Emily Saito went from tears of sadness to all smiles as she was crowned Eatonville High School’s new Daffodil Festival princess last week.
She will represent the school and the community in festival activities in 2014, including the Grand Floral Parade in April, and now is in the running to become the festival’s queen.
Saito, a senior who is involved in backstage work for student drama productions, is a cheerleader and also was this year’s homecoming queen at Eatonville, earned the Daffodil crown Oct. 15 based on judges’ evaluation of her one-on-one interviews with them in the school’s library and how she handled herself on the auditorium stage that night answering an impromptu question and giving a short speech.
During her speech, Saito had to pause as she choked back tears and struggled to regain her composure when talking about an inspirational teacher whose death while she was in middle school changed her perspective on life.
“When he died, it opened my eyes,” she said. “I realized i couldn’t just wait to be the person I wanted to be. All kids should be confident in themselves and face every challenge with an open heart and open mind.”
Saito, who plans to become a computer engineer, is “one of the most dedicated people I know,” said classmate Kenneth Johnson, who was her escort as she entered the auditorium for the selection program.
After she was announced as princess, a stunned but smiling Saito said the evening had been “really exciting. I’m very happy.”
Alma Bass, who was one of the program’s masters of ceremony and is the school’s cheerleaders coach, quipped, “Just because you’re princess now doesn’t mean you can miss practice tomorrow.”
The other princess candidates were Hannah Kavanaugh, Cindy Johnson, Christina Parker, Kelsie Baskett, Cassidy Forler, Darci Clement and Chelsea Toohey.
Twenty-four high schools in Pierce County are picking princesses. One will be named as the festival’s queen early next year.