January 31, 2011 in City

Mead High teen crowned 2011 Lilac Festival queen

By The Spokesman-Review
 
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

MacKenzie Johnson, center, of Mead High School, is announced as the 2011 Spokane Lilac Festival queen on Sunday at the Spokane Masonic Center. Members of her court include, from left; Courtney Vander Linden, Mt. Spokane; Katherine Verkovod, Cheney; and Chloe Dugger, Ferris.
(Full-size photo)

Royal court

Queen: MacKenzie Johnson, Mead

Princesses: Amanda Cash, Lewis and Clark; Katherine Verkovod, Cheney; Courtney Vander Linden, Mt. Spokane; Chloe Dugger, Ferris; Sydne Alegria, North Central; and Christa Gentili, the Oaks.

For the first time in 42 years, the Spokane Lilac Festival Association’s Queen hails from Mead High School.

MacKenzie Johnson, 17, a senior at Mead, won the crown after a weekend of interviews, culminating with the Royal Court Coronation Ceremony Sunday at the Spokane Masonic Center.

She is joined by newly minted princesses Amanda Cash, Lewis and Clark; Katherine Verkovod, Cheney; Courtney Vander Linden, Mt. Spokane; Chloe Dugger, Ferris; Sydne Alegria, North Central; and Christa Gentili, the Oaks.

Each princess won a $1,500 scholarship, and Johnson received another $1,500 scholarship for being the queen.

After receiving her crown and purple cloak, Johnson thanked the seven “Spring Free” ladies who did not make the court.

“We’ll never forget you girls,” she said.

The “Spring Free” ladies included Kaleigh Fox, Central Valley; Brianna Bogart, Valley Christian; Rayanne Shears, Shadle; Porscha Smith, University; Katie Mandler, Gonzaga Prep; Sammi Williams, Medical Lake; and Kaysha Lybecker, Rogers.

Johnson also addressed her new court.

“To the six of you, here we go,” she said.

The court was chosen after each of the 14 teens gave a speech with the theme, “It Only Takes a Spark.” The theme of the speeches goes with the festival’s “Ignite the Spirit of America” theme.

Johnson paid tribute to a teacher at her school who organizes leadership camps for students at Mead.

She said students who attended these camps were “judged by their personality, not by the stereotype.” Instead of hiding behind their labels of jocks or class clowns, the students had a chance to find their passion in life, such as music or academics.

Other scholarships the ladies had a chance to win included the Family Night Scholarship, won by Gentili; Academic Excellence, won by Johnson; Community Service, won by Fox; Communication, won by Williams; Inspiration, won by Smith; the Blossom, or most improved, won by Williams; and the Spirit of Lilac Scholarship, won by Verkovod.

The ceremony kicks off a year of appearances throughout the Northwest, including the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade May 21.

The last time the Lilac Queen came from Mead High School was in 1969, when Judy (Swanson) George won the crown.

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