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Rachel Stewart Wins Class of 2013 PHS Distinguished Young Women Program


The 2012 Portage High School Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Competition was held on Saturday night as 29 of the school’s most distinguished junior girls competed for the title of Class of 2013 DYW.  In the end, Class of 2012 DYW Kacie McGuire handed off the honor to this year’s winner, Rachel Stewart.

Stewart has been an active member of Portage High School’s theatre department since transferring to the school her sophomore year.  She took the female lead in this year’s Spring Musical The Wedding Singer.  She performed a tap-dance routine as her talent during the competition.  Stewart received a $2200 cash scholarship, a medallion, a Josten’s Graduation package, a one-year YMCA Membership, assorted gifts, a Mary Kay Package, the chance to compete at state and the title of PHS Class of 2013 DYW.

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The 29 contestants were judged during three preliminary nights, which took place over the course of the last two weekends.  After Saturday night’s program opened with all 29 young ladies dancing to “Brighter Than the Sun” and walking in the Parade of Contestants, Mistress of Ceremonies Carrie Martin announced the top ten finalists, which actually included 12 competitors because of several ties.  The finalists were Briana Ammeson, Mackenzie Barcelli, Katie Bylak, Lyndsey Cunningham, Emily Evans, Morgan Kilgore, Clarissa Tokash, Evie Tsarnas, Michaela Steinburg, Mackenzie Widener, Tiffany Woloszyn and Stewart.

All 12 fi
nalists performed their fitness, talent and self-expression routines for the crowd on Saturday night.  Talent accounted for 25 percent of the result as did an interview with the judges.  Scholastic achievement was 20 present, while fitness and self-expression accounted for 15 percent each.  This year’s judging panel, which was comprised of four former contestants and three former winners, was made up of Lisa Ford, Nessa Junyaid, Tara Pritchard and Ali Stewart

Sydney Yingst was named the non-finalist talent winner.  She performed a unique talent, reciting a touching poem.  Special performances were given by Erica Gaffney, Crystal Wo
loszyn and Stefanie Nanney, all contestants last year, as well as McGuire accompanied by her father Tim McGuire.

It was an important night for Kacie McGuire as she delivered her goodbye speech to Portage High School a year after winning the DYW program.  McGuire will be featured as the Portage Life in the Spotlight this coming week.

“The experience is nothing without the people,” McGuire said.  “The people make the experience.  Over this past year, I have met so many new people and formed so many relationships that are absolutely priceless.  State was amazing.  It’s such a blessing.”

Portage’s 2012 Outstanding Young Man Marko Pekovic and OYM third runner up Othie Freeny were on hand to help escort and assist the contestants.  Auditorium Director Kevin Giese and principal Caren Swickard also aided Carrie Martin in making the event possible.  Troy Williams, Charity Kehoe and Kirsten Joyce served as tabulators. 

Swickard delivered her annual comments about the group of young women competing in the program.

“It is obvious that they are doing an excellent job of making positive achievements and personal objectives in their lives,” she said.  “They are all very committed within the school and the community.”

Swickard read a long list of the clubs and activities that the young women that were on the PHS stage on Saturday night participate in, showing how active they are and how well they represent their school.

The evening concluded with the presentation of awards.  The Hanley Award, named after the couple that was instrumental in bringing the Distinguished Young Women (then Junior Miss) program to PHS 32 years ago, went to a non-finalist who was respectful, cheerful and dedicated throughout the process.  Emily Jahoda took home this year’s Hanley Award.  The second award presented was established at the 20th anniversary of the program in honor of retired sponsor Joe Stevens.  The Stevens Award was given to Lauren Sanders.  The Spirit of Distinguished Young Woman Award, which was voted on by the contestants, was presented to Mackenzie Barcelli

The fourth finalist of this year’s program was Morgan Kilgore, while Barcelli was named the third finalist.  Tiffany Woloszyn was announced as the second finalist, with Clarissa Tokash checking in as the first finalist to DYW Rachel Stewart.

Click here for a full photo gallery from the event!

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