Annual scholarship program sees 14 participants

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By Kacie Goode

Fourteen young ladies are vying Aug. 18 for the title of Nelson County’s next Distinguished Young Woman, part of a long-running national scholarship program designed to promote leadership, improve self-confidence and recognize young role models.

Open locally to high school juniors, the scholarship program was founded in 1958 as Junior Miss. Since its creation, thousands of teens from across the country have taken part. Contestants are judged on scholastics, interview skills, talent, fitness and self-expression, each counting for a percentage of their overall score.

The young women compete for scholarships from participating colleges and universities, and the winner of the Nelson County program advances to the state level in January to compete with other county winners for additional scholarships. The program also offers life skills-building opportunities through workshops on interviewing, public speaking and more.

The Nelson County program brings together students from four local high schools. Participating this year from Bethlehem are students Avani Patel, daughter of Alka and Jagdish Patel; Jordan Cross, daughter of Jeri and Allen Cross; Alexandra Duenzl, daughter of Stacey and Kris Duenzl;Olivia Bickett, daughter of Rosie and Michael Bickett;Gracie Avery, daughter of Stacie Provine; and Madie Sparks, daughter of Ali and David Sparks.

Bardstown High School is represented by Lauren Miles, daughter of Elizabeth and David Miles; Brienna Kinnison, daughter of Shellie and Nathan Kinnison; and Kristen Rogers, daughter of Dana and Shane Rogers.

Thomas Nelson has four participants with Haley Kennedy, daughter of Bill and Lisa Kennedy;

Jayden Mattingly, daughter of Jennifer and Troy Stone and Greg Mattingly; Maranda McCormick, daughter of Angela Cornell and Ron McCormick; and Mia Pardieu, daughter of Anne and Buzzy Pardieu.

Representing Nelson County High School is Amber Keene, daughter of Angie and Mark Keene.

The teens have worked hard over the last several weeks to prepare for the August contest through mock interviews, routine rehearsals and team building. Their work will be showcased at the local program, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at Nelson County High School.