Strawberry Festival crowns Royalty

MARYSVILLE — The Senior Royalty for this year’s Marysville Strawberry Festival will include not only a queen and a princess, but also a prince.

Marysville Getchell High School junior Erik Kundu and senior Lauren Stallcup each received a scholarship of $3,500 as this year’s Senior Royalty Prince and Princess, respectively, while Getchell junior Louie Vital not only received the $5,000 scholarship as this year’s Senior Royalty Queen, but also received the $500 Bob Klepper Memorial Congeniality Scholarship.

Although the snowfall that had dissipated the day before returned in greater force on Feb. 26, neither audience members nor contestants were deterred from attending the 2011 April Friesner Memorial Royalty Scholarship Pageant that evening in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School auditorium.

While there were only nine Junior Royalty candidates this year, down from the 14 who competed last year, there were 11 Senior Royalty candidates this year, up from the nine who competed last year and the six who competed the year before.

Marysville sixth-graders Kennedy Doty, Sheridan Hedman and Denise Jacobson each received $150 scholarships as this year’s Junior Royalty Princesses. In their self-introductory speeches, Doty expressed an interest in science, because she likes learning why things happen, while aspiring actress Hedman recounted how her brother survived his battle with cancer, and Jacobson showed off her skills as a future fashion designer by wearing a dress she’d designed herself. All three girls cited their ties to the Marysville community and described the role of Junior Royalty Princess as a lifelong dream, one which they each pledged to carry out responsibly.

During the talent portion of the show, Vital performed a scene from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, while Stallcup demonstrated how to dress appropriately for both casual and formal occasions with only a few changes in clothing. Kundu donned zombie face-paint and a single white glove to dance to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” following his speech in which he compared celebrities like Jackson to legislators like former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.

“Entertainment doesn’t have the same value as politics or education,” Kundu said. “And yet, the salary of an NFL player is much higher than that of a teacher.”

Stallcup encouraged everyone to pursue their childhood dreams, many of which she believes can obtained with just a bit of extra effort, while Vital warned against relying too much on the media to define one’s self-image.

“The for belonging is an emotional one, which makes us susceptible to depression,” Vital said. “But we don’t need the media to tell us who we are or who we should be.”

During the impromptu question-and-answer period, Kundu identified cyber-bullying as a new permutation of a pre-existing problem, which he advised responding to in the same way as face-to-face bullying, by building up the self-esteem of bullying victims and discouraging bullies from engaging in their behavior. To lower high school dropout rates, Stallcup suggested reminding students of how difficult the current job market can be even for those who have degrees, while Vital deemed her greatest concern the under-appreciation of the importance of education.

After all three Senior Royals had received their flowers and sashes, with the princess and queen also receiving crowns, they shared their thoughts on the journey that now lies ahead.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Vital said immediately after the pageant, before laughing, “I’d originally planned to go to Hawaii.”

Vital is eager to promote the city and community of Marysville throughout the state, even though she admitted that she’s not thrilled by the prospect of waking up early in the morning. Stallcup admitted to being anxious about traveling so far from home, but she shares Vital’s enthusiasm for representing Marysville.

“I still want to practice my public speaking more,” Stallcup said. “I want to be a role model that other girls can look up to.”

“I look forward to meeting new people,” Kundu said, before laughing, “Being around these girls 24/7 is going to be a bit odd, though.”

Kundu thanked the community for its consistent support of the Strawberry Festival.

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