By: Megan Gehmlich
Madison High School’s Distinguished Young Woman, Elisa Walker teaches young girls the importance of being their best selves in a completely unique and inspiring way.
On Saturday, Jan 30, around 50 girls aged fourth to sixth grade gathered at the junior high school. They were taught what it takes to become confident and genuinely happy through the instruction of Elisa Walker and several other members of the community.
“We have five different elements we try to teach the girls through the Be Your Best Self Program. They are to be healthy, be ambitious, be involved, be responsible, and be studious,” said Walker. “We feel like if girls are strong in these aspects of their lives that they can truly become their best selves.”
In fact, Elisa took her own spin on the Be Your Best Self Program as she taught girls the importance of letting their dreams literally soar.
“I wanted the girls to write down one dream or goal that they had or wanted to accomplish. I then had them attach their dream or goal to a yellow balloon,” said Walker. “As we let the balloons go, I tried to teach the girls that through following the 5 elements of the Be Your Best Self Program that they can accomplish their dreams, and that the sky’s the limit.”
Almost any student at Madison High School can agree that Elisa’s level of dedication and love for the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) Program is truly spectacular. She even spent her time instructing and uplifting these local girls on her own birthday!
“What made my birthday so special was when all the girls sang happy birthday to me right as we let all of the balloons go. They then all gave me a giant group hug… It felt good to know that I spent my birthday serving others and being an example to younger girls,” said Walker.
As Madison’s DYW, Elisa is also focusing her efforts on helping this years group of aspiring Distinguished Young Women.
“Being in DYW has helped me become a better person. It has given me confidence and helped me discover talents that I didn’t have before. I have learned more about myself, and have become a better person,” said Walker.
Distinguished Young Women: Empowering and Improving Madison’s Young Ladies
By: Sarah Paepke
The Distinguished Young Women Pageant, otherwise known as Junior Miss, is quickly approaching at Madison High. This year’s participants are preparing to show the school and the community what they can do! The program gives girls who are in their junior year of high school the opportunity to develop their talents, express themselves, get physically fit, and perform in front of an audience.
Morgan Callister, a contestant in this year’s pageant, explained that the program has improved her poise.
“It has helped me become more of a lady,” said Callister.
Ashley Burt, another contestant this year, has benefited from preparing to perform in front of an audience, and overcoming the fear of being onstage.
“I have an issue with stage fright, so I wanted to improve that. I think that Junior Miss has helped it get better,” said Burt.
A great amount of extra time and effort goes into this pageant. The girls meet at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to practice their self expression, fitness routine, and interviews. Many of the girls’ Saturdays consist of preparation for DYW as well.
The program also presents an opportunity for the girls to bond with one another and build friendships.
“It’s brought me closer to a lot more people than I thought it was going to; people that I thought were more popular or above me, and they aren’t anything like I thought they were,” said Callister.
Burt also explained that because there is very diverse group of girls this year, they have had a lot of fun together.
DYW provides countless benefits for the young women that participate. Not only does it
open the door for great scholarships and impressive resumes, but it also allows the girls to develop personal skills that they will use in every aspect of their lives.
Sommer Waldron recognizes and appreciates the skills that she is learning from this pageant.
“My favorite part of this experience has been learning how to speak in front of people, because I’ll take those skills out of this and use them in my life,” said Waldron.
It takes a lot of time, energy, and determination to participate in this pageant. Ashley Burt provided some advice for girls who plan on being a part of the program in years to come.
“Don’t be afraid to express yourself, and you are going to get out of your comfort zone,” said Burt.
The Distinguished Young Women program has benefited and inspired countless young ladies, and it will continue to be a wonderful way for girls at our school to express themselves, and develop lifelong skills.