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Reign will last a year if she's crowned Queen of Rosaria on June 8 just prior to the Grand Floral Parade

Life lessons already learned by Chloe Unflat, a junior at Wilson High School selected by her classmates as this year's Rose Festival Princess, include time management, risk taking and reaching out.

"My last day of school is May first," she said last month on the eve of her official orientation as one of 15 young women who make up this year's Rose Festival Court. "I get out of school four weeks early."

Of course that means early finals for Unflat, a member of the National Honor Society for her academic achievements, and a break from her Royal Court duties to take her Advanced Placement exams. Not to mention finding time to play club soccer at the top level for girls her age.

"Lots of time management involved," she said.

Unflat, who at the time of this interview had not yet met the princesses from other local high schools, says she is the only junior among the 14 "high achievers" with whom she'll spend six weeks.

The Rose Festival Queen will be crowned on the morning of June 8, just before the start of the Grand Floral Parade.

Unflat says she decided to take a chance and enter the princess selection process because of the two friends who encouraged her.

"One was my mentor when I was a freshman and the other is a close friend, they're wonderful, wonderful girls, she said. "I wanted to do something different so I said, 'Let's just try it' and never thought I'd get this far."

"Going into it I was like 'Oh, I'm not going to be a princess, that's silly,' but now I'm interested," she said, adding that this semester has been "so long" and that she's taking four AP classes.

On the eve of her official Rose Court duties she's already reaching out. Representing the Rose Festival to the community is one of her purposes as a princess.

"What I've gotten from it so far is you get to bring the Rose Festival to people, you get to share it. I love that," she said.

Right after she was announced as Wilson's selection for the Rose Court, she had to leave town.

"After hugs from my mom and dad I got on a plane to go to Las Vegas to play soccer," she said.

Unflat plays center back for the Washington Timbers, a club team, and the Wilson girl's varsity team. Last year her club team was the top team in Oregon in the highest bracket of competition for girls her age.

"I love soccer. I love the Thorns. My dad took me to see the U.S. Womens National Team and told me, 'Watch your position and see what they're doing,'" she said. "I watched and thought, 'I can do that.' You learn so much from them. Oh my God, I admire them so much. They're amazing role models."

Unflat is currently working on a research essay for one of her classes on the lawsuit recently filed by the U.S. Womens National Team players seeking pay equal to what the players on the U.S. Mens National Team make.

"That's one of my final projects," she said. "The women only make 38% of what the men make and they've won three World Cups."

Unflat says she doesn't feel the same pressure as a Rose Festival Princess that she feels on the soccer field.

"It's not competitive at all. I don't even know how they become queen yet," she said.

When she was informed that the last time a princess from Wilson was named Rose Festival Queen was in 2004, she laughed.

"I was two," she said.

www.RoseFestival.org

Bill Gallagher

Editor

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