Elmore County Distinguished Young Women scholarship award winners were, from left, Tallassee High’s Taylor Goodman (fitness), Tallassee High’s Orliyah Poole (Roberta Pilcher Spirit Award), Tallassee High’s Sally Shipman (scholastic), Elmore County High’s Rhianna Lumpkin (scholastic, talent, first runner-up), Holtville High’s Blakley White (winner, interview, fitness, self-expression), 2019 Elmore County DYW winner Mary Fran Healey, Montgomery Academy’s Virginia Puckett (interview, talent, second runner-up), Elmore County High’s Kaitlyn Pack (Be Your Best Self) and Holtville High’s Kennedy Mullis (self-expression).

While a thunderstorm rattled the building outside, Blakley White showed her poise and character inside on the way to being selected the 2020 Elmore County Distinguished Young Woman on Saturday night.

White, a senior at Holtville, won the interview, fitness and self-expression awards and while clutching all those certificates still appeared delightfully shocked when her name was called as the county winner, throwing her left hand up to her face and smiling before walking across the stage at Wetumpka High School and getting the coveted medallion draped around her neck by 2019 county DYW Mary Fran Healey.

“My sister was a contestant and so was my mom so this has been a fun thing to be a part of,” White said after receiving congratulations from her fellow contestants, family and the audience. “I was so surprised and completely taken off guard because this is a dream of mine. It feels unreal. I was not nervous at all.”

Along with her family’s tradition in DYW, White prepared for her triumphant night by serving as student council president and junior class secretary at Holtville and was also named last year’s Miss Christmas on the Coosa. She felt the interview during the week, which accounted for 25% of her score, put her in position to win.

“The interview, I feel like I rocked it out,” White said. “Everything just went great. I felt like I had a good chance.”

At Holtville, White is also a member of the Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta and the Spanish club, is a Bulldog ambassador and plays varsity soccer. She attends New Home Baptist Church and is the daughter of Robbie and Wendy White.

White plans to attend Troy University and major in elementary education and won $2,350 in scholarship money — $1,600 for being selected as Elmore County’s DYW plus $250 each for the interview, fitness and self-expression categories.

The thunderstorm caused a brief power outage just as Wetumpka High School’s Lauren Wood finished her talent presentation, a jazz dance to “You Make My Dreams (Come True),” but the lights were quickly restored and the program continued without interruption.

Eight young women earned scholarship money in seven categories, including three from Tallassee High School. They are Tallassee’s Taylor Goodman (fitness), Tallassee’s Orliyah Poole (Roberta Pilcher Spirit Award), Tallassee’s Sally Shipman (scholastic), Elmore County High School’s Rhianna Lumpkin (scholastic, talent, first runner-up), White (winner, interview, fitness, self-expression), Montgomery Academy’s Virginia Puckett (interview, talent, second runner-up), Elmore County’s Kaitlyn Pack (Be Your Best Self) and Holtville’s Kennedy Mullis (self-expression).

The criteria are the same at the local, state and national DYW competitions. The interview and scholastics count for 25% apiece, talent 20%, and fitness and self-expression 15% each.

The Distinguished Young Women program, formerly America’s Junior Miss, was founded in 1958 and has its headquarters in Mobile. More than 700,000 women nationwide have participated.

The state DYW competition is scheduled Jan. 17-18, 2020 at Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery. The national program will be held next June in Mobile.

“All the girls, they’re so encouraging and so sweet,” White said. “They’re already talking about coming to watch me at state. The friendships I made this week are definitely a blessing.”