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Belgreen's Castillo headed to Montgomery for DYW competition

When Belgreen senior Ana Castillo travels to Montgomery later this month, she’ll be representing Franklin County in a prestigious program with a chance to win a college scholarship.

Castillo was selected as the 2017 Franklin County representative for the Distinguished Young Women of Northwest Alabama. Castillo, along with Gracie Jenkins of Muscle Shoals and Anne-Walton Herston of Lauderdale County, will represent northwest Alabama on January 20-21 in the state DYW competition in Montgomery after a busy week of preparation.

“We’ll be practicing and rehearsing on stage all our routines, the fitness portion of the competition, self-expression and talent, as well as our opening number,” Castillo said. “We’ll attend different luncheons and have a chance to speak to elementary school kids, and it provides a time to be together with the other contestants.”

Distinguished Young Women combines the chance to win college scholarships with a program offering young women life-skills training to prepare them for the world after high school. It costs participants nothing to enter. Castillo won the Franklin County competition in August.

Participants take part in workshops to develop interviewing and public speaking skills, showcase their achievements and earn an opportunity to win scholarships. Last year, more than $42,500 was awarded to DYW participants in Alabama.

Castillo’s principal, Myra Frederick, said Franklin County couldn’t have a better representative than Ana.

“She is a great student and a fine young lady,” Frederick said. “I’m thrilled she participated and was double-thrilled when she was chosen to represent Franklin County.”

Castillo, a Spruce Pine resident, is the daughter of Hugo and Maria Isabel Castillo. She plans to attend the University of North Alabama next year and pursue a career in interior design. For her talent portion of the competition, Castillo will do a poem reading of an original piece she wrote, called Like a Girl.

“It’s about that phrase and how it’s used to tear a girl down, and how it should be changed and used to build a girl’s confidence,” Castillo said.

DYW participants are evaluated in the following categories: Scholastics (25 percent), Interview (25 percent), Talent (20 percent), Fitness (15 percent) and Self-Expression (15 percent). All state winners participate in the National Finals to be held this June in Mobile.

The three northwest Alabama recipients were honored at a send-off reception held Saturday at Rhoda P’s Restaurant in Sheffield. Castillo said she’s looking forward to a special week.

“I think it will be great to make new friends, but I’m a little nervous because there will be a lot of people there,” Castillo said. “But I’m glad to be representing Franklin County and our school.”

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