Berks County Outstanding Young Woman competitors (L-R) Akshara Kumar, Mariah Bankemper, (winner) Jillian Kravatz, and Amanda Hornberger. Image by Lynn Gladieux.
KUTZTOWN -- Of the nineteen senior high girls who stood on the stage of the Kutztown High School auditorium last Saturday night, only one was destined to become the Berks County Outstanding Young Woman of 2013.
At the end of the nearly three-hour competition, that woman was Schuylkill Valley’s Jillian Kravatz, who won $6,500 in cash scholarships and other prizes.
Kravatz also won $300 each for finishing first in the scholarship and achievement, presence and presentation and interview categories.
Kravatz will go on to compete at the state level on Nov. 24 at Gov. Mifflin High School.
First runner-up was Conrad Weiser’s Amanda Hornberger, who won a $2,500 scholarship. Second runner-up was Akshara Kumar from Wilson, winning a $1,500 cash scholarship. Kumar also tied with Alexandra Stoudt of Brandywine for the Keystone Award, an award based on a vote by the contestants that comes with a $300 scholarship.
Third runner-up was Mariah Bankemper of Muhlenberg, who won a $500 scholarship.
Gabriella Santoliquito of Boyertown won the aerobics and fitness category, worth $300. Olivia Damore of Exeter won $300 by capturing the performing arts award.
Each contestant vied for the title through a series of categories, including performing arts, aerobic and fitness, presence and presentation and personal achievement. Five judges scored the contestants, with each category being worth 20% of the total score.
The Berks County Outstanding Young Woman event this year celebrated its 50th anniversary. Started in 1963 by the Jaycees of Hamburg, Kutztown and Fleetwood, the contest, originally named Berks County Junior Miss, has hosted 2,970 preliminary contestants and 996 finalists and has awarded $315,550 in scholarships.
Previous winners and contestants who were in attendance Saturday night were recognized by BCOYW Chairman Norm Adams and master of ceremonies Mike Reinert of WFMZ.
State Senator Judith L. Schwank read a proclamation from the state senate honoring 50 years of BCOYW competition. Adams accepted the proclamation on behalf of BCOYW.
Other participants in Saturday’s event included: Molly Seasholtz, Daniel Boone; Rachel Stahl, Oley Valley; Genevieve Stark, representing home schoolers; Annie Herman, Gov. Mifflin, Louisa Umberger, Hamburg; Sarah Bartra, Twin Valley; Rachel Rock, Kutztown; Aubrey Kohl, Fleetwood; Stephanie Kotula, Wyomissing; Megan Zellers, Tulpehocken; Shannon Coveleski, Berks Catholic; and Kaley Harman, Antietam.