Allison Burke will represent Washington County schools

Allison BurkeFor the second time in more than 100 years, a student at Tigard High School has been named a princess of the Portland Rose Festival.

Allison Burke, 17, was named West Metro Rose Festival princess on Wednesday, March 13, during a coronation ceremony in Portland.

She becomes one of 15 girls from across the Portland area to join the festival’s court of princesses.

This June, one of those women will be crowned Queen of Rosaria before the Grand Floral Parade.

As a princess, Burke receives a $3,500 scholarship, a new wardrobe and a mentor.

This is the second year that princesses have been chosen to represent Portland’s western and eastern suburbs, but princesses from Tigard have been allowed in the past.

Tigard High School student Breanna Burnett was crowned princess in 2009.

“Students from the greater Metro-area have been participating in the festival for a really long time already,” said Rich Jarvis, a spokesman for the festival. “So we decided that to keep program vibrant, we should reach out and include those kids who are already involved.”

Busy travelers

Unlike most princesses, who represent a particular high school across Portland, Burke represents all of the Washington County high schools.

The road to being crowned a princess is tough, Jarvis said. Students must compete against one another, delivering speeches and answering questions from judges.

Above all else, Jarvis said, students need to have a passion for their role if they hope to be crowned princess.

“It’s all up to the young woman who comes in.” Jarvis said. “She needs to want to go for that scholarship and their (high schools) have to support them. The Rose Festival asks a lot of these young ladies.”

The members of the Rose Festival Court represent their schools throughout May and June, visiting hospitals, senior centers and nonprofits from across the Portland area, as well as appearing at Rose Festival events.

They will travel to Salem later this year to meet the governor and attend the Pendleton Roundup, Jarvis said. It’s part of a long history with the Rose Festival Court to do their part, Jarvis said.

“In war times, the court traveled around and helped raise funds for the war effort,” Jarvis said. “There is always something available for them to do. They are in high demand; we get so many demands, we have to turn people down. They are busy travelers.”

If crowned queen, Burke’s commitment would just begin.

The queen travels to sister city’s outside of the country, including Taiwan, and will spend the year promoting the festival.

More than ambassadors, Jarvis said, the Rose Festival princesses also learn how to handle themselves in real-world settings.

“It’s an extra amount of training that they won’t get in high school,” Jarvis said. “We bring in experts in areas, sometimes personal and professional issues, media issues, political issues. There is a lot of training they get because they are on stage every time they are out in public.”

Community volunteer

An aspiring nurse, Burke is involved in a host of activities at Tigard High School, including National Honor Society, Key Club, Link Crew, Student Advisory Council and Future Business Leaders of America. She is an accomplished violinist, plays on the school’s tennis team, participates in her local theater troupe and is president of the Tigard Youth Advisory Council.

Despite her numerous commitments, Burke said it was important not to spread yourself too thin.

"Sometimes it is better to realize that within your abilities, everyone has their limits in how much energy and effort they can give to all their interests,” Burke said. “Spreading yourself thin between many activities is usually not worth it and leads to feeling like you've let people down, and you are rarely satisfied with all your work. I've learned that dedicating yourself to a few things you are really passionate about can give you satisfaction and will not wear you out as easily."

The Rose Festival begins this May. The Grand Floral Parade and coronation of the queen are June 8.

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