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Scholarship. Leadership. Talent.

Jurassic Quest: Bonners Ferry's Distinguished Young Women take the stage April 29 By Jillian Chandler | Photo By Northern Heights Photography

Distinguished Young Women

Each spring, since 1966, a group of young women from Bonners Ferry are afforded the opportunity to shine as they receive professional guidance, practice valuable skills and gain one-of-a-kind experiences through an inspiring national program—the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) Scholarship Program.

“The program is open to all high school juniors (homeschooled/alternative schools as well), so any girl in the class of 2024 is welcome to participate,” states Andrakay Pluid, chairman for Distinguished Young Women Bonners Ferry.

Those who choose to be involved in the program, which is free to participate in and only requires that these young women agree to a code of conduct that includes abiding by moral and ethical principles, complete the registration paperwork, and their journey to becoming the year’s Distinguished Young Woman begins.

This year’s Distinguished Young Women participants are: Avery Bayer, Braylyn Bayer, Shanlee Chaffin, Ana Chase, Addy Heigel and Markynn Pluid.

"Jurassic Quest” is the theme for the 2023 program, which will take place at 6:30pm on Saturday, April 29, at the Bonners Ferry High School’s Becker Auditorium. Tickets go on sale the second week of April at Mountain Mike’s Health Food Store in Bonners Ferry. Each year, the DYW program typically awards $12,000 or more in scholarships—funds that are raised entirely from community donations—to be used for any educational pursuit of the participant's choosing.

According to Andrakay, leading up to the April 29 program, the selected participants will be busy practicing three nights per week to learn routines for the on-stage presentation, for which they will be judged in the following categories, with each accounting for a percentage of their overall score: Interview (25 percent), Scholastics (25 percent), Talent (20 percent), Fitness (15 percent) and Self Expression (15 percent).

“The participants will also participate in the Be Your Best Self (BYBS) program, which is the community outreach and service portion of the DYW program,” shares Andrakay, adding that there are five tenets of the BYBS program: Be Healthy, Be Studious, Be Involved, Be Ambitious, and Be Responsible. This nation-wide outreach effort to spread the Be Your Best Self message takes place on a national level prior to the DYW program, April 17 through 21. “Throughout the program, DYW participants will mentor sixth-grade girls from the local middle school, perform community service projects, and spend time learning about the five tenets of BYBS and applying them to their lives.”

For participants, the experience is sure to be life-changing, as they make new friendships, participate in workshops focused on interviewing and public speaking, as well as showcase their achievements. And, of course, have the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship to help pay for their continuing education.

“Programs like DYW are important to help build confidence and teach important life skills and lessons in our youth,” affirms Andrakay. “For example, practicing and learning interview skills is a lifelong skill the participants will utilize. The DYW program, in particular, is excellent at helping young women gain tools to meet their full potential and have fun—all while possibly earning college scholarships.

Save the date—April 29—and don’t miss an evening showcasing the hard work and determination of these six young ladies.

To find out more about Distinguished Young Women, visit

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