Kaylee Pearson earned the respect and admiration of her peers and then won over the judges to be crowned 2014 Lilac Queen.
She swept up several thousand dollars in college scholarships and will represent Spokane for the year with the sort of poise and grace befitting a polished professional – not a Ferris High School senior still trying to pick a college.
“She is just an exceptional young lady,” said Jenifer Eberle, the vice president of royalty for the Spokane Lilac Festival. “She doesn’t exert the power she has; she shares it and lifts everyone around up.”
Pearson plans to pick between Washington State University and Seattle University as the first step in her pursuit to become a medical nurse practitioner. She is now the senior class president at Ferris, where she also plays volleyball and track and participates in cheerleading. She is the daughter of Timothy and Kathy Pearson.
High school seniors from around the region competed for queen in events spanning the past three months. A group of 14 was invited to the final round Sunday night at the Bing Crosby Theater.
Each gave a short speech about the importance of teamwork to several hundred people in attendance, including Spokane Mayor David Condon and Col. Brian Newberry, wing commander at Fairchild Air Force Base.
The coronation unfolded amid all the pageantry the Lilac Festival represents.
And yet it may be remembered for the fumbled announcement of the queen.
A mix-up of names led outgoing queen Brett Rountree to name the wrong princess as queen. Majestic Tschabold, a Medical Lake senior, looked stunned when she thought she won, and then gracious when Lilac Festival officials including co-President Cecelia Stephens rushed to correct the error before a crown was placed or a bouquet handed out.
After awkward apologies during the climax of the event, Rountree announced Pearson the queen and the congratulations and hugs began.
The six princesses joining Pearson on the royal court are:
Elsie Story of Mount Spokane High School.
Mackenzie Claeys of Freeman High School.
Rebekah Fields of Valley Christian School.
Madisen DeGeest of Central Valley High School.
Chelsea Evans of Riverpoint Academy.
Majestic Tschabold of Medical Lake High School.
Pearson’s winning speech centered on farm work. She joined the crew during a wheat harvest last summer and learned about driving a combine. She also learned about bringing in a valuable crop, and understanding the important roles of trust and leadership in a team setting when she struggled to get the huge machine started and sought help.
Each princess receives a $1,500 scholarship and the court represents Spokane at the annual Armed Forces Torchlight Parade this May.
Click here to comment on this story »