Oakdale High School student Chloe Schoemann was named the 2012 Distinguished Young Woman at the Saturday, Feb. 19 scholarship competition, formerly known as Junior Miss, held at Magnolia School auditorium.
“I’m shocked and very proud of myself. I tried my best and put my all out there,” Schoemann said.
Although the program presented by Soroptimist International of Oakdale (SIO) has had a name change, the spirit of the contest remains the same and the program is run exactly the same way, according to SIO President Suzette Titus, but people will just have to get used to calling it by its new name.
“We had 14 great girls,” Titus said of this year’s event participants.
Laurie Baxter captured second place, Stevie Cordoza was third, Sara Olsen was fourth, and Amy Bolme was fifth.
The Distinguished Young Women program encourages the girls to put their “best self” forward in the categories of Talent (25 percent), Interview (25 percent), Scholastic (20 percent), Fitness (15 percent), and Self Expression (15 percent). Many businesses, organizations and individuals in the community made it possible to award $6,700 in scholarships to participants this year. The scholarship awards were $2,500 for first, $1,000 for second, $800 for third, $600 for fourth, and $400 for fifth, as well as $200 for individual categories.
Schoemann won a number of categories including the Self Expression Award, Talent Award, Interview Award, and Fitness Award. She also won the Spirit Award, which is voted on by fellow contestants. She came home with the winner’s medallion and $3,500 in scholarship money to help her pay for college.
After hearing her name called so many times for winning a category, Schoemann said that at first she was confused, then shocked, then happy and excited, realizing that she was Oakdale’s first “Distinguished Young Woman.”
Titus said that it is not very common for a contestant to win so many categories but the panel of five judges saw it that way. She added that all the judges were from out of the area and none of them knew the girls.
Laurie Baxter won the Scholastic Award and Stevie Cordoza won the Community Service Award.
Titus said that she believes the talent portion and the opening routine are the crowd favorites at the event.
“That’s where the girls really have to show their stuff,” she said.
The young women had several different talents they performed that night. Some sang, while others played the piano or other instruments, danced, or performed monologues. As her talent, Schoemann sang “Listen,” which was performed by Beyoncé in the movie “Dreamgirls.” In preparation for the contest, she said that she learned three or four songs but, vocally, “Listen” was the best one for her.
Schoemann is active in musical theater and is a member of YES Company, and sings in the high school choir and with her church’s youth band. Her dream is to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and major in musical theater. She would like to perform on Broadway someday or have a singing career.
Titus noted the fitness portion is the most challenge aspect of the contest, as it is approximately eight minutes in length. The girls perform together and each also has their own segment of the routine where they are alone in the spotlight.
Schoemann agreed that the most challenging part of the program was learning and performing the routines. She also said that the most rewarding part was becoming closer to all the girls in the group and that they all had a lot of fun.
“We all tried our best,” Schoemann said. “It was amazing how much energy we put into it.”
The girls began preparing for the program in early January, meeting on Saturdays at a dance studio to rehearse the fitness and opening routines, as well as getting together on their own time to practice the routines.
“I want to thank (the Soroptimists) for giving me this opportunity,” Schoemann said. “It was great, I made a lot of friends out of it and it helped me a lot as a person.”
She now must prepare for the state competition, which takes place in Bakersfield at the end of July.
“I’m really excited. I know I’m going to need to prepare myself for this physically and mentally,” she said, adding that she also needs to focus on school right now and have confidence in herself to do well. “As I’m going there, I know I’ll have support from all the girls. I know that they’ll be there for me.”
Schoemann is the daughter of Kevin and Lorna Rupe.