GALLERY: Shellhouse crowned 2023 Distinguished Young Woman of Covington County

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Andalusia High School rising senior Grace Shellhouse was crowned as the 2023 Distinguished Young Woman of Covington County on Saturday, July 16.

“It is an honor to represent Covington County, and I will not take it for granted,” Shellhouse said. “Two months ago, I was not even going to participate. Distinguished Young Women was never something I had been interested in, and I had never done anything like it before. All throughout my junior year, I had people try to talk me into participating, but I said no every time. After some much-needed positive peer pressure and convincing from my aunt, Mrs. Janna Marsh, and many other role models, I gave in. I never expected it to be as fun as it was. The girls were so sweet, and those friendships are some of the best I have. The DYW board is incredibly supportive, and I wouldn’t want to do it without them. DYW was a blast, and I wouldn’t trade a second of my summer for anything.”

She performed a lyrical dance to Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” for her talent.

“I have danced with Andalusia Ballet for about 11 years. I also play piano and considered doing that for my talent instead. I was always drawn back to dance though. Dance is where I am. I like the feeling of control and structure while you dance. I like speaking to people through the moves. Dance leaves no room for the world’s problems. You have too much to think about in the moment. I love to dance and wanted people to see that love, too.”

According to Shellhouse, she was last minute in preparing for this year’s competition but was grateful to have help from others.

“I honestly didn’t prepare as much as I probably should have. Mrs. Barbara Peek and I have known each other for years, and she is a role model for me in more ways than one. She aided in my interview, self-expression, and Be Your Best Self essay. She also gave me peace and calmed me down telling me everything would be okay. Pamela Keeble from Formally Yours in Dothan redesigned my self-expression dress and talent costume. She gave me confidence when I lacked it and offered prayers and constant support. My family is the most important to me. My brothers were with me through it all. Being the only girl out of six boys makes me the product of some serious protection, but it also makes me a product of what support can do. My dad was always there to calm me down and tell me we were there just doing it to do it. He is my biggest fan, had a huge smile, and was so proud of me not just for winning but for being a light to the world while I participated. My mom was nervous for me but my number one cheerleader. Through all the girls’ trips we had on the way to Dothan for dresses and all the late nights we spent critiquing my talent performance, she supported me. I could have fallen on my face during fitness, and she would still be proud.”

Shellhouse is involved in several activities and looks forward to her senior year.

“Andalusia is a one-of-a-kind place. I couldn’t be more proud of my school. My favorite memories are always Friday nights when I perform with the band. I love the rush of adrenaline before I twirl my flag. I love the fans’ energy and pride we have here. High school is not the peak of my life but only a glimpse of the happiness, joy, and success my future will bring,” she said.

She plans to attend Troy University in the fall of 2023. “I have no clue what exactly I am going to do career-wise because it changes every week. I am taking it one day at a time and trusting that Christ has my life planned for me. My older brother is a student at Troy and my best friend, and I am excited to meet new people and see what God has in store for me.”

Shellhouse called the entire journey a group effort rather than an individual effort.

“Regardless of who got the title, I believe each girl who chose to participate ended up distinguished. Through this program, people have shown me kindness through their smiles, joy through their laughter, love through their hugs, and reassurance and support every single time I lacked confidence. I am a girl here to show the world what joy looks like,” she said.

She is the daughter of Bennie and Mary Ellen Shellhouse of Andalusia.

Other 2023 Covington County DYW award winners are as follows:

  • First Alternate: Catherine Pettie
  • Second Alternate: Tara Ward
  • Third Alternate: Carlin Bates
  • Fourth Alternate: Alice Nelson
  • Rising Star: Brianna Yelder
  • Be Your Best Self Essay: Kayley Peebles and London McClure
  • Spirit of DYW: Gretchen Varner, Lexi Bush, and Tara Ward
  • Fitness: Kaitlyn Beverly and Summer Beverly
  • Self Expression: Grace Shellhouse and Lexi Bush
  • Talent: Alice Nelson and Isabella Kipp
  • Scholastic: Kayley Peebles and Carlin Bates
  • Interview: Alice Nelson and Grace Shellhouse