By Debbie Adams
The 2023 Vinton Dogwood Queen will be crowned at noon on April 29 at the Municipal Building by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose.
The Dogwood Court is made up of 10 seniors from William Byrd High School who are nominated by the faculty. They are interviewed by a panel of judges the morning of the festival who then select the queen.
The young women vying for this year’s title of Dogwood Queen are Ella Ashworth, Bethany Beecher, Sophia Chrisley, Olivia Hurd, Carsyn Kotz, Lily Jane Kroese, Katelin Patrick, Kristen Patrick, Madeline Simmons, and Bailey Warden.
Scholarships will be presented at the ceremony by the president of the Dogwood Festival, Dr. Jeff Teass. The Dogwood Queen will receive a $750 scholarship. This year Dr. Teass will also be presenting two additional $750 scholarships to the Dogwood Festival website designers who are students at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology, Center for Mass Communications—Cole Genaro and Divya Tennant. (Their instructor is Sara Cubberly.)
This year’s nominees are:
Ella Ashworth is the daughter of Andy and Emily Ashworth. Her high school activities include playing varsity volleyball in grades 10-12, serving as captain her senior year. She was named 1st Team All Blue Ridge District and All Region Honorable Mention for volleyball as a senior, and 2nd Team All Blue Ridge District for volleyball and soccer her junior year. She also plays travel volleyball for the Next Revolution Volleyball Club.
Ella has played varsity soccer throughout her four years of high school. She has been a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) from 9th through 12th grades, serving as an officer this year. She has been a member of student council since her freshman year and is serving as Logistics Officer this year. She has been a member of the Leo Club since her sophomore year, a member of Habitat for Humanity, the International Club, the Prom Committee, the BETA Club, and the Reindeer Club. She has participated in Read Across America Day, reading to students at the elementary school level.
She is one of the valedictorians in the Class of 2023. She recently signed a letter of commitment to continue her athletic career at the collegiate level playing volleyball at Emory and Henry College, while studying pediatric nursing, specializing in oncology.
Her hobbies include volleyball, soccer, working out, and spending time with friends and family.
She is a member of the youth group at Bonsack Baptist Church where she sings in the youth praise band and serves on student council. She was a member of the youth mission trip to the Dominican Republic over spring break in 2022.
Bethany Beecher is the daughter of Grant and Amy Beecher. She transferred in her freshman year after being home-schooled in order to continue her education and play lacrosse.
She is president of the FCA and captain of the WBHS women’s lacrosse team. She is a member of the BETA Club, Leo Club, and Outdoor Club, and runs cross-country. She earned the privilege of attending Virginia Girls State and qualified for the Regional Science Fair at Virginia Western Community College in her junior year.
Her hobbies are hiking, crocheting, gardening, working on a farm on weekends, attending church, and spending time with friends and family, which includes four siblings.
Bethany plans to attend college to study agriculture with a minor in political science.
Sophia Chrisley is the daughter of Mark and Marci Chrisley. She plays varsity basketball and soccer at William Byrd. She is a member of the BETA Club, the Leo Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Reindeer Club, and the Extra Mile Club, and is a Senior Class representative.
Her hobbies include soccer, basketball, traveling, reading, golfing with her father, and spending time with friends and family.
Sophia plans to attend a four-year university to major in Applied Mathematics for a career as a data analyst.
“Playing soccer has given me the opportunity to travel to Europe twice to compete in international tournaments,” Sophia says. “These trips and experiences were the beginnings of my love for travel. It also gave me the chance to engage in other cultures and meet new people.”
Olivia Hurd is the daughter of Chris and Taressa Hurd. Her high school activities include cross-country, indoor and outdoor track, and lacrosse. She is a member of the FCA and BETA Clubs. She was named Homecoming Queen for 2022.
Her hobbies are running, hiking, Crossfit, and “being crafty.”
Olivia has signed a letter of intent with Virginia Military Institute (VMI) to run track at the Division I collegiate level. She plans to study political science with hopes of pursuing a career with the FBI.
“I run in the name of my grandfather, Mike Gibson, who sparked my love for the sport,” Hurd said. (Gibson founded the girls track and cross-country team at a Florida high school, was the driving force behind the first girls state track meet there, and was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.)
Carsyn Kotz is the daughter of Mitchell and Shawna Kotz. She was captain of the varsity volleyball team and was named 1st Team All District and All-Region, and Blue Ridge Volleyball Player of the Year. She is an officer in the DECA Club, president of the International Club, and a member of the SCA and BETA Clubs.
Her hobbies include exercising, babysitting, and spending time with her family.
She plans to attend Virginia Tech and study Elementary Education. She works at Carilion Wellness as a nursery attendant and front desk attendant.
Lily Jane Kroese is the daughter of Lori and Theo Kroese. She is a member of William Byrd’s Leo Club, Habitat for Humanity Club, and BETA Club. She has been a member of the WBHS choir for five years and has been named to All-District Choir for the past two years. She is an artist and has taken part in selling art pieces at the RVSPCA “Best in Show” fundraiser with proceeds going to the Roanoke Valley SPCA.
Her hobbies are reading, painting, dancing, singing, and baking. She has been dancing at Floyd Ward School of Dance for 14 years and was in the Ensemble for two years.
She plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University to major in Biology with a path to pre-Veterinary Sciences. Her end goal is to be a lead veterinary surgeon.
Kroese volunteers at the Roanoke Valley SPCA where she trains with the animals and assists in their daily care.
Katelin Patrick is the daughter of Keith and Ginny Lynn Patrick. Her high school activities include serving as Commanding Officer of the Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) at WBHS, being a member of Student Voices, and the SCA. She has played on the school’s volleyball and soccer teams for four years and also participated in outdoor track during her junior year.
She is an active member of the Bonsack Baptist Church Youth Student Council and a member of the Praise Band. She volunteers with her family and Sunday School class to provide dinners at Straight Street for local teens who mostly reside in downtown Roanoke. She volunteered at the non-profit Friendship House last year to help prepare a newly acquired house for two refugee families. In March 2022, Patrick traveled to the Dominican Republic with her church youth group, helping with “Phase One” of the construction project of a local school. They also distributed food and other personal need items to Haitian refugees.
Katelin attended the Burton Center for Arts and Technology cosmetology program in grades 9-11 and passed her State Board Cosmetology License in August 2022.
She also attended the State Trooper’s Youth Academy in July 2022 where she received the Jessica Channey Memorial Award for “exemplifying great leadership skills.”
Katelin received Early Acceptance into VMI where she will begin her studies on July 5, 2023. Her goals are to graduate in 2027 with a major in Psychology and a minor in International Studies with a Concentration in National Security. She hopes to work for the FBI as a Special Agent.
Katelin is a triplet with brother Justin and sister Kristen (also a member of the Dogwood Court this year). They also have an older brother.
“We all grew up here in Vinton and our mom would dress us up like ‘Bees’ to look like the Herman L. Horn Elementary School’s mascot,” Katelin notes.
Kristen Patrick is the daughter of Keith and Ginny Lynn Patrick. She is a member of the BETA Club, the FCA, and has served this year as the “Terrier Mascot.” The Terrier Mascot dresses up in costume to cheer on the crowds at WBHS events such as pep rallies, football games, and at the beginning of the school year at the Berglund Center for the teachers’ welcome back to school invocation ceremony.
She is an artist in graphite drawing and ink, creating artwork which she donates to the Roanoke Valley SPCA, and its annual “Best in Show” fundraiser which raises money to care for the dogs and cats they serve.
Kristen is a member of the Bonsack Youth Student Council and a member of the Praise Band. She and her family, along with their Sunday School class, provide dinners at Straight Street for local teens who mostly reside in downtown Roanoke. She volunteered in April 2022 at the non-profit Friendship House in preparing a newly acquired home for two refugee families. She has also taken part in international missions over spring break in 2022, traveling to the Dominican Republic with her Bonsack Baptist Church youth group to assist in construction of a local school— they built walls to expand the existing building and painted the interior of a new youth center. They also provided supplies to Haitian refugees.
Kristen plans to attend Virginia Western Community College in the fall to pursue a degree in Radiology and then continue college to obtain a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) certification.
“I have a love for learning about biology, particularly anatomy and physiology,” Kristen says. “I find the human body fascinating and I want a career that offers that same level of joy as well.”
Another goal is to adopt as many rescue greyhounds as she can.
“I currently have two greyhounds that I absolutely adore named Beamer and Kit-Kat and I want to continue helping out that rescue foundation.”
Madeline “Maddy” Simmons is the daughter of Brian and Samantha Simmons. She has played on the girls varsity soccer team from freshman through her senior years. She recently signed a letter of intent to continue her soccer career at Emory and Henry College, while majoring in nursing to become a pediatric nurse.
She has also run indoor track and field for three years in high school, except for the COVID year when she was a sophomore. She is a member of the FCA, serving as a representative in her senior year. She was nominated and chosen by the faculty and fellow students to be the Dog Pound leader this year. She is also a BETA Club member.
Her hobbies include sports, church, FCA, painting, and singing.
“I am heavily involved in the church with teaching pre-K and as a worship leader for the kids,” Maddy said. “I also am a volunteer with my church on the worship team on the technology side. I have worked as a soccer official all four years through high school. This past year I became a lifeguard and worked at Fallon Park pool and the Lancerlot.”
Her hobbies, outside of sports, include painting, singing, and spending quality time with her friends and family.
Bailey Warden is the daughter of Denise and Steve Sartell and Matt Warden. She has served as a member of the Roanoke County Student Advisory Council since 2018, which aids in the communication between students, school administration, the School Board, and the community. She is a member of the Leo Club and SCA. She is also a member of Student Voices which helps create a positive school environment, volunteers as a Byrd Buddy working with students with disabilities, and is a member of the BETA Club academic honor society.
Her hobbies are riding horses, working with and training animals, and shooting rifles and pistols at the range.
She has been on a competitive riding team for five years and won National Reserve Champion on her Athletic Equestrian League team. She has been working on a farm here in Vinton since she was 13 years old. An interesting fact is that she has a pet cow named Brie, short for Brinlie.
Bailey plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall, majoring in Dairy Science. She plans to follow her undergraduate studies by attending the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and eventually open her own large animal practice.
Once again, the Dogwood Queen and Court will be riding in carriages in the Vinton Dogwood Festival Parade, starting off from the Vinton War Memorial at 2:30 p.m. and continuing down Washington Avenue and through the streets of downtown Vinton.