April 1 was a great day for Marlo Eckert — she turned 18 and began her stint as a Portland Rose Festival princess.

Eckert, a senior at Glencoe High School, was crowned the Metro West Rose Festival Princess last month.

April 1 was the beginning of a busy few months for the 15 young women representing high schools all over the Portland metropolitan area.

She couldn’t be more excited. Wednesday was the first day all the princess were scheduled to meet one another. Eckert said earlier this week she had already met about half them, and “it feels like I have a brand new family. We all have the same common interests. We’re go-getters.”

It’s been a long road to get where she is now. Eckert was a Metro West court finalist last year. Encouraged by 2011 Metro West Rose Festival Princess Taylor Gerst — who was also from Glencoe High — Eckert applied and was chosen as a finalist.

“Taylor told me I should do this,” Eckert said. “I felt like it was a good fit.”

Armed with her experience from last year, she applied again this year. After a few rounds of giving speeches and answering questions in front of a panel of judges, Eckert was chosen as one of four Metro West finalists. She was crowned the Metro West princess March 18.

Beginning May 6 and continuing until the festival begins May 23, Eckert and the other princesses will travel together six days a week, visiting community events, business leaders, hospitals, senior living centers, youth organizations and civic groups as ambassadors of the Rose Festival.

Being busy is what makes Eckert happy. She’s stayed involved in academics and extracurricular activities all through high school. A multi-sport athlete, she chose this year to concentrate on softball as a member of Oregon Thunder. She’s also been an umpire for the Hillsboro Girls Softball Association.

Eckert also started and is now co-president of “Teens Against Bullying” at Glencoe, a group of students who focus on quashing the growing trend of cyber-bullying.

Eckert has been heavily involved in engineering classes and activities since middle school as a participant in ChickTech and Sisters in Science, organizations that help promote girls’ participation in technology and engineering.

But Eckert has set her career sights on something else.

“I want to be a lawyer,” she said, and specifically a district attorney.

She’s in the midst of narrowing down her college choices.

“The problem is, I applied to too many,” she joked. For her undergraduate degree, she will major in business administration and human resources.

Eckert’s parents are Robert and Judy Eckert. At her crowning ceremony, she said, there were people in the audience cheering loudly.

“People asked me, ‘Was that your parents?’ Nope. That was my vice principal and school counselor,” she said.

Her parents sat in the front row, right in front of her, proudly — but not loudly — applauding her accomplishment. Eckert said her family jokingly nicknamed her dad “Joe Torre,” after the stoic baseball manager. Her brother, Matt, a Glencoe freshman, was her escort during the princess selection.

“I felt like I won one for the school and for my family,” Eckert said of her selection.

She also grabbed a $3,500 scholarship for her college fund.

A second Rose Festival princess from Hillsboro was also selected this year. Annette Holgado is a student at St. Mary’s Academy in downtown Portland. Her parents are Wally and Laura Holgado.

A Rose Festival queen will be selected from among the 15 princesses on June 7 at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum, just before the Grand Floral Parade steps off.

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