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Cleveland High selects its Portland Rose Festival Princess

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Introducing the 2013 Portland Rose Festival Cleveland Princess - Annelise Cummings! As students filed in to the Cleveland High School (CHS) theater, families and friends of the young ladies forming the school’s 2013 Portland Rose Festival Court found their seats, on the afternoon of March 15.

Portland Rose Festival Foundation President Todd Johnston was on hand at the assembly for the announcement of the Princess representing the school at this year’s citywide celebration. “One of the many things that makes the Portland Rose Festival unique,” Johnston explained, “is that the Rose Festival Court highlights academic achievement, and school and community participation.”

Candidates apply in writing, and are interviewed, before moving on in the process by which schools choose their Princess candidates.

“All of the candidates accepted into the Court are highly qualified to be the Queen of Rosaria,” Johnston stressed.

Last year’s Cleveland High Princess Charlotte Taylor took a moment before making her remarks to tell about her involvement with the Portland Rose Festival. “I've never traveled that much around the state before,” Taylor said. “I loved going to all the places in Oregon. Going to Pendleton, and all these places I never knew about, was enlightening.”

Her words of advice for the incoming Princess: “Don't get too stressed out! Try to take it easy. That will really even out, and make better, your experience,” Taylor counseled.

The auditorium filled, and the program began at 3 pm. One by one, the three Cleveland Princess candidates – Annelise Cummings, Brianna Snipes, and Shaela Williams – walked down the long aisle from the back of the auditorium up onto the stage.

After Portland Rose Festival Foundation officials were introduced, outgoing Princess Charlotte Taylor told the students, “Rose Festival was truly a life-changing experience for me. Thank you so much Cleveland, and Rose Festival, for giving me this experience.”

The mentor for the soon-to-be announced Cleveland Princess, Pacific Power’s Kim Leverich, gave each of the three candidates a small wrapped gift. The three candidates then stood together, holding one another’s hands, awaiting the announcement.

Senior Annelise Cummings looked truly surprised when she felt the tiara being placed on her head.

2013 Portland Rose Festival Cleveland Princess Annelise simply said “Thank you!” before alighting on the ceremonial throne. Representatives of the student body, and the school’s administration, presented her gifts, to conclude the program.

CHS Vice Principal Kevin Taylor said he was happy about the large student turnout for the program.

“Cleveland has a really long-standing tradition of being associated with the Portland Rose Festival,” Taylor told THE BEE. “And, it’s been our school that’s provided several of the Portland Rose Festival Queens over the years. Princess Annelise really does have that possibility.”

Princess Annelise looked happy and energized as she spoke with THE BEE, still sitting on her throne, draped in scarlet satin.

When she heard her name read, Princess Annelise told us, her first thought was, “Are you kidding me?” She added thoughtfully, “That’s probably not the best response, now that I think about it! I just feel so very honored.”

Asked about the process, she said, “I think back to last Friday, when I was giving my speech. Afterward, people came up to say that I inspire them – that, in and of itself, is my ‘award’. This, today, is ‘icing on the cake’.”

The theme of her speech was drawn from her own experiences – that everyone is faced with difficulties and challenges from time to time. “There are times when life is not okay. But it’s okay to realize that it's not okay. And the thing to do is to reach out and connect with people; to realize what’s really important, and to gain perspective on life.”

She continued, “There are people who are willing to help – you must be willing to accept their help. This is a hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad I learned it.”

The 17-year-old senior has been honored for her participation in three Intel Science Fairs, and for her performance as a jazz musician. She’s also been involved in robotics, coaching students for the Science Bowl, and making videos.

Princess Annelise plans to pursue a career as a mechanical engineer, musician, or videographer, she says.

In addition to being in the running to be named the “Queen of Rosaria” at the Queen's Coronation on June 8, Princess Annelise has also been awarded a $3,500 scholarship funded by The Randall Group.