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Marysville Strawberry Festival names Royalty

MARYSVILLE — The 2010 Marysville Strawberry Festival April Friesner Memorial Royalty Scholarship Pageant was packed with so many candidates that only six of the 14 Junior Royalty candidates appeared in the speeches and talent portions of the program, which still left those finalists and nine Senior Royalty candidates sharing the stage of the Marysville-Pilchuck High School auditorium March 20.

In the end, the titles of Junior Royalty were passed on by outgoing Junior Royalty Princess Sara Clayton to Cassy Mead and Cassie Coate of Cedarcrest Middle School, and Piper Holiday of Totem Middle School, while Clayton joined outgoing Senior Royalty Princess Rebecca Thomas and Queen Shelby Hintze in giving flowers, sashes and tiaras to this year’s Senior Royalty Princesses, Haley Otto and Ella Stefoglo, and Queen Kaija Wilcox.

Wilcox will receive a $5,000 scholarship, while Stefoglo and Otto will receive $3,500 each, and all three Junior Royalty Princesses will receive $150 each. Senior Royalty candidate Mackenzie Harrell received the $500 Bob Klepper Memorial Congeniality Scholarship for being the most helpful to her fellow candidates.

Otto, a 17-year-old junior at M-PHS, played “Big Rock Candy Mountain” from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” on the ukulele for her talent, and reiterated her advice of “be yourself” during the question-and-answer period when asked what advice she would give other young women.

“All these TV shows and magazines try to tell you what clothes to wear and how to look,” Otto said. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts, though. You’ve got to love who you are.”

Stefoglo, an 18-year-old senior at Lakewood High School, performed a spinning dance for her talent. She expressed both pride in her American upbringing and concern for her Ukrainian heritage during the question-and-answer period when asked how she would spend $10 million.

“There’s still so much poverty over there,” Stefoglo said. “Here, our refrigerators are all full, but we open them and say, ‘Oh, we have nothing to eat.’ I would want to give the people of the Ukraine opportunities like the ones that I’ve had.”

Wilcox, an 18-year-old senior at M-PHS, sang an Italian aria for her talent, and agreed with Otto that children should be taught to focus more on internal character than external appearances. During the question-and-answer period she also explained her desire to conduct a mentorship program for elementary school students.

After the pageant had wrapped up, the Senior Royalty Court reflected on the experiences they’d gone through and that still lie ahead for them.

“It’s exciting but scary,” Otto said. “I hope I don’t fall off the float. I still have the tags on my dress. I always leave them on until the first time I wash a dress, just in case I still need to return it.”

Stefoglo’s mother Natalia and sister Victoria knew nothing of Ella’s participation in the pageant until they received free tickets to attend.

“We barely see her anyway, with all the volunteer and tutoring work she does,” Natalia Stefoglo said. “She’s a busy girl.”

“I didn’t think she had those kinds of moves,” Victoria Stefoglo said, as her sister Ella laughed about being “a Russian girl doing a Spanish dance.”

Ella Stefoglo feels confident about the year ahead, saying, “I like to shine,” but she takes her newfound role seriously nonetheless.

“I want this to inspire other girls so that they can look at me and say to themselves ‘I can do that too, no matter what,’” Stefoglo said.

Like Stefoglo’s family, Wilcox’s parents, Janet and Wayne, are already accustomed to their daughter leading a busy life.

“She’s fairly independent and takes care of herself,” Janet Wilcox said, while noting that she did help Kaija with some last-minute dress-shopping. “She’s the last of six kids, but none of our other kids have done this before.”

“I’ve made so many good friends during this process,” Kaija Wilcox said. “Now that I’m a role model, I have to be on my best behavior. I’m looking forward to the parades.”

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