Tye continuing with Distinguished Young Woman

Thirty-five years ago, Terri Tye started as a participant in Clark County’s Junior Miss program.

She’s hardly left the program, now called Distinguished Young Woman, volunteering in small ways to coordinating the judges for the program for many years.

Tye, a counselor at Shearer Elementary, is one of several committee members preparing for Saturday’s competition, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the George Rogers Clark High School auditorium.

Winchester Sun: How did you get started with Distinguished Young Woman?

Terri Tye: Distinguished Young Woman used to be Junior Miss. I was in the Junior Miss program way back in 1984. I really loved the program and just got a lot out of it myself as a young, rising senior girl. After college, I was asked to do a few small volunteer things. Eventually, I was asked to be judges chairperson and have stayed there.

WS: How are the girls chosen to participate?

TT: Any young lady who is in our county, if they are going into their senior year, they can participate. They have to a minimum requirement of grade point average, but anyone who lives in Clark County. That means if they go to our high school, if they live here but go to school in another county or are home schooled, they can participate.

WS: Why have you stayed involved with the program?

TT: I like the program because it doesn’t just look at one factor. It’s not a beauty pageant. It looks at the all-around person. It provides great scholarship opportunities. I personally getting to know the young ladies and finding out all their hopes and dreams and aspirations. It makes me feel good about the future of our teenagers. We hear so many negative stories, but these young ladies are off to do big things. I enjoy meeting them each year.

WS: There are 14 girls this year. Is that a large group?

TT: The last few years have been a little bit smaller. Usually we average somewhere in the mid-teens. Back in the day, we usually had in the 20s. I think there were 24 when I did it. We have to compete a lot of other things. We try to be very flexible, and we try to do this in a small amount of time so they can fit it into their schedule. Fourteen is a good number.

WS: When do you start working on the program each year?

TT: We have an orientation toward the end of school to let them know what’s going to be expected and what’s coming. We had a pool party this year, and then we started working on their fitness and their interviews. We had mock interviews Sunday to prepare them for the interview portion. We pretty much have it down to a week and a half for practice.

WS: What are your responsibilities as judges chairperson?

TT: I am responsible to get qualified judges that are not from Clark County or Winchester to come Then we get all the information from the girls, we make a book and we send it to the judges. When they come on Saturday, we will have interviews scheduled. I’ve been working with the girls on the interview. That’s a big deal when you’ve not had a panel interview before. It’s different than one-on-one. We have six judges this year. Then we entertain and host these out-of town judges all day. That night at the program, Mike Caudill is our CPA. We do all the scoring and put it in the computer, and he double checks to make sure its correct. I mainly work with the judges and trying to prepare the girls for the interview and on-stage speaking parts.

WS: Have you judged as well?

TT: I judge a lot of local programs around the state. The judges coming are involved in other programs around the state. They know what to look for and they know the program as well. We are kid of picky. We try to pick people I know are going to be respectful and ask good questions. Every now and then, you’ll find a person you don’t want to have back.

WS: What does Junior Miss and Distinguished Young Woman mean to you?

TT: I truly do love the program. It was a very good opportunity for myself. Many years later, my daughter was able to participate. She actually won the program in 2013. That year I didn’t get to work with the program obviously, but we got to experience going to the state program in Lexington. That’s on another level. It was a wonderful opportunity for my daughter, which made me want to be involved even more. I just love the program because it emphasizes a well rounded person, scholastics, fitness and interview, and being able to speak on stage. I don’t think there are a lot of programs that try to help girls in those areas. I love building relationships and being invited to their graduation parties and their weddings.