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Paris teen named 'Distinguished Young Woman'
PARIS — Maggie Mae Whittemore, a senior at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, was recently named a "Distinguished Young Woman of Maine," which is a "tremendous honor" for both Maggie and the school, according to OHCHS Principal Ted Moccia.
"It's a huge deal," Moccia said.
Maggie, of South Paris, daughter of Duffy and Rhonda Whittemore, received recognition and $1,200 in cash scholarships during a statewide scholarship program for high school girls, held February 23 at Lewiston Middle School.
Last year, Distinguished Young Women provided more than $108 million in cash and college scholarship opportunities to program participants at the local, state and national level, according to the program's chairperson, DeAnne Start.
Previously known as America's Junior Miss, the program's mission, as stated in a press release, is to "positively impact the lives of young women by providing a transformative experience that promotes and rewards scholarship, leadership and talent."
According to Moccia, Maggie was one of two high school seniors in Maine who competed to represent the state this year as a Distinguished Young Woman of Maine.
"I don't think I've ever seen her without a smile on her face," Moccia said, of Maggie. "She is one of those kids that makes the school a better place."
Maggie is in the top 10 percent (32 out of 237) of her class, and often plays the lead role as a member of the OHCHS Drama Club, which placed third in the Class A category for one-act plays at the Maine Drama Festival held earlier this month, according to Moccia.
"She is obviously quite talented," Moccia said. She's also involved in the choir. "She's a very talented singer," he added.
Moccia said she's also a very strong student, academically. "She works extremely hard in the classroom and she's well-liked by her peers," Moccia explained.
Maggie said she's been in OHCHS drama all four years of high school and has been taking dance classes since she was three years old. "I tap dance," she said.
She is also the president of a national honor society, she said, and participates in a lot of community service work, including organizing a wellness day for OHCHS, which will focus on awareness of drug abuse and ways to stay healthy.
As a senior about to graduate, Maggie says she's really looking forward to college. Her top choice is Colby College, where she plans to major in psychology and minor in secondary education.
"I want to be a guidance counselor," Maggie said.
Founded in 1958 in Mobile, AL, Distinguished Young Women is the largest and oldest scholarship program offered to high school girls nationwide.
According to Moccia, to participate in the program the students have to undergo an intensive application process.
Throughout the year, Maggie will attend various public events and serve as a role model for young people statewide, spreading the program's message "Be Your Best Self."
The program's five principals: Be Healthy, Be Involved, Be Studious, Be Ambitious and Be Responsible, are designed to encourage self-esteem and excellence in all young people, according to the press release.
Participants were evaluated in the categories of Scholastics (20 percent), Interview (25 percent), Fitness (15 percent), Self-Expression (15 percent) and Talent (25 percent).
"You talk in front of a panel and they ask you different questions, from current events to your personal philosophies," explained Maggie.
Along with 49 other state representatives, Maggie will travel to Mobile to compete in the finals.
But before competing for Distinguished Young Woman of America 2013, Whittemore will participate in community service projects and personal development activities, which she is looking forward to.
"I am really excited," Maggie said. She encourages other girls her age to apply. "You meet new people, and it's a fun way to make scholarship money for college."
"Maggie is a great girl," said Moccia. "She is just a joy to have in the building. She is one of the kindest people I know."
The 56th National Finals will take place on June 27, 28 and 29 in Mobile, AL.
DISTINGUISHED — Maggie Mae Whittemore, of South Paris, participates in the statewide scholarship program, Distinguished Young Women of Maine, at Lewiston Middle School February 23.