Outstanding young women

Twenty-eight high school juniors will compete in the Cambria-Somerset Outstanding Young Woman Scholarship Program at 7 p.m. Saturday at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center in Richland Township.

The Cambria-Somerset Outstanding Young Woman Scholarship Program will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center, 445 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

The scholarship program recognizes and celebrates the talents of area young women.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the program will be held live with a limited number of spectators.

Each finalist was given a small allotment of tickets to be sold to allow for social distancing in the auditorium.

The program will be live-streamed on OYW’s Facebook page for a nominal fee.

The theme is “Olympics.”

Jim Penna will be the master of ceremonies.

This year, 28 high school juniors – 14 from Cambria County and 14 from Somerset County – will compete for scholarship money.

When selecting the program’s winners, the contestants are judged on interviews, performing arts, aerobic fitness and presence and presentation.

“This is a scholarship program where the end result is girls earning scholarship dollars to further their education, but it’s also preparing them for the next step in their lives,” said Kristina Marinkovich, program chairwoman.

“They’re learning personal development, interview skills, how to step out of their element and network with other individuals and how to make friends. They’re coming out of their shell and pushing themselves to the next level.”

The winner from each county will receive a $6,000 scholarship as well as offers from local colleges and universities.

The first runner-up from each county will receive $4,000. Second runners-up will get $2,000.

“We tell the girls to be their authentic selves and let the judges know who they really are,” Marinkovich said.

“They’re looking for well-rounded girls who have a good head on their shoulders, have goals set for themselves and work hard and show up every day.”

Leading up to the program, organizers have been working to keep the girls engaged and prepared for the competition.

“We’ve had guest speakers come in and talk to them about college applications, staying healthy and interview skills,” Marinkovich said.

“At the rehearsals, we taught them their presence and fitness portion of the competition, so we were able to provide them that bonding time that the girls last year may not have received because so much of it was virtual.”

Richland High School’s Carys Appel said being a part of OYW has been amazing.

“I can tell already that I’ve become a lot more confident than I was before,” she said.

“I’m very shy and I’m not good in social situations, but with OYW, I’ve started to open up a little more and talk to more people.”

Appel said the program is helping her to get ahead in life.

“It’s wonderful to have all these girls by my side and use this experience to further myself and use what we’ve learned for the future,” she said.

Appel added that her fellow contestants are kind and welcoming.

“These girls are open and accepting and I can already tell that I’ve made at least one or two new friends,” she said.

Melanie Reither, of Meyersdale Area High School, said she had friends who participated in OYW and the valuable communication and leadership skills they received piqued her interest.

“It seemed like a really great experience,” she said. “I’ve already seen so much growth, and it’s a building program that helps you have confidence in yourself.”

Reither said being a part of OYW has been life-changing.

“I’m in the small town of Meyersdale and usually only meet people from there, so meeting all these girls from Somerset and Cambria counties is amazing and I’m making so many friendships,” she said.

Reither said regardless of the outcome, the skills she’s gained will help her in the future.

“It’s such a good thing, and I’m so excited to go and interview for a job and know that I learned these skills from OYW,” she said.

“It’s helped me to be comfortable in my voice and my actions.”

The following are the Cambria County contestants:

Carys Appel, of Richland High School, daughter of Douglas and Rebecca Appel, will perform a guitar and vocal selection.

Isabella Cadence Blough, of Richland High School, daughter of Jason Blough and Andrea Ferrin, will perform a contemporary dance.

Brenna Elizabeth Fisher, of Bishop McCort Catholic High School, daughter of Jennifer Fisher, will perform a tumbling/hip-hop routine.

Riley Elizabeth Hunter, of Richland High School, daughter of Christopher and Judy Hunter, will perform a jazz dance.

Sarah Huston, of Johnstown Christian School, daughter of John and Jodi Huston, will perform a violin piece.

Elizabeth Ann Kovalchik, of Westmont Hilltop High School, daughter of Vincent and Lisa Kovalchik, performing a lyrical dance.

Camryn Lorence, of Richland High School, daughter of Doug and Letitia Lorence, will present art.

Allison Claire Moriconi, of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, daughter of Brian and Cynthia Moriconi, will perform a contemporary pointe routine.

Malia Prebish, of Penn Cambria High School, daughter of John J. and Lisa M. Prebish, will perform a gymnastics floor routine.

Madeline Mae Ringler, of Richland High School, daughter of Sandra Anderson, will perform a piano selection.

Fontana Angeline Ross, of Conemaugh Valley High School, daughter of J.R. and Melissa Ross, will perform a saxophone solo.

Jessie Anne Shaulis, of Forest Hills High School, daughter of Gerald and Kathy Shaulis, will perform a vocal selection.

Eva Marie Spangler, of Forest Hills High School, daughter of Brian and Amy Spangler, will perform a violin piece.

Jaydyn Paige Vogel, of Greater Johnstown High School, daughter of James and Holly Vogel, will perform a jazz dance.

The following are the Somerset County contestants:

Jacklyn Rae Bloom, of Windber Area High School, daughter of Jeffrey and Sandra Bloom, will perform a lyrical dance.

Heidi Elizabeth Coleman, of Berlin Brothersvalley High School, daughter of Adam and Jenny Coleman, will perform a vocal/ukulele solo.

Mary Lois Hostetter, of Johns-town Christian School, daughter of Clark and Jenny Hostetter, will perform a vocal solo.

Gabrielle Elizabeth Klingenberg, of Windber Area High School, daughter of Scott and Melissa Klingenberg, will perform a gymnastics floor routine.

Abigail Grace McGinnis, of Conemaugh Township High School, daughter of Peter and Crystal McGinnis, will perform a vocal selection.

Taylor Rae Miller, of Conemaugh Township High School, daughter of Christopher and Michelle Miller, will perform a martial arts demonstration.

Tori Sue Mostoller, of North Star High School, daughter of Troy and Tammy Mostoller, will perform a dance routine.

Morgan Marie Rapsky, of Windber Area High School, daughter of Dennis Rapsky and Danielle Primel, will perform a vocal solo.

Melanie Eileen Riether, of Meyersdale Area High School, daughter of David J. and Lisa M. Riether, will perform a tap dance.

Rebecca Slate, of North Star High School, daughter of David and Crystal Slate, will perform a baton routine.

Grace Elizabeth Stasiak, of Windber Area High School, daughter of Adam and Victoria Stasiak, will perform a color guard routine.

Ella Jo Ann Wheeler, of Somerset Area High School, daughter of Christopher and Kami Wheeler, will perform a guitar and vocal piece.

Alexa Witt, homeschooled in Somerset District, daughter of Jason and Chelsea Witt, will perform a gymnastics dance routine.

Adelynn Grace York, of Windber Area High School, daughter of David and Jennifer York, will perform a musical theater performance.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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