Half-century of charm: Jr. Miss program turns 50 next weekend

The past and the present will intersect at Whitehall High School later this month as the local Distinguished Young Women program celebrates its 50th anniversary.

At least 30 former Distinguished Young Women will be on hand to watch as 17 members of the senior class participate in this year’s program, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, inside the high school auditorium.

A reception for former contestants will be held in the cafeteria beginning at 5:30 p.m.

“It will be like a meet and greet for all former contestants,” said Cheryl Putorti, one of several volunteers who help coordinate the event each year.

According to Eileen Rozell, who along with her husband Bob and Francis and Pat Norton, has been involved with the local program since its beginning, more than 600 girls have participated in the program over the years.

“Many of the girls were little sisters and they wait years to do this,” said Putorti. “The program gives the girls confidence and helps with skills later in life.”

Organizers began planning this year’s event last winter and reached out to hundreds of former contestants to invite them to celebrate the milestone.

Karen Gordon has created a display that will feature images from the past 50 years and Rozell has put together a book of all the programs from each year.

Putorti said the support of the community is a big reason why the event continues to thrive.

“It’s a great tribute to the community that it’s been able to support a program like this for 50 years,” she said. “It says a lot about the local businesses that they support this.”

The national program, originally known as Jr. Miss, was launched in1958 in Mobile, Ala. and is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls. More than 700,000 girls have participated in the program.

Participants go through a six-week program, meeting at the school twice a week in preparation for next week’s show.

On the night of the event, a panel of five judges, consisting of former contestants, will evaluate each girl’s abilities in scholastics, an interview, a fitness routine, a talent and self expression.

The interview and scholastic portions of the program are normally determined prior to the event.

Winners in each category will receive scholarships awards, along with the overall Distinguished Young Woman award and the first- and second runners up.

“We give out a minimum of $6,000 each year,” Putorti said.

This year’s participants are: Ariel Ayers, Payton Bessette, Victoria Christian, Madisen Coso, Heather Donovan, Faith Eaton, Megan Lane, Rebecca Lavin, Alexandra Le Clair, Ashley Millett, Paxton Peterson, Brittney Putorti, Jacklyn Raino, Kendra Rocque, Shyla Stafford, Kassi VanGuilder, and Carli Varmette.

Tickets for the show cost $5 and can be purchased at the door the night of the event. A basket party will be held before Saturday’s event at 5:30 p.m.

Putorti said organizers are expecting a full house.

“It should be an exciting night.”



Read more in this week's Times in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Area schools confer with police


By Matthew Saari School administrators throughout Washington County met with local and county law enforcement officials last week in an […]

‘School threat’ teen appears before judge

Granville school

By Krystle S. Morey The 17-year-old Granville High School student who allegedly made “threatening and intimidating statements” to several of […]

Whitehall school’s infrastructure ‘aging’ engineers say


By Matthew Saari Some of the Whitehall Central School buildings dates to its original construction 50 years ago. That concern […]

Hero firemen honored in Hampton

Hampton fire chief Matthew Sears and family

By Matthew Saari For their heroic actions during a February structure fire, two firemen were honored during the Hampton Town […]

North Country Freepress – 03/16/18


Lakes Region Freepress – 03/16/18


Weekender – 03/16/18

Weekender 3_16_18.pdf-web.pdf

Northshire Freepress – 03/16/18


518 Wheels – 03/15/18

518 Wheels 3_16_18.pdf-web.pdf

On the road with the Railroaders


By Matthew Saari With the Whitehall boys’ basketball team facing a lengthy road trip to Plattsburgh, the Times was faced […]

Still no camping for ‘mudboggers’


By Krystle S. Morey As the mudboggers prepare their off-road extreme park for their annual Spring Fling, Granville town officials […]

$34K solar PILOT negotiated


By Matthew Saari After nearly a year of negotiations, the final payment in lieu of taxes may be finalized. Assessor […]