The contestants were poised in their pretty dresses.
Everyone looked friendly and talented.
Evans decided she wanted to be one of those smiling faces in the scholarship program for rising juniors.
Finally, it was her turn. She beat out 12 other contestants at the local level to make it to state which was held in Cleveland.
“My expectations were exactly how it is. The girls were so sweet and the chairpeople that ran it were wonderful and super encouraging ...,” Evans said. “The atmosphere they prepared for us was great.”
State contestants met in Cleveland for five days of practice leading up to the two-night competition. Hours were spent perfecting the self-expression routine and meeting fitness requirements.
Some girls appeared to focus solely on the competition.
Evans said she was there to have fun.
Making friends was an appreciated bonus.
“I’ve watched pageant shows, so I was hoping it would be nothing like that,” Evans said. “Pageant girls are scary.”
She pointed out while DYW is not a pageant, several contestants were former pageant participants.
Every DYW contestant is placed with a host family for the duration of the contest. Despite the program taking place in her hometown, Evans claimed she was probably the most homesick of the contestants. She was in the same town as her family, but was unable to see them.
Reaching the end of the first night of competition felt great.
“After the first night, the feeling at the halfway point was the best, because we weren’t done, but we were almost done,” Evans said. “My harder stuff, like talent and fitness, were complete that day.”
Added Evans, “I slept well that night knowing I was going to get to see my family the next day.”
Two older siblings, Meryn and Luke, and a younger sister, Julia, make up Evans’ family along with her parents.
DYW is now several weeks behind Evans. This week begins her senior year of high school. She said her goal is to enjoy every minute of her last year while trying to figure out where and what she will study in college.
For now Cleveland is enough.
“Cleveland suits me,” Evans said. “It has everything I need here: my family, my friends, good places to eat, the mountains nearby. It is just a beautiful place.”
Evans has the opportunity to give back to her city through her work with DYW.
“With the platform I have, I can really reach out to my community. They have plans for me to speak at several clubs and organizations here in Cleveland,” Evans said. “I am going to be speaking in school and talking to kids about how important an education is and being physically fit.”
She explained she knows the importance of being involved in school and would like to share her experiences with others. As cheer captain, student government representative and swim team member at Bradley Central High School, Evans knows a thing or two about being plugged in to her surroundings.
The rising senior also engages in activities outside of her school by giving violin lessons, being active in her church and participating in community service.
Evans said she is happy with where she is at. The next year will be devoted to soaking in every final high school experience.
She encourages others to do the same.
“Get involved. Join every club,” Evans said. “Do as many sports as you can. Really enjoy it.”