Hope Belschner, a junior at LOS, was named the 2021 Distinguished Young Woman of Moscow, Idaho this spring. She won awards in each of the five judged categories: scholastic, fitness, self-expression, talent, and interview. Hope and I met in a downtown coffee shop after her local DYW victory to chat about life as a LOS student, dancer, dance teacher, and representing Christ in every aspect of life.
When asked about joining the DYW program, Hope says she was hesitant at first, but she’s really glad she took the leap. She talks about being asked by a panel what the biggest issue in our country was, and excitedly says: “I talked about abortion like eight times! I was able to say: ‘Life is inherently valuable because God made us.’ Afterwards it kept coming back up in later practices and everyone was really nice and supportive and listened to my opinion. It was fun to be able to talk about it even though we have completely different views. Being able to be in fellowship with people who [don’t have] the same belief as you was a really good learning experience for me… I want to do Riverdance and not everyone there is going to be a Christian, and so I need to be able to not compromise my beliefs, but be able to be friends with those people and help them.”
Hope credits her confidence in public speaking to rhetoric and logic classes, as well as being a member of a speech and debate club in her local homeschool co-op. She'll says she'll be put to the test again at the Distinguished Young Women state competition, commenting: “At state you have to answer an on-stage question with no prep, you just draw it out of the bowl. So specifically classical education has helped a lot in the rhetoric aspect. I’m not just learning facts and then moving on, I’m actually trying to apply them to a worldview.”
On top of participating in the DYW program and taking classes, Hope stays busy pursuing her passion: Irish Dance. “The past two years I’ve done the regional competition, and last year I placed 32nd in the region, and last summer I competed at the North American nationals. That would’ve been a lot harder if I was at the brick and mortar school,” she admits. “I had to go up a couple times a week to Spokane to know my steps, be prepared, work out… And this summer I’m going to Dublin to do the Riverdance summer school! It’s a weeklong camp where you learn the choreography from the Riverdance show, and you get to perform onstage with some of the leads… I’m really excited to do that. And then next year when I’m eighteen I can use that camp as an audition to get into a touring cast, either touring the US or the UK.” Being busy with school, dance, and the DYW program doesn’t stop Hope from taking on more: “On top of that I teach locally: I teach a three year old class right now, and I’ll be teaching that next year. I’m just a teacher’s assistant this year. Performance is my favorite thing because you get to bless the audience and it’s just really fun to be on the stage, but also teaching has been a whole different beast.”
Hope will go on to the Idaho Distinguished Young Women state competition in October.
- Darcey Doyle, LOS Administrative Assistant