The scholarship program awards a total of $4,900 in funds among 11 high school juniors each year as they prepare to embark on their journey into a collegiate career. Categories for judgment include, Be Your Best Self, Junior Miss Spirit, Scholastics, Talent, Fitness and Self Expression. The girls performed a variety of dance expression and musical talents through voice and instrument throughout the talent portion of the contest as well as expressing their thoughts in the Self Expression category.
The Self Expression award is presented to two of the contestants for $200 each. Mary-Clayton Gilbert and Johannah Nunez were this year's winners after answering a question that was tailored to each contestant and presented to them after the previous night's dress rehearsal.
The Fitness award, also presented to two contestants for $200 each was awarded to Mary-Clayton Gilbert and Erica Garland. In the talent competition for another $200 scholarship, Mary-Clayton Gilbert and Sara Whitener were declared the winners. Scholastics are awarded based on academic excellence and the $200 scholarship was earned by Bonnie Rowland and Claire Woods.
Based on the contestant's enthusiasm throughout the competition and her compassion for her fellow ladies, Sara Whitener was honored with the Junior Miss Spirit award for $200. Also earning $200 for the Be Your Best Self award was Amanda Haney.
In the final area of the overall competition winners, Bonnie Rowland was named the Second Honoree with $700 and Lauren Kirkland became the First Honoree with $900.
The Distinguished Young Woman for the graduating class of 2012 is Mary-Clayton Gilbert, earning the $1,300 grand scholarship prize.
"This is unreal," said Gilbert, as she remained on stage for photographs and congratulations before joining the crowd of supporters. "It was a wonderful experience to be a part of this program."
Caroline Lloyd, the 2011 Distinguished Young Woman for Bartow County, will be continuing her journey through the state program in June and Gilbert will join others for the 2012 class in July as they compete for the state championship before going on to nationals.