La Cañada schools took a turn in the limelight Monday, when two students from La Cañada High School and one from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy were announced among the seven members of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 2018 Royal Court.
Friends since seventh grade, Spartan seniors Georgia Cervenka and Julianne Lauenstein shared the dais in an announcement ceremony Monday morning at Pasadena's Tournament House. They were selected from 37 finalists representing area schools and an initial applicant pool that included nearly 1,000 hopefuls.
Also named to this year's Royal Court was FSHA senior Alexandra Altura, a resident of Pasadena. As members of the court, all three local students will ride in the 129th Rose Parade on New Year's Day and attend the 104th annual Rose Bowl game that follows.
The princesses also have a chance at becoming the 100th Rose Queen to be named by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, in a ceremony to take place Oct. 18 at the Pasadena Playhouse. But on Monday, the young women roundly agreed making it this far in the competition was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I'm in shock — I really did not expect this whatsoever, so it's a nice surprise," said Cervenka after the announcement. "It's honestly unreal."
A member of the La Cañada Flintridge Youth Council and the LCHS Concert Choir, and captain of the school's varsity girls basketball team, Cervenka said the four rounds of interviews finalists underwent helped her think more about her own values.
"That made me learn a lot about myself," she said of the process.
Cheering her on were father John and mom Kerry. Kerry Cervenka brought a special memento with her, a Tournament of Roses tag from 1978 identifying her as one of 25 Royal Court finalists that year. Her number, 672, was just one digit's difference from her daughter's No. 692.
"It's such an honor to represent the community," Kerry Cervenka said of her daughter's accomplishment. "She's grown up watching the Rose Parade all her life."
"We're both so excited," added John Cervenka. "We are blown away — this is so special."
Lauenstein, a trained dancer and member of the LCHS French Club who volunteers for Huntington Memorial Hospital and the Glendale chapter of the National Charity League, said she hoped Monday's win would make grandmother Donna Wright proud.
"She's always wanted me to try out. I'm the only girl in my whole family, out of all boys, so this is a big deal," she said, before adding with a smile, "I am the princess."
Wright, who came from Valencia for the ceremony, recalled riding in the 1958 Rose Parade as Miss Van Nuys and said she was thrilled her granddaughter would continue a family tradition.
"I'm just elated for her. It's such an honor, and she's done all the right things," Wright said. "We have 10 grandsons and one granddaughter — so she is a princess."
The other members of the 2018 Royal Court are: Savannah Bradley from Pasadena High School; La Salle High School's Isabella Marez; and Sydney Pickering and Lauren Buehner of Arcadia High School.
"These young ladies represent the best of today's youth and tomorrow's leaders," said Queen and Court Committee Chair Dave Link, explaining this year's Rose Parade theme of "Making a Difference." "They are scholars, athletes and musicians, they are tutors mentors and volunteers — and the best part of all is they have only just begun."
Artura, a National Hispanic Scholar and member of the National Honor Society who run's on FSHA's cross-country team, pondered the theme in a Tournament release issued Monday.
"Making a difference means changing something for the better, not only for myself but for others and for my community," she said. "What matters is that we have helped someone to better their own lives, and hopefully that change is a long-term one."