The Portland Rose Festival recently announced that after an exhaustive review of the Rose Festival Court program, it will be adding an 'at large' princess, opening the 15th spot to all 5A and 6A schools in the Portland metropolitan area, including Sandy High School.

Starting in 2009, the at-large seat on the court will give one junior or senior girl from Washington, Clackamas or Multnomah counties the chance to join the 14 girls picked from Portland-area schools.

Current participating high schools include: Benson, Wilson, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Parkrose, Cleveland, Grant, Franklin, Central Catholic, David Douglas, Madison, St. Mary's Academy, Marshall and Lincoln.

The change is the first alteration of the Rose Festival Court in more than 70 years.

Jennifer O'Bryan of the Rose Festival said the decision was made to give the entire region a stake in the court.

'The Rose Festival and the court are looking at ways to be more inclusive, and to get more participation of the whole metropolitan area,' O'Bryan said.

Sandy High School Athletic Director Courtney Murphy was excited about the prospect of a Pioneer sitting on the court.

'It's absolutely wonderful,' Murphy said. 'I consider the Rose Festival princesses … much like the (Chamber's) Youth Citizen of the Year. It's exciting and very promising that the Rose Festival recognizes us as more than just a neighbor; now we're part of the family.'

While the Rose Festival is still working out the exact details of the selection process, O'Bryan said that it would begin with a self-initiated application this fall. Sandy students would be compared with every other applicant from the tri-county area and would be judged based on community service, academic achievements and other positive contributions.

Murphy said Pioneer ladies have a definite shot at the crown next year.

'We have many young women in our community that would strive for that honor - and many contribute already without it,' Murphy said.

Finalists would be invited to a panel interview, which most likely would result in the selection of the at-large princess. Selection to the court isn't just about being Rose Festival loyalty; each princess gets a $3,500 scholarship courtesy of The Randall Group and Pacific Power.

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