Representing PHS in Junior Miss

Published 9:14 am Friday, August 3, 2012

From left, Savanna Windham, Madelyn Gathings, Meghan Farrell and Kaitlyn Peterson (not pictured) represented Pelham High School in the 2013 Distinguished Young Women Competition. (contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Shelby County Junior Miss is a scholarship competition for rising senior girls. They’re having an informational tea Sunday at North Shelby Library. If you’re interested, see me,” I announced.

I dismissed my classes several days every spring with this announcement. I’m a Shelby County Junior Miss supporter. I convinced my students to participate — which means giving up a bit of summer, working their feminine fannies off and taking the stage one weekend in July.

At last weekend’s competition, PHS had excellent representation for the class of 2013, including Meghan Farrell, Madelyn Gathings, Kaitlyn Peterson and Savanna Windham competing in a field of 21 Shelby County senior girls.

This year the contest is called Distinguished Young Women of Shelby County. Although the name has changed, the contest remains the same. Participants are judged in categories including scholastics, an essay, interview, talent, fitness and self-expression. Shelby County’s fitness is especially intense.

Choreographer Shelley Carruba, a former Houston County Junior Miss, a pharmacist, and my aerobics instructor, said, “We had to shorten our routine. Shelby County’s routines are usually over five minutes long and the state fussed at us.”

The girls sparkled on stage. With PHS girls capturing prizes in almost every category of competition — including the essay — our girls made us proud! They also brought home scholarship money — a great start for their senior year.

“I was able to meet so many great girls,” said Meghan Farrell, a PHS singer and member of the mostly boy band Copper Mountain.

Since her band witnessed her push-ups on stage, Farrell said, “Now the boys think I should help with set up.”

“The best part of the experience was meeting the girls,” Madelyn Gathings said. “These ladies are beautiful from the inside out.”

Spain Park High School’s Susanna Bagwell was named Distinguished Young Woman 2013. She is the younger sister of the 2008 title-holder Haley Bagwell.

As a scholarship-seeker for students, this contest is one of my favorites. Empowering students with alliances beyond PHS, this Shelby County competition fosters friendships that help our seniors look beyond PHS toward their amazing futures.


Connie Nolen can be reached by email at