Some of Washington's brightest and most talented young women gathered Saturday night at Backus Junior High School to compete in D.C.'s Junior Miss Pageant. It was the first time in 20 years that D.C. hosted the pageant, which awards college scholarships and gives the winner a free trip to the national contest.

Adrienne Slaughter, a 17-year-old senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, was named the year's D.C. Junior Miss. Slaughter said she walked into her counselor's office at Woodrow Wilson High School a few months ago and asked for an application for a college scholarship -- but was handed a pageant application.

At first, she said she didn't think it would be worth the time to fill out the application. But she has sinced changed her mind after winning the contest's top scholarship award of $500 and a free trip to Mobile, Ala., in June to compete in the nationally televised finals there.

"This is something I decided to do on the spur of the moment; and I applied on deadline. I'm still shocked," Slaughter said.

The contestants are rated according to creative and performing art talent, scholastic achievement, fitness, poise and appearance and their responses during an interview with a panel of judges. The judges included local university presidents corporate officals and representatives of other private institutions. The Downtown Jaycess coordinated the event that attracted about 250 people.

Slaughter and 12 other seniors from D.C. public high schools participated in the pageant. According to a spokesman for the national office of America's Junior Miss Pageant, the content had not been held in D.C. since 1960 because girls living in D.C. previously competed in the Maryland Junior Miss program. The pageant was held in Maryland because, the spokesman said, a group could not be found to coordinate it for the D.C., the spokesman said.

Representatives for the national office visited the Downtown Jaycees last year and encouraged the group to organize a D.C. pageant so more D.C. girls could participate. Nationally, the Jaycees coordinate about 70 percent of all Junior Miss pageants, which are held in all 50 states.

Slaughter, who enjoys photography and has played the cello in the D.C. Youth Symphony Orchestra for five years, plans to study either music or broadcast journalism at DuPauw University in Indiana or Spelman College in Georgia. She also enjoys swimming, track and field hockey.

A D.C. native, Slaughter lives in Northwest with her mother, Geraldine, a music teacher at Coolidge High School; her father Adolph, director of information at the D.C. Department of Employment Services; and her youngest sister Gerri, a junior at Wilson.

The first through fourth runners-up were: Judith Williams, 16 of McKinley Tech High School; Tracy Benoit, 17, of McKinley Tech; Stephanie Durant, 18, of McKinley Tech, and Princess Graves, 17, of Wilson.