Youngest festival princess known for her love of community, animals, carnival rides
by: Lisa K. Anderson Sandy Mountain Festival Princess Faith Francis aspires to be a veterinarian. For now, the 9-year-old tends to her cat, Chrissy.

This year's youngest Sandy Mountain Festival princess first inspired her Sunday school teacher at age 2.

Jan Jaqua remembers the vivacious toddler climbing up a blow-up slide at Oktoberfest. She fearlessly jumped and slid as Jaqua and her 4-year-old granddaughter watched in awe.

'I've never forgotten it,' Jaqua says. 'She's an abundance of energy and joy.'

Faith Francis, the youngest princess, finished fourth grade at Sandy Grade School Tuesday and is already an active community member at age 9. She eagerly awaits this year's festival, which she has attended since birth.

'We always referred to her as our princess and took photos of her with the princesses,' Faith's maternal grandmother Eileen Suchanek says. 'I am absolutely delighted and thrilled to no end.'

When Faith's teacher Joyce Hyland called to tell Faith she was a princess on the festival court, she and her mother screamed with excitement. She couldn't wait to tell her friends, but she also did not want anyone to feel left out or uncomfortable.

'Faith is not about Faith,' Suchanek says. 'Faith is about others. If she sees people sad, she will befriend them. If she sees someone being treated unkind, she will step in and stand up for them.'

Hyland nominated Faith for her early commitment to community and school involvement.

Faith's love of people extends to animals. When her dad and brother prepared for a hunting trip last year, she remembers bursting into tears and pleading with them not to go.

She loves all animals, she says, except for raccoons and rats. Chrissy, her cat, and Bear, her dog, are among her favorites.

In addition to caring for pets, Faith is learning front and back flips through gymnastics class and has played soccer for five years. She and her brothers, Seth, 12, and Aidan, 7, cheer each other on in sports.

'Mom and dad always said, 'Forgive, love and look out for each other,'' Faith says.

Sundays, Faith can be found at St. Michael's Catholic Church, where she attends Sunday school, volunteers and has served dinners to those less fortunate. She has also participated in community tree plantings.

Her additional activities include piano lessons every Friday and peer mediation, a program she participated in during the last school year that helped younger classmates resolve playground conflicts.

As a Girl Scout in the Brownie program, Faith made homemade dog treats to distribute in the community. She has also been involved with the Sandy Grade School art program.

Jaqua says that in her Sunday school class, Faith is on the younger side, with fifth- and sixth-grade students. She actively participates and isn't afraid to offer her opinion.

'She loves people and has a sense of her participation in the community,' Jaqua says. 'I would look for her to be a giver to the community when she grows up.'

Faith's family has taught her she can be or do anything she wants. Her adventurous toddler spirit has stuck with her, as she still loves scary carnival rides and maintains a vivid imagination.

This summer will take Faith and her family to Disneyland to celebrate her 10th birthday. It doesn't comes as a surprise that she looks forward to the rides.

'This little gal has a great sense,' Jaqua says. 'She's going to be squared away about what really matters in life.'

Faith is the daughter of Amy and Hilton Francis. Amy works at Providence Hospital in the business office, and Hilton works for Waste Management.

Five Generation Court

Today: Princess Faith Francis

June 15:Princess Christi Bidema

June 22: Princess Nannette Wilson

June 29: Princess Teresa McKinnis

July 6: Queen Joyce Martin

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