By Debbie Adams
Ten young women who are seniors at William Byrd High School were nominated as usual by the faculty for the 2020 Dogwood Festival Queen’s Court. Even though regulations regarding COVID-19 have forced the cancellation of the 65th annual festival, the tradition of the Dogwood Queen and Court will continue this year.
The students are usually interviewed by a panel of judges at the Vinton War Memorial on the morning of the Vinton Dogwood Festival Parade, dressed in their beautiful gowns. The judges’ choice for Dogwood Queen is then crowned on the front steps of the War Memorial. All members of the court are honored with a reception following the crowning. The Dogwood Court is then featured on a float in the parade.
According to Susan Teass, the Dogwood Queen’s Court/Reception Coordinator, since the War Memorial is closed due to the coronavirus, the judging for the queen this year will be on May 16 at her home. The students will gather in two groups of five to be interviewed by a panel of three judges; however, the queen will not be announced that day. Instead, “the announcement of the Dogwood Queen will coincide with the Town of Vinton’s 4th of July Festivities on the steps of the Vinton War Memorial on July 4, 2020.” There will also be a reception for the Queen and Court on the 4th — but not a parade.
Dogwood Festival President Connie Houff explained that two members of the Festival Committee Board – Brittany Lane and Callie Houff – were past members of the Dogwood Court and convinced the rest of the committee of the significance of the Dogwood Queen and Court tradition to the town and to the young women involved – and the impact the event has had on their own lives.
The young women vying for the title of Vinton Dogwood Queen 2020 are Maegan Burnette, Caroline Faulkner, Madeleine Glover, Eden Harilla, RoAnna Hylton, Sloane Morton, Kelly O’Connor, Olivia Robertson, Kaleigh Stover, and Kayla Witt.
Maegan Burnette is the daughter of Mary Rowland and Mark Burnette. Her high school activities including Competition and Sideline Cheerleading (where she is a captain), the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Student Service Association, and DECA. Her hobbies are calligraphy and sign language.
Maegan plans to attend Radford University in the fall to study nursing, with the goal of eventually becoming a nurse practitioner. She has been employed as a server at Macado’s.
Caroline Faulkner is the daughter of Jennifer and Daniel Faulkner. She has been a member of the William Byrd Lady Terriers soccer team from freshman through senior years. She has been a member of the yearbook staff for all four years of high school, serving as editor in her junior and senior years. She is a member and treasurer of the Red Cross Club, which she co-founded, a member of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, the Leo Club, and the Prevention Club. She names soccer as her hobby.
Caroline plans to study for her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Longwood University.
She has participated in the annual Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Walk for all four years of high school and made a presentation to the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine about living with Cystic Fibrosis.
Madeleine Glover is the daughter of Karenna and Jack Glover. She is president of the Student Council Association. She plays varsity tennis and is a member of the Leo Club and Red Cross Club (secretary), the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Math Pound, the International Club, the Beta Club, the Student Advisory Club, and the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy. She serves as a Team Terrier Mentor with students at W.E. Cundiff Elementary. Madeleine recently won the Bonsack/Blue Ridge Ruritan scholarship for $1,000.
Madeleine lists her hobbies as calligraphy, embroidery, reading, and volunteering at Carilion Hospital. She has accumulated over 1,000 volunteer hours at Carilion Roanoke Memorial alone as well as being nominated for Volunteer of the Year.
She has held a part-time job since she was 14 years of age and has been on the A Honor Roll since sixth grade.
Madeleine hopes to attend the College of William Mary in the fall to pursue a career as a Neonatal Physicians Assistant.
Eden Harilla is the daughter of Sharon and Joe Harilla. She is a member of Student Council, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Leo Club, the International Club, the Red Cross Club, and the Reindeer Club. She is a member of the Beta Club and the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy. She served as a Junior Marshal for the 2019 graduation and was a member of the 2019 Homecoming Court. She also plays tennis and is a member of the indoor track team.
