Bardstown’s Whitney Representing Georgetown College at Mountain Laurel

belle of the blue sistersAt Georgetown College, the winner of the annual Belle of the Blue scholarship pageant is invited to represent their school at eastern Kentucky’s tradition-rich Mountain Laurel Festival the following year. This weekend, finally, the third of three eligible Bardstown women in the past two years – Whitney Lanway, a runner-up – has that privilege.

Katherine Lanway, Whitney’s older sister, and Kelly Kays both elected other priorities when their turns came. As a Georgetown sophomore, Katherine was co-winner of the Belle of the Blue in February ’05. At reign’s end, she opted to let co-Belle and Kappa Delta sorority sister Mica Wood – then president of the College’s Young Democrats – have that coveted spot. “Mica told me there would be a lot of political networking opportunities for her and since she was getting ready to go to law school, she seemed to be the obvious choice” Katherine said.

As Katherine was relinquishing her crown in February ’06, (freshman) Whitney finished second in that Belle of the Blue. Then this spring, ‘06 Belle Kelly Kays committed to a creative ministries position with Lifeway Camps for the summer before attending the University of Louisville School of Medicine in the fall – giving Whitney a chance to compete in “America’s Best Outdoor Pageant.”

“I’ve talked to Mica (Wood) and the Mountain Laurel is a lot different than Junior Miss – it’s more communication-oriented,” said Whitney, who leaves for Pineville tomorrow (Thursday). “Being able to converse is more important to me now than looking pretty or playing Beethoven. I’m looking forward to meeting new women who have the same goals and values.”

Performing on stage just doesn’t have the same appeal anymore for Whitney, who had the lead in Nelson County High’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” in ’03 and “Anything Goes” in ’05. But, she gives a lot of credit to English and Drama teacher Cindy Ethington for building her confidence. “I was really scared as a sophomore,” said Whitney, who would go on a become Nelson County’s Junior Miss in ’05. “But, she made me believe in myself and gave me the faith to get into my character.”

Whitney says that the best decision of her life was to follow her role model (Katherine) to Georgetown College. “She has been extremely successful in every endeavor and her success has inspired me to reach my full potential,” said Whitney, who is following in her sister’s footsteps as a Kappa Delta leader as well as making every Dean’s List.

Said Katherine, who was KD president for year, “Going to the same high school and now the same college as Whitney just made it easier for me to try and take my sister under my wing, but I have seen very quickly that she does not require my help as often as I thought. Whitney really has a good grasp on reality and who she is in the world, and for this I am very proud of her.”

Whitney, an English and Education double major/Music minor, will have Georgetown College “all to herself” next year. Katherine, who graduated May 12 summa cum laude and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Society, will attend the University of Kentucky’s School of Dentistry this fall. Their brother Robert, 18, is leaning toward joining the U.S. Coast Guard and pursuing a career in law enforcement.

The Lanway sisters both say that their parents, Michael and Lanelle, came to every piano recital, band concert, sporting event or play their three children were ever in. So, it’s with some remorse, said her mother, that Whitney will be without the usual family support for the Mountain Laurel. A previous commitment for another relative’s graduation is taking the Lanways to Georgia. The family of Whitney’s escort, Robbie Weaver, a Georgetown sophomore from Louisville, will have to suffice for friendly faces.

Her mother has no doubt Whitney will thrive without the family, though. “She’s always been able to hold her own in conversations with adults and in interview type situations,” Lanelle said. “She’s so well-versed and well-rounded, she’ll do just fine.”