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The fate of the Rose Festival this year is in question, but at least there'll be a Princess from Cleveland High

DAVID F. ASHTON - Last year's Cleveland High Portland Rose Festival Princess, Zoey Weesner, places the tiara on the head of newly-named 2021 CHS Princess Rena Marthaler, as members of her court looked on. Weather forecasters promised showers for April 8, but for all those invited to the front steps of Cleveland High School (CHS) that afternoon, there was only cool spring sunshine for the announcement of the school's 2021 Portland Rose Festival Princess.

Carefully following COVID-19 safety protocols, guests and participants stood in assigned spaces, as the ceremony began promptly at 3 p.m.

The CHS "Princess Court" – Hannah Crouser, Zoie Dalton-Smith, Pallas Lake, and Rena Marthaler – all took their places on the lower steps; the podium was set up at the top of the stairs near the school's entrance doors.

The four candidates were formally introduced by Jackson Weinberg, CHS's Deputy Student Representative on Portland Public Schools' District Student Council.

Then, Portland Rose Festival Foundation President-Elect John O'Hanlon stepped up to explain, "The theme of the 2021 Rose Festival is 'Hope Reigns'." He went on to introduce dignitaries and guests at the ceremony.

Last year's Cleveland High Portland Rose Festival Court Princess, Zoey Weesner, spoke for a moment before revealing this year's selection. "I thank the Portland Rose Festival for giving me such a unique opportunity; because of them I was able to meet more people to share this amazing experience with. I also thank Cleveland High School.

"I know any of these four amazing young women would do a fantastic job at representing us this year," Princess Zoey commented before opening the envelope and revealing Rena Marthaler as the school's 2021 Portland Rose Festival representative, and then placing the CHS Princess's tiara on her head.

Cleveland High Principal Jo Ann Wadkins stepped up to present Princess Rena with a bouquet of roses as the ceremony concluded.

Immediately after that announcement, newly-crowned Princes Rena gave an interview to THE BEE, mentioning that she and her family, who live in Eastmoreland Heights, read this newspaper every month.

"Before Cleveland, I attended Sellwood Middle School; and before that, Duniway Elementary School," said Princess Rena. "The most important thing about representing the CHS Warriors, to me, is becoming part of a group of amazing young women who will be representing their community. I feel very lucky that I can be the one to representat Cleveland High School," she affirmed. "I'm so looking forward to meeting the other Princesses on this year's Portland Rose Festival Court, and connecting with community leaders as well."

She disclosed that originally she had been unsure if she should even apply. "But now, after going to the whole process, and having had made it this far, it's been such a positive learning experience for me. Just one example would be learning how to write speeches that are true to myself and my values.

"I'd definitely encourage a person to apply, to put their heart in it, and go for it!" she exclaimed.

Cleveland's Principal, Jo Ann Wadkins, was all smiles behind her pandemic mask. "Indeed any one of these four students would've made a fantastic Princess; I'm super proud of them all."

As Princess Rena nears the end her junior year at CHS, she said she plans to earn her full International Baccalaureate credential, as well as the high school diploma.

Then, with the help of the $3,500 scholarship she will receive, as all Portland Area Rose Festival Princesses do, from The Randall Group, she plans to earn a Masters degree in a STEM field, such as environmental engineering – with a double major in either music or social justice.

The 2021 Portland Rose Festival Queen will be selected from among all of this year's Princesses and crowned the Queen of Rosaria, at the Queen's Coronation in the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, which is now slated to be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 18.

To find out more about what will and will not be part of the 2021 Portland Rose Festival, go online –

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