DYW Preliminaries Begin

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Meridian, Mississippi There was lots of excitement at the Temple Theater on Thursday night for the opening night of the Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi competition.

The program began with Mississippi's Distinguished Young Woman for 2013, Mackenzie Ross, leading the girls in a dance to the song "Titanium" by David Guetta and Sia. Later in the night, half of the 33 contestants were judged on talent and the other half were judged on physical fitness and self expression. Ross says she has enjoyed helping the girls prepare.

"It's been a great week," Ross says. "When the girls came in on Sunday, all 33 of them, they just had smiles on their faces. They were excited to begin the weeks of rehearsals and just everything they knew they were going to get to do. Because all of them had incredible title holders from my class who were able to tell them what this experience is like."

The second round of preliminaries begins at 7:30 Friday night at the Temple Theater. For tickets, just call 601-678-2038.

The contestants are also judged off-stage based on their scholastic achievement and a panel evaluation with the judges before the on-stage program.