Triplicate Staff

Debra Wright wasn't a contestant at the recently held Distinguished Young Women ceremony (formerly known as the Junior Miss Pageant), but she did experience her own crowning moment when she was called up onto the stage to be recognized for almost a decade of volunteer work for the national organization's Del Norte County chapter.

"I was completely surprised," said Wright.

After nine years, she is passing the title of chairperson on to another longtime volunteer with the program, Barbara Lopez.

"It's been such an amazing experience to help these young ladies," Wright said. "It's such an honor to be a part of it."

Each contestant is assigned a "mother hen" to help her prepare during the two-and-a-half months leading up to the pageant.

"Everyone gets super close," Wright said. "It takes a whole group to put on such a good show."

As the nine contestants prepared behind the curtain, students from

the Dance Art Studio performed for the packed audience at Crescent Elk

Auditorium at the event April 14.