Program names Distinguished Young Women for 2022

The annual Northwest Alabama Distinguished Young Women scholarship program took place Saturday at Norton Auditorium on the campus of the University of North Alabama. The theme for this year was “Rise Up.”

Among five participants from Franklin County, Russellville’s Madeline Cooper is the 2022 FC Distinguished Young Woman.

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” said Cooper, a Russellville High School student and daughter of Matt and Greta Cooper. “I can’t wait to represent Franklin County at the state competition.”

The annual event is part of a national scholarship program open to high school juniors. “It promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent,” explained local program co-chair Katernia Cole-Coffey. Susan Hargett shares the co-chair role.

Competing along with Cooper for Franklin County were Gracie Davis, daughter of Mitch and Marie Davis, from Red Bay High School; Sophie Hill daughter of Tara and Eric Hill, from Russellville High School; Madelynn Green, daughter of Kris and Dianna Green, of Russellville High School; and Victoria Tiffin, daughter of Jennifer and Brian Pace and Jason Tiffin, of Russellville High School.

Hill won first alternate, and second alternate went to Victoria Tiffin. Hill also won the self-expression category, and Tiffin won the fitness and talent categories. Madelynn Green won the scholastics category. In addition to being named 2022 DYW, Cooper won the Spirit of Distinguished Young Women award.

The girls were scored based on their scholastics, 25 percent; interview, 25 percent, talent, 25 percent, fitness, 15 percent, and self-expression, 15 percent.

For their talents, Davis played “Amazing Grace” on the flute, and Cooper performed a vocal/musical theatre rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” Hill presented a musical theatre/dance performance of “Hopelessly Devoted to You/You’re the One I Want” remix. Madelynn Green memorized and recited “Nations of the World.” Victoria Rose Tiffin performed an aero jazz dance and tumbling routine to “My Boyfriend’s Back.”

“The contestants were all very impressive,” said co-chair Susan Hargett.

Franklin County’s 2021 Distinguished Young Woman, Lily Pounders, a graduate of Russellville High School, also had a role in the program.

“Participating in the program this year gave me a completely different viewpoint,” said Pounders. “I was able to pour into all of the contestants, encouraging them throughout the entire week. I am filled with joy after seeing how they have all grown this past week.

“It was such a blessing to come back one last time and be a part of such an amazing program. I will forever be grateful for my time as Franklin County’s Distinguished Young Woman.”

Pounders had the following words for Cooper, as the newest DYW: “Make sure to enjoy every moment of representing Franklin County, never forgetting that you are in this position for a reason far greater than yourself. I am more than confident that you will represent so well and am so extremely proud of the young woman you are.”

Greg Branham, Barry G. Kelly, Renee George Kelly, Dr. Rachel Real Poovey and Brittany Pruitt served as judges. Nicole Henderson serves as judges chair. Bishop Alexander and Caitlin Holland were the emcees.

While Distinguished Young Women is for high school seniors, “Little Sisters” allows high school juniors to also participate.

The Northwest Alabama Distinguished Young Women Scholarship Program raises money to help provide young women with the opportunity to further their education. Community volunteers work to help make the program possible.

For more information about being involved as a participant or volunteer in the program, visit the local website, franklin.al.distinguishedyw.org.

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