Her hobbies are journaling/scrapbooking, tennis, photography, and cooking.
Eden plans to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business or International Relations with a minor in Spanish. She has not made a final decision but is leaning toward attending James Madison University. She plans a career in Marketing Management.
RoAnna Hylton is the daughter of Lynne Hylton. She has played on the varsity lacrosse team throughout all four years of high school and served as captain for her junior and senior seasons. She has been a member of the William Byrd Marching Terriers Color Guard for four years and was captain her senior year. She has been a co-host/anchor for Terrier TV in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. She was elected Class President during her senior year.
RoAnna is a member of the Red Cross Club, the International Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club. She was chosen as a member of the 2019 Homecoming Court. Yoga is one of her hobbies.
She plans to attend Roanoke College to major in Health and Exercise Science.
Sloane Morton is the daughter of Tricia Gates and Brad Morton. She participates in track and field and is a member of the History Club. Sloane was chosen for the 2019 Homecoming Court.
Her hobbies are singing, drawing, and reading.
Sloane plans to attend Bridgewater College to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and minor in art or criminal justice.
Kelly O’Connor is the daughter of Mary and Steve O’Connor. She is captain of the varsity soccer team, plays Valley AFC travel soccer, and participates in indoor track. She serves as vice president of the Leo Club, and is a member of Student Voice and the Beta Club. She is an officer on the Student Council Association. Kelly is also a member of Help Save the Next Girl, the Math Pound, the FCA, and DECA Club. She is a member of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy.
Her hobbies are playing sports, reading, hiking, traveling, and water skiing.
Kelly plans to attend James Madison University as a student in the Honors Program where she will study Business with a focus on Finance.
She was selected as William Byrd’s representative for the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Conference. Along with her extracurricular activities, she is very active in her church where she has led a young woman’s retreat and has gone on many mission trips.
Olivia Grace Robertson is the daughter of Matt and Denise Robertson. She is a member of the varsity sideline cheerleading team at William Byrd, serving as team captain during her junior and senior years. She received the “Most Coachable” and “Golden Megaphone” awards. She is also a member of the competition cheerleading team that placed first in region and second in state in 2017 and second in region, fourth in state in 2018.
Robertson is a member of the Symphonic Band, the Prevention Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Leo Club, Help Save the Next Girl, Red Cross, and Student Voice (PBIS) organizations.
She was inducted into the Beta Club, is on the A Honor Roll, and was selected as a Junior Marshal last year. She was also selected for the Team Terrier Mentor Program working with elementary school students at W.E. Cundiff to develop future leaders.
Robertson has volunteered with the Vinton Dogwood 5K for many years and has worked at the Battle at Byrd Cheer 4 a Cure fundraiser for cancer research and programs since sixth grade.
She is an active youth member of Vinton Baptist Church and the youth choir. She is a member of the Student Leadership Team at VBC and recently led worship and delivered the sermon.
Her hobbies are playing piano, babysitting, the Vinton Baptist Youth Choir and mission trips.
Olivia plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall to study Childhood Pre-education and return home to teach elementary school in her community.
Kaleigh Stover is the daughter of Lisa and Dwayne Stover. She is a member of the lacrosse team, the Red Cross Club, the FCCLA, the Leo Club, and the Academic Team.
Her hobbies are reading, spending time with friends and family, and traveling.
She will be attending Virginia Tech where she plans to major in psychology.
Kayla Witt is the daughter of Barry and Sandi Witt. She is a member of the Lady Terrier soccer team, the Beta Club, the Red Cross Club, the International Club, the Reindeer Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes where she is an officer. She has served as head of the Prom Committee.
Her hobbies are calligraphy, babysitting, and volunteering in the special needs community.
She is a member of the youth group at Bonsack Baptist Church.
Kayla plans to attend either James Madison or Liberty University and major in elementary education. She participated in a teacher internship at Mount Pleasant Elementary, which “was a wonderful experience which made the teaching profession a clear choice for me.”