Favorite Events, Game Changing Moments, and Future Goals: Farewell to the Royal Court of 2023!

We asked the 2023 Royal Court to answer a few questions about some of the things they’ll take with them from this past year, before we get started with Selection Season for 2024. So, before they pack up their luggage and hit the road for their next great adventure, let’s give the Royal Court of 2023 one last round of applause for an incredible Daffodil season!  

From getting their gowns in February, to high school graduation in June, the Daffodil Festival Royal Court then only has a handful of summer months left in the public eye before moving on to out-of-town Parade season, and finally, moving away to bigger and better plans at the end of each summer.

Not, of course, without doing a little reflecting on their favorite memories, most important events, and how their Daffodil journey has prepared them for embarking on an exciting future… with plenty of new skills, experiences, and friendships earned along the way.

AMAZING EVENTS

The life of a Daffodil Princess comes with a busy schedule, one packed with Princess Practices, library readings, school visits, and more, even in the midst of an already rigorous academic calendar and community commitments undertaken on their own. However, there’s something about wearing a tiara that can make even the most daunting checklist of events feel exciting, especially when it comes complete with opportunities like riding on a yacht, hosting a tea party, or visiting the Capitol building.

For instance, take Princess Katelyn, from Franklin Pierce High School, who will be attending the University of Washington in Seattle come this Fall.

The Princess program gave her the kickstart she needed to start propelling her on new adventures. “Daffodil gave me the opportunity to experience new things that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the things I enjoy doing, now that Daffodil has exposed me to so many fun things.”

Princess Melony, from Bethel High School, is headed to the University of Washington Seattle campus as well, to study Civil Engineering, with the future goal of working on “stabilization of buildings in earthquake prone areas.”

Like many other members of the Royal Court, she enjoyed supporting our official Queen’s Guard, the Clan Gordon Pipe Band, at their annual ball. “One of my most joyful moments in the past year has been dancing the night away at the Clan Gordon Tartan Ball with my friends.  It was so much fun dancing with the little kids and singing as loud as we could all night!”

Princess Kyona, from Silas High School, will be heading to the other side of the state, to attend Washington State University.

The Ball made a great impact on her, as well, as it allowed her the down time necessary to bond with other members of her Court. “Clan Gordon [Tartan] Ball was fun.  I think it is important to do activities with the girls outside of service, as we were able to just enjoy [our] time and get to know each other.”

Princess Aurora, from Curtis High School, will be hopping over a state to the University of Idaho, for a future in Business Management, as well as pursue her love of Dance.

For Princess Aurora, the Princess Tea Party served as an especially important milestone in her Daffodil journey. “It was a full circle moment to me,” she explains, “because when I was little and went to Princess Tea, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a Daffodil Princess.”

Little did she know what the yellow gown had in store for her. “Daffodil has done so much for me, from connecting me with people for my future, to just having twenty-three amazing new friends and sisters!”

Princess Kiara cracks up during the photoshoot for her official Princess portrait. [photo courtesy of Jeff Ritter]

Princess Kiara, from Sumner High School, is venturing to the University of Washington Seattle, pursuing a major in Biochemistry as a pre-medicine student.

One of the most unique annual events on the Festival calendar got her enthusiastic seal of approval. “My favorite memory has to be when we went to the Spanapark Lions Bowling event! We got to bowl in our dresses, which was really fun! I was partnered with [Princess] Marissa. However, while we were enjoying ourselves we were also having a small competition with [Princess] Kiana and [Princess] Bre to see who could get the highest score each round…  It was not only exciting but also really funny because we were the last pair to finish, so we were rushing to get our stuff at the end!”

Princess Alena, from Puyallup High School will be attending Washington State University, and is interested in the Pre-Law program, with the plan of earning a Bachelor Degree in Political Science, to eventually become a state senator for Washington.

“My favorite moment would be the Starlight Parade, meeting many different Courts and learning about their experience,” she says. “I didn’t have the understanding for how other Courts worked, and how they are all very unique. We had a Court lunch in with 3 other Courts, and just talking to all of the girls was truly enjoyable.”

“GAME CHANGER” MOMENTS

While the events themselves are a ton of fun, it’s not just the activities that make an impact: Daffodil Princesses meet and engage with a wide variety of people across not only Pierce County, but far beyond, as Pierce County’s Official Goodwill Ambassadors.

Princess Mariya, from Henry Foss High School, will be attending Pacific Lutheran University to pursue a Dual Engineering Program.

“The biggest game changer was the smile of little kids,” she says, “and how much they adore having someone to look up to. As an example, I was doing a reading at Whitman Elementary, and these little kids were amazed and shocked when I entered the classroom. They proceeded to draw flowers and give me gifts, which was touching… I still keep the gifts to this day.”

Princess Melody, from Harrison Prep, is also headed for Pacific Lutheran University, pursuing a Major in Nursing. “I hope to be able to work in a children’s hospital as a pediatric nurse,” she says. “Since I was initially interested in majoring as a surgeon, I may continue my education to become a perioperative nurse for children.”

