'Positive environment': Dallastown teen finds confidence, friendships in scholarship program

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Paige Langmead entered high school with little confidence and a shy demeanor around others.

This fall, she'll enter Dallastown Area High School with her head held high, being her most genuine self. It was a long road to gaining that confidence — and being part of the 2022 Distinguished Young Women of York County program certainly helped, Langmead said.

This past Sunday, Langmead was awarded the top honor of Distinguished Young Women, representing the York chapter for an entire calendar year.

Though the scholarship program has a friendly competitive edge to it, Langmead said the friendships she made and the skills she learned are what made the program special.

Dallastown Area High School junior Paige Langmead was selected as the 2022 Distinguished Young Women of York County. Photo courtesy of Paige Langmead.

"I was really able to become friends with all of the girls. And I definitely made it a point to not go into that program isolating anybody or only sticking to a certain amount of people," Langmead said. "I really tried to talk to everyone and get to know everybody."

As part of Distinguished Young Women, Langmead won $12,000 in scholarship money. She is among more than a dozen other girls who won money in each of the event categories — totaling $40,000.

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The program, based around the philosophy of “Be Your Best Self,” requires high school juniors to compete in four categories: fitness, talent, self expression and an interview.

In the competition, each girl completed an interview with the Distinguished Young Women judges. Questions were based around online profiles that each contestant was required to fill out prior to the event.

Distinguished Young Women will be held at 2:30 p.m. on May 29 at The Pullo Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave. Photos courtesy of Lyn Bergdoll.

The fitness portion brought all girls on stage to learn a choreographed routine involving exercise movements. Lastly, the self expression portion involved public speaking.

In this year's event, Ava Markel of Dallastown Area High School was first runner-up and Quinn Starrett of Red Land Area High School was second runner-up.

Leading up to the competition, all participating girls were required to attend rehearsals. 

Going into it, Langmead said, she felt nervous and was worried the other girls might be competitive.

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She found it was exactly the opposite.

Before and after practices the girls involved in the program would get together to grab breakfast or eat ice cream, Langmead said.

"I went home every night just with the biggest smile on my face," Langmead said. "It was a really positive environment, which is something I wasn't anticipating because it is a competition."

As part of applying for Distinguished Young Women, girls who enter must demonstrate leadership in the community they serve.

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For Langmead, that manifested in the form of several school activities.

She's currently the president of her Dallastown High class, a student council representative, co-vice president of the Spanish club, vice president of the One Love club and vice president of Dallastown's National Honor Society chapter.

Distinguished Young Women is one of the best things York County has right now for young women, Langmead said.

"There's not a lot of safe spaces for young girls to support each other — especially in high school," she added. "And there's so much drama and school can be hard for girls. Having that space where we can all be together in such a positive environment was really special."

Applications for 2023's program is open. Any student can apply by visiting http://york.pa.distinguishedyw.org/.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.