Meridian, Miss. The seats in Meridian's Temple Theater are empty now, but will be packed this weekend as people come from all over the state to watch 33 rising high school seniors compete for the title of Mississippi's Distinguished Young Woman. This week, they are hard at work practicing choreography and rehearsing every aspect of the competition. Choreographer Kelli Croyle says there are several parts to the program.
"Today, starting at 8:00 this morning, we began rehearsals where we will prepare for the opening number, we will prepare for the self expression competition as well as the fitness portion, so what we're doing is basically rehearsing and putting the show together so when it comes time for showtime, we're ready to go."
Unlike programs like Miss Mississippi, each contestant only gets once chance to reach the state finals, so they are all very excited and looking forward to what the week holds. Anna Claire Webb from Winston County says making it here has always been a dream of hers.
"This is something that I've always wanted to do, and seeing every girl go through this program, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this because I just love every part of it."
All of the contestants are very excited to be in Meridian this week, and believe participating in the program will help them in several ways.
Hannah Hampton of Clarke County says, "I'm looking forward to just meeting all of the girls. I feel this program allows for younger girls to look at you as a role model, and I also think that it's a really good way to get college scholarships."
Shows begin at 7:30 both Thursday and Friday, with the finals starting at 8:00 Saturday night.