For Princess Melody, it was her first-ever outing as an official Princess that really made her realize what she was capable of as a part of Daffodil. “Sue and Scott [Dellinger] were our chaperones – it was me, then-Princess Vivian, Princess Aurora and Princess Bre – and we were all really nervous. I was nervous and a bit sad that I didn’t know what to do, and nobody knew about my school. But to my surprise people still asked me where I was from, and seemed interested whenever I talked about myself.

“I think the moment everything clicked that I was doing something really important was when we all posed for a picture with little girls, and one of them turned around and complimented my braces,” she says. “I realized she also had braces, and with that compliment I realized that those little girls saw themselves in us. From our ethnic identity to our appearances, all of us were important in being able to represent every child and person.”

These opportunities to meet new people also give our Royal Court the chance to test out some of their newfound skills: across the course of Princess Practices, they’ve been given the chance to develop interviewing skills, answer impromptu questions, build a professional wardrobe, and gain confidence in their public speaking abilities, all things that come in handy throughout the course of their reign. It’s no surprise that many of these assets end up defining some of their most memorable experiences.

Queen Vivian, from Lakes High School, is planning on a future in Human Resources, thanks to Western Governors University and their Business Administration program. Her focus is to help create safer work environments for employees.

For her, the Daffodil event that defined her experience was during the annual Princess trip to the Capitol in Olympia. “My ‘game changer’ moment… was for our Olympia trip, where I was required to speak publicly. This moment really showed me that what I have to say is important,” she says, “and it was a moment where my confidence blossomed, because I knew that what I was doing was for a purpose greater than myself.”

The 2023 Daffodil Royal Court takes in the splendor of the Capitol Building in Olympia during their visit this past Spring. [photo courtesy of Jeff Ritter]

Princess Hope, from Rogers High School, is off to the University of Washington Seattle to study Business and Finance.

Dinner with the shipmates at the Tacoma Yacht Club made for one of Princess Hope’s game changer moments. “I recall taking notice, for the first time, just how much I have learned and grown throughout this experience. Being sat at a table for dinner with people I have never met before, in a place that was unfamiliar to me, and being able to carry out a very personable and enjoyable conversation was something that I would have never imagined myself doing a year ago.”

“I have always been social among my peers,” she explains, “but Daffodil really stretched me to be able to let go of feelings of awkwardness and anxiety in conversations with new people, and be confident in myself. It is skills like these, that Daffodil has given me a platform to develop, that I know will give me a boost in the upcoming chapters of my life.”

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

Princess Hope isn’t the only one considering how Daffodil has shaped their path towards future success. Because the Royalty Program assists in multiple facets of leadership training, many members of the Royal Court feel better prepared for pursuing their career goals by the time they graduate.

Princess Kaitlyn, from Lincoln High School, is off to the University of Washington Seattle. “I would like to pursue the dental route. I’m thinking of going into dental hygiene, but I’m also interested in becoming an Orthodontist, maybe in the future!”

Grappling with speaking in front of a crowd has always been difficult for Princess Kaitlyn, but thanks to Daffodil, she can tell her abilities have improved. “I’ve always had stage fright. I didn’t know how to resolve the problem, so I just let it be. There wasn’t a specific moment but during the Daffodil program, my nerves melted off. I got comfortable speaking in front of large audiences and being socially out there, which helped a lot.”

Not to mention the other skills that come with the task of being a Daffodil Princess. “It has taught me so many things that I incorporate into my daily life, like putting together business casual outfits, making a resume, and honing my public speaking skills.”

Princess Marissa, from Washington High School, will be traveling out of state to William and Mary in Virginia, in order to study International Relations. “I want to dedicate my life to giving back to the community, and work at the national level of government in the legislative branch.”

Her experiences within the Daffodil Festival will undoubtably help her as she embarks on her journey, especially when it comes to confidence. “I feel much more confident in my ability to communicate with other people and feel more comfortable talking with people I don’t know, or just met.”

For Princess Hannah, from Eatonville High School, Liberty University in Virginia is the plan, to major in Biomedical Sciences. “After I finish my bachelor’s degree, I will either continue on to medical school or PA school, to become a future healthcare provider.”

“It has helped me become more confident with public speaking,” says Princess Hannah, “I learned to be bold and stand up for myself, and to not let the opinions of others change my own goals and plans for my future.”

Princess Adrianna, Clover Park High school, will be attending Colorado University’s Boulder campus. In the future, she hopes to get a job in Seattle, and work within the publishing field as a Developmental Editor.

“I am far better at talking about myself in a confident manner,” she says. In fact, she knew she had grown when a Kiwanis member actually complemented her public speaking skills at an event!

Princess Audrey, from White River High School, will be attending the University of Washington Seattle, in order to major in Political Science, and minor in American Sign Language.

Because of the Daffodil Alumnae’s involved network of past Royalty, Audrey knew exactly who to turn to for advice for the future. “Having an amazing group of younger people in charge – Daffodillians, Chaperones – was an amazing outlet for any questions about college, jobs, interviewing, etc. This resource has helped me feel so much more comfortable going off to college and getting prepared for my future.”

