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Seniors make fallen classmate an honorary princess

Shannon Strickland, who was 'always smiling,' added to court

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KENT FRASURE - Coral and David Strickland, parents of the late Shannon Strickland, accept flowers and a homecoming princess crown on behalf of their daughter at Forest Grove High School Friday.On Friday evening, there were three senior class homecoming princesses at Forest Grove High School — one more than the usual two.

In addition to princesses Robin Evers and Karini Nyamu, FGHS Class of 2015 officers decided to posthumously honor Shannon Strickland, who would have graduated with them next June but instead passed away from a rare cancer in August 2013 at the age of 16.

“We decided to make Shannon an honorary princess,” said senior class vice-president Taylor Olson, who had known Shannon since they were in first grade. “If she were still with us she would have been on the court, so this was a big thing for us.”

Shannon’s parents, Coral and David Strickland, stood on the football field during halftime of the Vikings’ homecoming game with West Albany and accepted flowers and a crown as tributes to their daughter.

Coral Strickland said the gesture was special to her and her husband.

“I think it’s just an incredible testament to the person my daughter was,” Coral said. “In her short two years at the high school, she obviously touched the lives of so many of her classmates.

“Shannon didn’t let cancer stand in her way. We’re extremely appreciative that the seniors chose to honor her in this way.”

For Olson, the memorial aspect of this year’s homecoming festivities was both meaningful and a bit overwhelming.

“It was a very emotional time with lots of tears and hugs,” Olson said, “but it needed to happen.”

Shannon was a violinist in the FGHS orchestra. In the months following her death, friends and family members contributed to the Shannon Strickland Memorial Fund, which benefits the FGHS music department and a summer camp for children with cancer.

Last spring, classmate Megan Brown raised money through the school’s annual “Mr. Viking” contest for the Portland-based Children’s Cancer Association.

She “always put a smile on everyone’s face,” noted Olson. “Anytime anyone saw Shannon, she was smiling.”

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