of the Westmore Church of God choir as well as the 22 outstanding young ladies vying for the title of 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of Cleveland. The group performed to Michael Jackson’s, “Man in the Mirror.”
Each of the 22 contestants were required to perform a fitness routine choreographed by Whitney Roberts, a self-expression routine choreographed by Ashley Stinson, and a talent of their choice. Earlier that morning each young lady underwent a 10-minute interview with five judges from surrounding counties. In addition to fitness, self-expression, talent, and interview, the girls were judged on their scholastic accomplishments by an independent panel of local academic professionals.
At the conclusion of the evening, Savannah Stone, a student at Walker Valley High School, was named the 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of Cleveland. Stone also received the Spirit of Distinguished Young Woman award (voted on by the contestants) as well as the overall interview award, the overall talent award, and the overall self-expression award.
Stone will go on to compete in the 2015 Distinguished Young Women of Tennessee program to be held at the Dixon Center at Lee University in July.
Abbi Cook, a student at Bradley Central High School, was named first runner-up, and received honorable mentions in self-expression, fitness and interview. Marah Whitaker, a student at Walker Valley High School, was named second runner-up. Emily Hicks, a student at Cleveland High School, was named third runner-up. Hicks also won the overall fitness award, the community service award, and honorable mention in creative writing.
Other program awards went to Mary Klepzig of Walker Valley High School, who received the overall scholastics award; Anna Betts of Walker Valley High School, who received the overall creative writing award and honorable mention in talent; Mallory Wickam of Walker Valley High School, who received honorable mention in scholastics; Hannah Thurmond, of Walker Valley High School, who received honorable mention in community service; and Stella Buckner and Jada Blackwell, who received the photographer’s choice award.
Local radio personality Bridget Baggett Forester served as mistress of ceremonies and David Goodwill served as master of ceremonies. Additional entertainment was provided by Laura Kate Evans, the 2014 Distinguished Young Woman of Cleveland, who wowed the audience with vocal and violin performances and the very entertaining escorts who performed twice during the program.
The Distinguished Young Women of Cleveland Committee, which is comprised of community volunteers, extended a very special thanks to the families of the young ladies and young men as well as the individuals and businesses who helped support this year’s program with scholarship money, time and valuable services.
Scholarships for the program were provided by state Sen. Mike Bell and Rep. Kevin Brooks, Jack’s Kleen Rite, Bender Realty, SkyRidge Medical Center, Kay Free, Dr. Dennis Matzkin, Constant Companion, and Reba Garrison.
Studio D and Trace Pierce provided photography services and Perry’s Petals served as the official florist. Kendra Collins of Ever After Bridal served as the official outfitter for the program. A special thank you goes to Logan and Thompson and WTNB for having the program televised and to First Baptist Church of Cleveland for allowing the program to be held in its facility along with the First Baptist staff and crew who helped to create the memorable evening for all involved.