David Douglas High greets new Princess

See what led to Stephanie Vo being selected the 2016 Portland Rose Festival David Douglas High School Princess …

Christopher D. Silva conducts the David Douglas High School choir, as they sing the National Anthem at the start of an “all school” assembly in which another outer East Portland Rose Festival Princess would be announced.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

“Here we are again, it’s Portland Rose Festival time!” exclaimed David Douglas High School (DDHS) Principal John Bier at the all-school assembly March 8, as the students and faculty entered and found seats in the two-story-high gymnasium.

“We are very excited to have our student body of 3,000+ cheering on our 2016 court,” Bier told East Portland News. “We have four top quality students participating in this program again this year. Each of the court members bring positive and different attributes to the program; we’re very proud of all of them.”

DDHS students and faculty stand and cheer as the program gets underway.

Seated on stage are members of the 2016 DDHS Rose Festival Court – Juliana Baker, Korrie Brown, Dekoda Dean, and Stephanie Vo.

As is the custom at this assembly, the school’s Prom Committee put on a short skit at the beginning, and announced the theme of this year’s Festival.

2015’s Portland Rose Festival David Douglas Princess, Elli Simotas, stepped up onto the stage and addressed this year’s court.

“First of all, I congratulate all four of these ladies,” began Simotas. “It truly is an accomplishment to be standing up here, and you should all be very proud of yourselves.

“A year ago today I had the honor of being crowned the 2015 Princess for our school,” recalled Simotas. “What I didn’t realize that day was what a life-changing, incredible experience I had ahead of me.”

For the last time in this role, 2015 Portland Rose Festival David Douglas Princess Elli Simotas addresses the student body, and gives advice to the incoming Princess.

After talking about her experiences as the school’s representative, she said, “I consider myself proud to represent our school; it’s truly ‘a miracle on 135th Avenue’.”

She advised whoever would be chosen the school’s newly-crowned Princess, “Make the most of the experience that lies ahead of you. I hope your experience as a Portland Rose Festival Princess will be as exciting and fulfilling as mine was.”

Unitus Community Credit Union Mentor Michelle Lachenmeier presents a gift to each of member of the 2016 DDHS Portland Rose Festival Court.

When she discovers that she’s the one selected to represent her school, 2016 Portland Rose Festival David Douglas High School Princess Stephanie Vo expresses surprise and joy.

After her name was announced, 2016 Portland Rose Festival David Douglas High School Princess Stephanie Vo beamed and addressed the DDHS student body.

“Oh, David Douglas, I love you all, and thank you so much,” said Princess Stephanie. “This opportunity means so much to me. I thank all of my supporters, and everyone who has made the Portland Rose Festival what it is today. Thank you all so much.”

Princess Stephanie Vo thanks her supporters, and asks the student body for their good wishes.

As the assembly ended, Princess Stephanie spoke with East Portland News.

“Everyone here is supportive, and I’m thrilled to represent our school,” Princess Stephanie said. “I feel so proud to be part of a great school and neighborhood community. Being able to represent them is a tremendous honor.”

Princess Stephanie was recently seen playing quite a quite a different role – that of Elaine Harper, a leading role in the comedy, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, put on by the school’s Theater Department earlier this month.

“Without a doubt, theater productions have helped me prepare me for this,” Princess Stephanie acknowledged. “Being in theater helps me feel more comfortable being in front of a crowd. I was the shyest girl before; performing on stage has given me the confidence to feel more relaxed in front of a large group of people.”

A Princess surrounded by her Court: From left, Juliana Baker, Korrie Brown, Princess Stephanie Vo, and Dekoda Dean.

She said she was looking forward to meeting, and traveling with, the other 13 Princesses of the 2016 Portland Rose Festival Court.

“My favorite Rose Festival event would be the Starlight Parade, hands-down,” Princess Stephanie grinned. “I love the bright lights against the night sky, as each float shows the individuality in the diverse ‘melting pot’ that is Portland. This year, I look forward to being in the parade, looking out, and seeing my parents. They’re so proud of me, and I want to do everything I can to fulfill that, and to continue to make them proud.”

The Scots’ new Portland Rose Festival Princess says she plans to attend a college or university to study fashion journalism. The $3,500 scholarship provided by The Randall Group, valid for any accredited college, university, or trade program, will certainly help Princess Stephanie reach her goal.

Congratulations to 2016 Portland Rose Festival David Douglas High School Princess Stephanie Vo.

Princess Stephanie says she hopes the David Douglas community will come and cheer her on, at the Queen’s Coronation June 11th, starting at 8:30 a.m., at Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum – just before the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade begins.

For tickets, event registration, and more information, see the official Portland Rose Festival Foundation website: CLICK HERE.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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