Katherine Dossett dances at the Pioneers Home March, 20, 2015.

Anchorage teen Marie  Nakada will represent Alaska at the Distinguished Young Women scholarship competition June 25-27 in Alabama.  Alaska’s statewide competition is held every year in Ketchikan.

Alaska’s Distinguished Young Women regional competition gave away $7,000 in college scholarships. The big event was on a Saturday, but the nine girls competing were kept busy throughout the week.

Among other things, the girls went zip lining, kayaking, toured the Vigor Alaska shipyard and visited the Pioneers Home.

One facet of the competition is performing a talent of their choice in 90 seconds. Bob McClory, Ketchikan High school counselor and regional DYW organizer, said the time limit provides enough to show off talent without turning the competition into a talent show.

“Anybody can do 90 seconds. For some people that’s a text message. They’re (DYW) really trying to make it possible for people who may not feel strong in all the different elements to participate and feel they have a good chance.”


Maire Nakada Irish dances at the Pioneers Home March 20, 2015.

The girls put on a preview of their talents one afternoon for about 30 Pioneers Home
residents. The elders watched tap, Thai, ballet and Irish dance, a magician, a color guard rifle spinner, and heard singing and violin.

Activities Director for the Pioneers Home, Hillary Koch, said the girls have been coming for many years and the residents love them. “ Mary was pretty excited, and I could tell. We are quiet responders, but they know good talent when they see it.”


Ella “Houdini” Sherrill at the Pioneers Home March 20, 2015.

The girls performing at first worried that their audiences’ silence was disapproving, but the crowd’s smiles said otherwise.

The girls dropped in during the Pioneers Home’s weekly ice cream social,so after showing off their talents, the girls scooped ice cream and sat to chat.

The girls were able to do some community service while getting a little extra practice before the big night.

They had a tight schedule to keep, so within the hour they had gathered their ballet slippers and wooden rifles and packed into a van headed to the next activity. Both Koch and McClory expect a new group of girls with new talents back next spring.