Nine young women will contend for cash scholarships and other prizes through competition areas of self-expression, fitness, talent, scholastics and a panel interview on Saturday, January 11 at the Petal High School Performing Arts Center.
Participants include Landry Thompson, Maddie McElroy, Raven Graves, Loren Wade, Kitty Grace Berry, Cheyanne Clark, Olivia Draughn, Grace Robbins and Olivia Lewis.
The young woman named Petal’s 2021 Distinguished Young Woman will go on to compete at the state competition to be held in Meridian, followed by a national competition in Alabama, which is the birthplace of the program.
This event is open to the public and tickets can be purchased at the door for $10; admission is free for children 5 years and younger. Proceeds from the event go to scholarship awards.
Founded in 1958 in Mobile, Ala., Distinguished Young Women was formerly known as America’s Junior Miss. It is known as the largest and oldest nationwide scholarship program for high school girls.
1. LANDRY THOMPSON is the daughter of Robert and Sonya Thompson. As a junior at Petal High School, Thompson is an active member of the Petal Innovations and Soundsations show choirs and the Petal Education Foundation Ambassadors Program. She also serves with Forrest General Hospital’s Spirit Girls. Thompson plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi and pursue a career in the medical field in addition to studying abroad. For her talent, Thompson will present a vocal performance.
2. MADDIE MCELROY is the daughter of Shannon Smith and Randy McElroy. A junior at Petal High School, McElroy is actively involved in Soundsations show choir as well as Future Business Leaders of America. She is undecided on where she will attend college, but she plans to pursue a career in prosthetics and orthotics. For her talent, McElroy will present a vocal performance.
3. RAVEN GRAVES is the daughter Ray and Tausha Graves. As a junior at Petal High School, Graves plays the clarinet in the PHS Wind Ensemble and Marching Band. She also serves as a non-commissioned officer in the JROTC Program’s “Panther Battalion” and Drill Team. She plans to attend the University of Mississippi and pursue a career in law. For her talent, McElroy will present an armed exhibition.
4. LOREN WADE is the daughter of Dr. Jason and Kaylee Wade. A Petal High School junior, Wade is passionate about singing and dancing in the Petal High School Soundsations show choir and exploring opportunities in the medical field in the Health Science program. She enjoys serving her community through Petal-Harvey Baptist Church’s LEAD Team and Petal Education Foundation Ambassadors Program. Wade plans to pursue a degree in nursing at a university in the state of Mississippi. For her talent, she will present a piano performance.
5. KITTY GRACE BERRY is the daughter of Laura and Scott Berry. A junior at Sacred Heart Catholic High School, Berry is a varsity athlete on the cheer squad and volleyball team as well as a member of the student council where she serves as Student Body vice president. She is also a five-year member of Forrest General Hospital’s Spirit Girls. Berry plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi and pursue a degree in Elementary Education while participating in the British Studies student-teaching program. For her talent, she will present a jazz dance routine.
6. CHEYANNE CLARK is the daughter of Brian and Jennifer Clark. As a junior at Petal High School, Clark is involved in many clubs such as National Honor Society, and she serves PHS as the Student Body secretary and member of Student Council. She is also an active member of CrossFit Hattiesburg. Clark plans to attend Pearl River Community College after she graduates to pursue an associates degree in the physical therapy assistant program. For her talent, Clark will present a CrossFit lift complex.
7. OLIVIA DRAUGHN is the daughter of Michael and Christy Draughn. As a junior at Petal High School, Draughn is a member of the award-winning Soundsations show choir, the PHS Varsity Volleyball team, and the Petal Education Foundation Ambassadors Program. She plans to attend Mississippi State University and pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering. For her talent, Draughn will present a speed painting demonstration.
8. GRACE ROBBINS is the daughter of Christie and Donnie Robbins. A junior at Petal High School, Robbins is an active member of the award-winning Speech and Debate Team, a competitor with the PHS STEM Team, and a member of the Petal Education Foundation Ambassadors Program, where she takes part in planning the Senior-Senior prom for Bedford Care Center. Robbins plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi followed by medical school in order to pursue a career in pediatrics. For her talent, she will present original spoken word poetry.
9. OLIVIA LEWIS is the daughter of Jaclyn and Ricky Strickland and Aaron and Ashley Bolling. As a junior at Petal High School, Lewis serves as an athletic training aid for the PHS Varsity Football Team and junior class vice president. She is also an active member of the PHS Speech and Debate Team. Lewis plans to attend an in-state college and pursue a career in adolescent psychiatry. For her talent, she will present a vocal performance.