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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

New Distinguished Young Woman

Kristen McGuire shines in tough competition


March 21, 2019 | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

DYW Kristen McGuire surrounded by her court, Fourth Alternate Isis Brownlow, Second Alternate Clarissa Vander Poel, First Alternate Aaliyah Chavolla and Third Alternate Kaelah Perez.

Kristen McGuire was named the new Distinguished Young Woman of Shafter and will represent the city in the state competition in July.

Last year's DYW Karly Cleveland handed over the title on Friday night at Shafter High's Fred Starrh Theater, ending a reign that saw Cleveland serve the city at ribbon cuttings, special events and parades.

McGuire became the first winner in over 10 years to win the title without capturing any of the individual phases of the competition. McGuire performed well overall in the categories to outpoint the runners-up who took home the different phase titles. The First Alternate was Aaliyah Chavolla, while Clarissa Vander Poel was named Second Alternate. The Third Alternate was Kaelah Perez and Isis Brownlow was the Fourth Alternate. For her win, McGuire took home a $2,000 scholarship and the title, giving her the opportunity to compete for the state title to be held at the Dore Theater in Bakersfield this summer.

Kristen is the daughter of Mark and Susan McGuire and was sponsored by Richland Chevrolet. She tap danced to the tune of "All That Jazz" for her talent.

The evening was emceed again this year by Debbie Powell, who was the DYW of Shafter in 1980, and Randy Toews. Powell and Toews introduced the contestants and the first phase of the evening's competition began, a physical fitness routine. The event tested the girls' endurance, agility and overall fitness with a five-minute routine that challenged the contestants' abilities.

The Physical Fitness portion of the evening was won by Kaelah Perez. Fifty percent of the judging was done before the evening event started, with the Scholastic portion and the judges' interview taking place earlier in the day.

The Scholastic winner was Clarissa Vander Poel. The Scholastic judge looked at the contestants' transcripts and college entrance exam scores, including SATs. Vander Poel won a $200 scholarship for the achievement.

One of the most challenging and nerve-wracking portions of the evening is the Talent phase. Each contestant has 90 seconds to display their talents for the judges. There were a variety of performances as contestants played instruments, performed monologues, sang and performed color guard routines in the Talent portion of the night. Kaelah Perez took home the Talent title with a performance of "Solfeggietto" on the piano.

The final phase of the judging for the evening was the Self Expression phase. This allows the participants to display their poise, grace, public speaking and self expression under pressure. Each participant walked the stage, danced with their escort and answered the question, "What is your passion and why?" Aaliyah Chavolla won the Self Expression phase. When asked her passion, Aaliyah said, "Running is a passion of mine. People ask me how I can run for fun, I just tell them that I love the feeling I get when I finish a race."

One award that is voted on by the girls themselves is the Spirit Award. This award goes to the contestant who best epitomizes the spirit of the event. This award went to Stephanie Ledezma, along with a $200 scholarship.

During intermission and before the event began, the audience was entertained by Mr. Martinez and his Richland Junior High Jazz Band.

Jamie Stewart | the Shafter Press

A routine was performed for the Physical Fitness portion of the competition.

The Distinguished Young Woman program is one of the oldest and largest scholarship programs for high school girls in the nation. Last year, close to $1 billion was given away in scholarships nationwide for high school juniors. In addition to the scholarship money, the program also gives the young ladies a chance to prepare themselves for life after high school, with their life skills program that helps the girls with public speaking, building self confidence, self-esteem and leadership.

With the title in hand, McGuire will now begin her reign for the next year as Shafter's DYW. She will serve the city in various ways, including in parades, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and special events throughout the year. She will also spend a week in Bakersfield staying with a host family as she competes with over 100 girls from throughout the state of California, vying for a spot in the national competition held in Mobile, Ala.


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