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June 2, 2014

Photo Gallery, Story: Neshannock teen claims Distinguished Young Woman title

NEW CASTLE — 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the film “Mean Girls.”

To Caroline Orrico’s relief, the film depicting high school social cliques couldn’t have been further removed from Distinguished Young Woman.

“We had such a great group of girls,” the Neshannock High School junior said of the scholarship competition that culminated Saturday night at Westminster College’s Orr Auditorium. “I was so nervous at first going in; stick a bunch of teenage girls in a room together, and it could get kind of tense.

“But there was no tension whatsoever. They were truly inspiring people. I think that’s what I’ll remember most, meeting all the girls and seeing how different we all are, but how we come together for one goal.”

Of course, there’s also the fact that Caroline topped a field of 30 contestants to be named Lawrence County’s Distinguished Young Woman for 2015. That’s liable to stick in her memory as well.

Caroline started the day with the required interview, which she said was the part that made her the most nervous. The jitters, though, remained with her until the show started, “then we just kept going. At the end, I was proud of myself. I felt I had done the best I could ever do. I was happy with what I accomplished.”

At that point, it was time to wait for the judges’ decision. After three runners-up were declared and a winner was ready to be proclaimed,, “I’m thinking it could be me, but it also could be anybody up here because everyone deserved it.

“When I heard my contestant number called, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I was in shock. I broke into tears. I was like, ‘I can’t even believe it.’”

Still, there wasn’t much time to bask in the victory. Yesterday, Caroline was up early to prepare for afternoon and evening dance recital performances with the Ludovici Dance Academy at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. She’s been studying ballet for 15 years – she performed a pointe variation from “La Fille Malle Garde” for her Distinguished Young Woman talent segment – while tackling a strenuous academic schedule.

“I manage my time as best as I can,” the daughter of James and Danene Orrico said. “When I come home from school I eat a quick snack, go to dance, then do my homework at night. I have 16 classes a week.

“But I work better under pressure. I don’t like to procrastinate and put off things. When I’m pushed to do my best, I stand up and rise to the challenge.”

Caroline, who claimed the evening’s Scholarship Award in addition to the overall title, hopes to attend Carnegie Mellon University, with a career goal of becoming a doctor. She will represent Lawrence County in the Pennsylvania Distinguished Young Woman event later this summer.

Shenango High’s Carly Danielson , meanwhile, received first runner-up honors, while Arti Anna Ribarevski of Neshannock was second runner-up and the recipient of the Self-Expression and Spirit awards. Mikalyn Lombardo of Union was third runner-up.

Jamie Rafacz of Mohawk claimed the Talent Award – she offered a vocal presentation of  “Think of Me” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of The Opera” — while Callie Ritchie of Laurel and Kessandra Gordon of Mohawk took home the Interview and Fitness awards, respectively.

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