Angel Harrison, one of the 31 finalists, attends Dallastown Area High school. Her talent is vocal. Here’s the full gallery of all 31 finalists.
Angel Harrison, one of the 31 finalists, attends Dallastown Area High school. Her talent is vocal. Here's the full gallery of all 31 finalists.

The finalists in this year's Distinguished Young Women of York County competition have many talents, from playing the flute to Irish dancing to computer engineering.

But there are elements of the 49th annual program that can be terrifying: like speaking in front of 1,200 people.

"A lot of times it involves some things that are maybe out of the box for them," said Lyn Bergdoll, the program's chairwoman. "But we rehearse, and they find that they can do it. To do something you've never done before is very empowering."

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, the finalists will take their talents to the stage at Central York High School, which is always full for the occasion, she said. Here's a photo gallery featuring the finalists.

They will compete for more than $40,000 in scholarship and award money — far more money than other local and state programs offer, Bergdoll said.

The program: Distinguished Young Women, known as Junior Miss until three years ago, is a national and local competition that recognizes high school juniors for their academic accomplishments, leadership and community service, Bergdoll said.

The York County program usually brings about 28 finalists to the stage. This year, 31 girls made the cut out of an applicant pool about twice as big, she said.

"It's an exceptional group. It's a very talented group; the level of the talents is very, very high," Bergdoll said.

During the competition, a panel of judges interviews the girls and reviews their academic records, accounting for 45 percent of the contestants' scores.

The young women then compete on stage in fitness, talent and self-expression categories, which comprise 55 percent of their overall scores. The winner will go on to compete in Distinguished Young Women's Pennsylvania competition in August.

Preparing for life: These are the students who are at the head of their class and busy with all kinds of extracurricular activities, Bergdoll said.

"People will be really impressed when they see them perform," she said.

They've been rehearsing for the past six weeks, practicing their routines and going through mock interviews, she said.

The experience helps build confidence and prepare students for their journeys through college and beyond, Bergdoll said.

"Our goal is to give all the gals in our program a life-changing experience," Bergdoll said.

Last year, baton twirler Caitlin Reeser won the York County competition. The Central York High School senior went on to place as first runner-up in the Pennsylvania competition.

In the two years prior, York had two winners in state competition, Bergdoll said.

"Our girls always do extremely well at states," she said. "When we have this caliber at the local level, you know you're going to have a really strong representative."

But the program's goal is more than that, Bergdoll said.

"Our goal is not to get a state winner," she said. "Our goal is to give these 31 girls the best possible experience we can."


Contestants:

Central York High School

Hannah Marie English

Dallastown Area High School

Emily Marie Anderson

Angel Harrison

Sarah Rose Lytle

Cheyenne Mikyong Philson

Audrey Lauren Rogers

Alexandra Jessica Skouras

Vanessa Marie Trauger

Dover Area High School

Elizabeth Ruth Cook

Emily Christine Yinger

Eastern York High School

Olivia Ann Painter

Haley Lynn Young

Kennard-Dale High School

Rhianna Eve Davis

Northeastern High School

Rachel Margaret Orndorf

Red Lion Area Senior High School

Kelsey Anne Horn

Brittany Lee Mancha

Spring Grove Area High School

Leanne Katherine Marie Bahn

Maria Yi Hildebrand

Sarah Hoffman

West York Area High School

Camille Kaye Hoover

Alexis Miller

Holly Amber Parr

Jordann Elizabeth Smith-Kingston

Monica Toren

William Penn Senior High School

Karina Lisseth Ortiz-Gomez

York Catholic High School

Madelyn Regina Devlin

Jennifer Ashley Gingerich

York County School of Technology

Shani Nathifa Thomas

York Suburban Senior High School

Leah Nicole Deroche

Alison Liu

Julianna Elizabeth Kates

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.