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Community service vital for Lilac Queen Rountree

Thu., Jan. 31, 2013

Brett Rountree cried as she felt the weight of the Lilac queen’s crown.

The Central Valley High School senior said she was surprised to win the coronation Sunday.

The 17-year-old has always aspired to be the girl waving from a float.

“As a little girl, you get caught up in the beautiful gowns and the sashes, the noise and the lights. It’s overwhelming when you’re younger, and as you get older you realize the biggest concepts behind it,” Rountree said.

Community service has always been a priority for Rountree. Locally she has worked with the Salvation Army’s Clothe-A-Child, helping two sisters pick out clothing.

“That’s what community is about – serving and honoring,” she said.

As a high school freshman, she traveled to Ghana on a mission trip to help dig the foundation for an elementary school.

“It was one of those things that I felt really called to going,” Rountree said.

She hopes to return and share her knowledge of math and chemistry. But first, she’ll attend Washington State University where she plans to study chemical engineering. She hopes to go into researching skin care products for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Rountree enjoys the black-and-white art of science – the fine arts haven’t been much of a match for her.

But she’ll have to tap into some creative juices when she and the Lilac princesses sing the national anthem at the State B Basketball tournament in March.

“I’ll be making noises,” she said. At least with chemistry, “there’s a right and wrong answer based on interpretation,” she added.

There will be many events on her calendar, said vice president of royalty Jenifer Eberle.

Rountree and the rest of the Lilac Festival Royal Court – princesses Katie Heitkemper, Devyn Russell, Michelle Tatko, Hailey Hyde, Emily Staker and Savannah Sundseth – are visiting the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Valentine’s Day and appearing in multiple parades, most importantly the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

They’re also headed to Spokane sister city Limerick, Ireland, along with Mayor David Condon, who announced the trip Sunday while the Lilac court was busy getting ready for the big coronation moment.

Along with winning the title, Rountree also received $5,025 in scholarships from the Lilac Festival.

Rountree’s name will join a long list of Lilac queens, who’ve been crowned for 75 years – except during World War II. She’s the fourth winner to hail from Central Valley High School since 1958, the year the festival started keeping records of where the queen went to school.

Sleep was scarce following Sunday’s win, but Rountree marched forward ready for her Lilac duties. One woman jokingly passed her a bottle of aspirin, saying she’d need it while wearing the heavy crown.

And Rountree said the experience of being part of the Fabulous 14 has made the members of the royal court close.

“I love them all to death, and I’m glad six of them are with me,” Rountree said.

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