Jackie DeShaye, 16, has always looked up to the Capital Lakefair royalty.
She’s been in the Lakefair parade a few times, and she said she has always looked up to the tiara-clad teens who spend a year representing Thurston County at events all over the state.
But now the Olympia High School junior is royalty herself. She was crowned this year’s Capital Lakefair queen Saturday night at a coronation held at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia.
“I got the chance to enter, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” DeShaye said. “I didn’t really think I’d win.”
DeShaye is joined on the Lakefair court by four princesses: Erin Hobbs of Timberline High School, Rachel Pierson of North Thurston High School, Hailey Sanne of Tumwater High School and Tyjai Shaw of South Sound High School.
The five winners were selected from 11 contestants, all of whom were high school juniors. The young women were required to have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher to enter, along with two letters of recommendation. They were judged on 500-word essays, interviews with judges, three-minute speeches and their answers to a final question.
Each candidate was awarded a $500 scholarship for participating. Princesses each received a $3,000 scholarship, and the queen received a $5,000 scholarship.
The contestants delivered their speeches to the crowd awaiting the coronation. About 200 people — friends, family and Capitalarians — watched. Jerry Farmer, who served as emcee for the event, said he had never seen so many people attend a coronation.
In her speech, DeShaye talked about how she wants to live both a happy and successful life. She asked the audience three questions: What defines a successful life? What defines a happy life? Why aren’t happiness and success always viewed as the same thing?
She recalled having hard time learning algebra in eighth grade. A teacher told her that the grades on her tests didn’t matter as much as her continuing to try — that he would rather she learn perseverance than algebraic formulas.
“To me, perseverance is one of the greatest character traits a person can possess,” DeShaye said.
She concluded that perseverance was the best tool to finding a happy and successful life.
Other contestants talked about the trials they had endured throughout their lives, and the opportunities they had to help others.
Hobbs described her battle with depression, and the realization that she was happiest when helping others. Pierson talked about her passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and how she enjoys teaching children. Sanne told of a mission trip to Belize. Shaw described her experience with homelessness, and her decision to succeed in life.
“You can be anything you want, because only you dictate what you do,” Shaw said.
This year’s contestants were joined onstage by last year’s court — Queen Madeline Poultridge and princesses Julia Holder, Clarissa Jenkins, Emily Grahn and Olivia Wittenberg — who described their year serving as Lakefair royalty.
Highlights included being in 16 parades, attending the Life Skills Prom and eating carnival food.
DeShaye said that for the next year, she hopes to serve as a role model for girls. Her role model is Barbra Streisand.
“I’m proof that anyone can do it if they try hard enough,” DeShaye said.