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Celtic pair takes home ‘distinguished’ medals

Elizabeth Russell and Sydney Martindale were named co-Distinguished Young Women of Keizer during the annual scholarship program Saturday, May 14. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Elizabeth Russell and Sydney Martindale were named co-Distinguished Young Women of Keizer during the annual scholarship program Saturday, May 14. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A last-minute donation to the Distinguished Young Women of Keizer (DYWK) made for an unexpected surprise during the scholarship program Saturday, May 14.

Instead of one winner, there were two $1,500 scholarships to be given out. The recipients were Sydney Martindale and Elizabeth Russell, who will go on to represent Keizer in the statewide program in August.

Martindale said she was much more nervous than she expected as the names were announced.

“It was scary, but it was a rush of relief when they called my name. I did the best I could possibly do tonight and it all paid off,” she said.

Russell had lowered her own expectations before the winners were announced.

“I thought I did awful and I’d messed up on everything, but then they called my name and I was so surprised,” Russell said.

In addition to the grand prizes, Martindale won the fitness portion of the program, which came with a $300 scholarship. Russell won the Self-expression Award, which also came with a $300 scholarship.

Despite dancing for the talent portion of the competition, Martindale said the fitness routine was the hardest part of the program.

“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. It’s so much cardio and jogging in place, and I am not a runner,” she said.

Russell, who performed a piano solo for her talent, said that was the most stressful. Russell’s mother competed in the Junior Miss program (the precursor to DYWK) in high school and said that was her inspiration for giving it a shot.

“Even as a kid, I would look at her pictures in her scrapbooks and she looked like such a princess. I wanted to be like her, and being able to be part of this has been amazing,” she said.

For both distinguished young women, one of the real prizes was simply getting to know schoolmates on a deeper level.

“I’ve known these girls for so long, but I hadn’t gotten to know them. I definitely didn’t realize how much I would love them,” Russell said.

Martindale added, “They have a special place in my heart and I will always remember them. We’ve become so close, and I will cherish our memories together forever.”

Madi Zuro was named first alternate in the competition and won the talent portion for a combined total of $800 in scholarships. Rebecca Amerino won the $300 Scholarship Award. Cambrian Partridge won the $300 Spirit Award.