Princess Kayliana, from Chief Leschi Schools, is taking a gap year, but will be continuing her studies in the Winter 2024, when she plans on attending Tacoma Community College to study Business Management.

The confidence she has gained throughout the experience is something she knows she will take with her. “Daffodil has definitely helped me come out of my comfort zone! I used to be so shy, and I was never the person to just get out there and dance, but now I’m probably the first person on the dance floor. I learned how to be confident in what I’m doing, no matter what it is, whether it’s giving a speech or just introducing myself… I learned to be the real me, whether it’s sad, mad, happy etc. I can still be the real me even with all these emotions.”

Princess Carissa on the mic leading an activity at Princess Tea, with Princess Oluebube, Fife High School, providing support. [photo courtesy of Jeff Ritter]

Princess Carissa, Graham-Kapowsin High School, will be attending Pacific Lutheran University to study Business, and possibly Pre-Law.

“I believe that Daffodil as a whole really reaffirmed me in my ability to public speak, be confident, and network well. While I may have been able to speak in front of a group before or talk to guests at an event, Daffodil helped me become more confident in those abilities and even improve upon them.”

Specifically, those career goals will be helped along with much of the professional development the program has to offer. “Daffodil has better prepared me for my future by helping me with interviewing, public speaking, networking, and much more. I have gained priceless experience as well as knowledge that will help me greatly with my future endeavors.”

FRIENDSHIP FOREVER

Beyond the tiara, the memories, or the professional training, what Daffodil Princesses will undoubtably treasure the most, are the incredible friendships they have formed while taking part in the program. Far and away, what the Royal Court expresses that they are thankful for the most, it is the relationships they have formed with their fellow members.

Past Daffodil Presidents Tim Smith and Ernie Ouellette gear up for the 2023 Daffodil Festival Auction, hosted by the Tacoma Yacht Club, while Princesses smile in the background. [photo courtesy of Jeff Ritter]

Princess Kaitlyn, from Emerald Ridge High School, is headed off to Washington State University, to study Marketing and Communications. For her, the friendships she found within her Court made all the difference in the experience.

“I’d just never before felt supported like I do by other girls,” she says. “The friendships I’ve made with my Court are unlike anything else, and these girls have shown me what true friendship really is.”

That’s what made Parade Day one of her most impactful memories of her Daffodil journey. “My best memories have to be laughing with Princess Hope. Especially on Parade Day, we sat together on the float, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in one day!”

Princess Kiana, from Bonney Lake High School, will be attending George Fox University in Oregon, to obtain her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, to pursue her dreams of becoming a Pediatric Registered Nurse. 

For Princess Kiana, her most joyful memories of the program have been forged in the relationships she had gained through the program. “There is definitely a sisterhood that is created between the Princesses. Each of us Princesses now share a bond, because we just shared the same experiences for a year together.”

“My favorite animal is an elephant,” she explains, “and a herd of elephants is only women, a matriarchy. This matriarchy creates very strong bonds between the elephants, and they look out for one another. I feel like being in Daffodil created that sense of sisterhood for me that I have never experienced before.”

Princess Anna, from Orting High School, is off to Bellevue College to get a major in Psychology, with plans to eventually transfer to Washington State University, to minor in Animal Science, as well. “The ultimate goal is to be an Animal Behavioralist. I want to work with animals and their owners so we can gain a better understanding of what they are trying to tell us.”

The active social environment was one of Princess Anna’s biggest hurdles, which only made her stronger. “I have never really been a social person, so becoming a Princess was a big change for me. When I interact with people now, I am way more confident in myself.”

It was those personal relationships she formed, including with Chaperones, that made all of the difference for her. “I would have to say that Demetria [Zuniga] made the most impact on me. On the long drives where I was the only Princess in the car, going to or from my house, we would just chat about life and talk about our shared interests. I always felt so welcome.”

Princess Breannah, from Mt. Tahoma High School, will be joining the student body of Pacific Lutheran University with the eventual goal of becoming an Occupational Therapist, while also earning a minor in ASL.

“This Court has taught me very valuable lessons about friendship, love for others, and how to become the best version of myself,” she says. “I’m so glad that I was able to be part of the 2023 Court.”

The life of a daffodil is short, but the legacy of a Daffodil Princess is much longer: as those within their alumnae’s illustrious ranks know well, “Once a Princess, Always a Princess.” While we are sad to see our incredible 2023 Court move on, we know that they will only continue to make us proud.

We are immensely thankful for their year of service, wish them luck on their future endeavors… and remind them that there will always be a place for them here, in the Daffodil Festival.

The 2023 Royal Court were officially proclaimed to be Daffodil Princesses back in February. They have come so far! [photo courtesy of Jeff Ritter]

To see more of what the 2023 Royal Court has accomplished this past year, check out the official Daffodil Festival Facebook and Instagram.

Interested in running for a Princess title yourself? Check out the “Selections” section of the website, to learn about participating high schools, get some advice from past Royalty, and more.

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