For the second year in a row, the Lilac Festival queen hails from Northwest Christian High School.
Hayley Hill, an 18-year-old senior, was selected from a group of 13 young ladies competing for the crown Sunday night at the Spokane Masonic Center.
Chosen to serve in Hill’s royal court as princesses were Myryda Johnson, Medical Lake High School; Jade Heidinger, Ferris High School; Meg Cressey, Gonzaga Preparatory School; Katrina Knizek, Shadle Park High School; Madison Hilpert, Central Valley High School; and Ellen Taylor, Lewis and Clark High School.
Each of the seven girls received a $1,250 scholarship. In addition, Hill received a $1,500 scholarship for being selected queen.
“I had no idea what I was getting into when I started,” Hill told the crowd after receiving her crown and purple cloak.
The six teens who weren’t selected to be on the court – Ciara Mielke of North Central High School, Savanah Atabelo of West Valley High School, Mariah Clark of East Valley High School, Jen Choi of Mead High School, Larae Stotts of Mount Spokane High School and Caitlin Miller of Cheney High School – received flowers and medals for their participation since being selected as candidates in November. The Lilac Festival calls them the “Spring Free” girls, and Hill acknowledged their involvement as she accepted her crown.
“They will be sincerely missed,” she said.
Each candidate gave a two-minute speech on the topic “Freedom” as part of a long weekend of interviews and mock speeches that culminated in Sunday’s coronation ceremony.
Hill spoke about learning to live with crutches last year after an injury to her foot.
“My parents say I was born dancing,” she said during her speech. “Ballet has been my life.” After the injury, she said, she learned not to take for granted many of the things that came easily to her when she wasn’t using crutches, like opening doors and carrying her schoolbooks.
She talked about visiting a Ugandan orphanage with her uncle last year. There, she said, she learned that having her freedom means reaching out to help others without it.
“What will you do with your freedom?” she asked the audience.
Hill received her crown from last year’s queen, Chloe Crittenden, who thanked the princesses who served on the royal court with her during the past year.
“Each of you will always be a queen in my heart,” she said.
There were other scholarships awarded at the ceremony. Choi received the Academic Excellence Scholarship, Knizek received the Community Service Scholarship, Clark received the Communication Scholarship and Miller received the Inspiration Scholarship.
Knizek also received the Blossom Scholarship for making the greatest improvement between her initial candidacy interview scores and her scores Sunday night.
The Spirit of Lilac Scholarship was awarded to Heidinger for being the candidate who most embodied the spirit of the festival.
The new Lilac Court will now have a year of activities and appearances, including the 2010 Armed Forces Torchlight Parade, which will be held May 15 in downtown Spokane.