January 31, 2010 in City, News

Hayley Hill crowned new Lilac Queen

By The Spokesman-Review

Lilac royalty candidates representing Spokane’s North Side are, from left, Jen Choi of Mead, Larae Stotts of Mt. Spokane, Ciara Mielke of North Central, Hayley Hill of Northwest Christian and Katrina Knizek of Shadle Park.
(Full-size photo)

For the second year in a row, the Lilac Festival Queen hails from Northwest Christian High School.

Hayley Hill, 18, a senior was selected from a group of 13 young ladies all competing for the crown Sunday night at the Spokane Masonic Center.

Chosen to serve in Hill’s royal court as princesses were Myryda Johnson from Medical Lake, Jade Heidinger from Ferris, Meg Cressey from Gonzaga Prep, Katrina Knizek from Shadle Park, Madison Hilpert from Central Valley and Ellen Taylor from Lewis and Clark.

All seven girls received a $1,250 scholarship. Hill also 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 young ladies who weren’t selected to be on the court, Ciara Mielke of North Central, Savanah Atabelo of West Valley, Mariah Clark from East Valley, Jen Choi of Mead, Larae Stotts of Mt. Spokane and Caitlin Miller of Cheney, each received flowers and a medal for their participation since being selected as a candidate last November. The Lilac Festival calls them the ‘Spring Free’ girls and Hill mentioned them 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, mock speeches and the coronation ceremony Sunday.

Hill spoke about learning to live her life 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 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 school books.

She also learned about life in a Ugandan orphanage when she visited there with her uncle last year. She learned that having her freedom means that she should reach out and help others who don’t.

“What will you do with your freedom?” she asked the audience.

Hill received her crown from last year’s queen, Chloe Crittenden, who also thanked the ladies who served on the royal court with her during the last 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 Scholarship, Knizek received the Community Service Scholarship, Clark received the Communications scholarship and Miller received the Inspiration Scholarship.

Knizek also received the Blossom Scholarship for making the most improvements to her scores received when she did her initial interview to become a candidate to 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 seven young ladies selected to be on the 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.

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