Marysville Strawberry Festival Royalty Pageant set for March 14

Strawberry Festival Royalty - Kirk Boxleitner
Strawberry Festival Royalty
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The seven Marysville Strawberry Festival Royalty Candidates have been put through their paces in preparation for the Strawberry Festival’s April Friesner Memorial Royalty Scholarship Pageant March 14, beginning at 7 p.m., at the M-PHS auditorium.

Strawberry Festival Coordinator Jodi Hiatt explained that the young women will have participated in 25 judging opportunities prior to the time they reach the pageant itself, where the three judges will take into account input from the community groups before which the royalty candidates have appeared. These groups have included both service clubs and municipal entities.

The young women have become experienced at introducing themselves and summarizing their biographies and accomplishments.

Sara Clayton

Sara Clayton, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, was a representative of Washington state in last year’s Odyssey of the Mind competition, so when the chance came for her to represent the city of Marysville as a junior royalty candidate, she took it.

Clayton has enjoyed meeting new people and developing her public speaking skills, an area she admitted can be difficult for her. She sees the royalty candidacy as a self-confidence builder, and encouraged other young women to take part in it as a means of overcoming shyness.

While it’s a little early for Clayton to have a college picked out, she’s already interested in pursuing sign language as a career. She learned the sign language alphabet in fifth grade and has since recited the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language at a Veterans Day assembly.

Samantha Hall

Samantha “Sami” Hall, a 17-year-old junior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, comes to this competition with experience in dance and talent shows, and was encouraged to try out by her mother.

Hall is currently enrolled in the Everett Community College Running Start program, and hopes to attend a local college to stay close to home. Her interests are diverse enough to include art design, architecture, cabinet-making and woodworking, but she feels they’re all unified by a common impulse.

“I like to build,” Hall said. “I like to make things nice and orderly. Plus, my uncle is an architect.”

Shelby Hintze

Shelby Hintze, a 16-year-old M-PHS junior, has already been involved in school leadership for years, so the young Goodwill Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association saw the pageant as another way to get involved in her local community.

Hintze believes that the competition is helping her to build skills that will help her as an adult. As she and her fellow royalty candidates have attended meetings of the Marysville City Council and School District Board of Directors, she’s been fascinated to learn how such groups conduct their business.

Because of her dual loves of graphic design and writing, Hintze is currently looking at a career in journalism, possibly covering the fashion industry.

Jessica LaPlante

Jessica LaPlante, an 18-year-old senior at Lakewood High School, is a bit of a habitual joiner of different groups and activities, and this year’s pageant proved to be no exception.

In spite of her enthusiasm for participating, LaPlante expressed apprehension about talking about herself, and has worked hard to improve her skills when addressing groups such as the Rotary and the Kiwanis.

LaPlante expects to earn her associate’s degree at Everett Community College and become a substitute teacher, but her ultimate goal is to move to Arizona with her boyfriend and attend Arizona State University, to become a creative writing teacher. She laughed as she explained that Arizona’s hot, dry weather appeals to her.

Erinn McPherson

Erinn McPherson, an 18-year-old senior at the Marysville Arts and Technology School, became a royalty candidate as part of applying for several college scholarships.

Like many of her fellow royalty candidates, McPherson has had to learn how to speak in public to large groups, but she’s been encouraged by the pleasantness of the people she’s met. She’s been able to draw from her experiences both on ASB and as a liaison between students and teachers at her school, which have required her to communicate clearly with a variety of individuals.

McPherson plans on attending South Seattle Community College to study marine biology and the culinary and performing arts, all at once. To her, this makes sense, since she loves cooking, acting and being in the water.

Azzlinn Morales

Azzlinn Morales, a 17-year-old M-PHS senior, was encouraged to become a royalty candidate by friends who had competed in previous years, and she hasn’t regretted it.

While some of her peers specialize in dance, Morales brings her talent with the piano to the competition. She encouraged future royalty candidates to consider early on what talents they might want to spotlight, in order to distinguish themselves from their peers.

Morales has been accepted at Brigham Young University and will follow in her grandmother’s footsteps by becoming a nurse. She looks forward to learning more about the human body, as well as helping others heal, something that she already strives to do by volunteering for the poor and the homeless.

Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas, a 17-year-old M-PHS junior, is also attending Everett Community College through the Running Start program, and is also planning to attend Brigham Young University. She expects to major in psychology.

Thomas is a varsity cheerleader, a gymnast and a piano-player, who’s followed the pageant her whole life and was eager to take part in it this year.

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