By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Dogwood Queen will be crowned at noon on April 24 by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose on the stage at the Vinton Municipal Building. The Dogwood Court is made up of 10 young women who are seniors at William Byrd High School and nominated by the faculty for the 2021 Dogwood Festival Queen’s Court.
Members of the Dogwood Court will be interviewed by a panel of judges the morning of the event. They will choose the Dogwood Queen.
The young women vying for the title of Vinton Dogwood Queen 2021 are Urunna Anyanwu, Amna Becirevic, Grayce Dantzler, Ellen Frary, Caroline Gibbs, Kasey McKee, Natalie Mullins, Elizabeth Recktenwald, Erin Taylor, and Reagan Tuck.
William Byrd Principal Tammy Newcomb commented, “The girls selected are all worthy of the title of Dogwood Queen. They have been exemplary students while students at William Byrd High School.”
Urunna Anyanwu is the daughter of Chinekwu and Benjamin Anyanwu. Her high school activities include Speech and Debate, the Sketches Literary Magazine, the Knitting Club, Girls Who Code, and the Beta Club. Her hobbies include drawing and painting, knitting, coding, and acting (related to speech and debate).
Anyanwu was recently selected as a National Silver Medalist in the 2021 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program. She placed first at the debate Super Regions in Humorous Interpretation and second in the state competition. She plans to make a career in the web-development or a similar field to combine her creative side and love for technology together. Aside from that, she says she generally hopes to make a name for herself with her artwork, both inside and outside of further education. She sells commissions and prints of her artwork.
Amna Becirevic is the daughter of Edin and Denana Becirevic. Her high school activities have included four years of varsity basketball and volleyball. She is a member of the DECA Club, the Beta Club, the Leo Club, and the Reindeer Club. Her hobbies include volleyball, basketball, working, community service, hiking, painting, and tutoring.
Becirevic plans to study accounting at Virginia Tech and continue for her Master’s degree. To follow that later on, she plans to pass the CPA. Her plan is to one day be a bank audit accountant.
She and her family are from Bosnia and she can speak, read, and write five different languages.
Grayce Dantzler is the daughter of David and Alyce Dantzler. Her high school activities have included four years of varsity volleyball, indoor track, the FCA, Beta Club, DECA, and the Red Cross Club. She has served as Senior Class vice president, and on student council. She was chosen by her peers as a member of Senior Court.
Her hobbies include volleyball, horseback riding, and spending time with her family.
Dantzler will be attending Virginia Tech to study Animal Science. She will then apply to the Virginia Tech veterinary school in hopes of becoming a veterinarian. She loves volunteering and helping other people. She lists as a “fun fact” that she is colorblind.
Ellen Frary is the daughter of John and Amy Frary. Her high school activities include dance with the Star City School of Ballet, Mill Mountain Theatre, and the Virginia Summer 2019 Residential Governor’s School in Performing Arts and Dance; Voice coaching with Calliope Studios; Theatre/Dance/Voice with Mill Mountain Theatre Conservatory and the Burton Center for Performing Arts.Her performances have included: Mill Mountain Theatre’s 2019 “The Sound of Music” (as Liesl), and 2020 Summer Zoomsical “High School Musical” (as Gabriella). She was also in the WBHS Player’s 2018 “Wizard of Oz” (as Scarecrow and as the choreographer). She appeared in the Burton Center for Performing Arts “The Adam’s Family” and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
Frary is also a member of the Beta Club and Student Voice, a camp counselor, and worked with Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church in the Camp Possible program. Her hobbies are guitar and ukulele, photography, sewing/costuming, and Art/Design.
Frary plans to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre and hopes to perform on a regional and hopefully national level. She says that like many musical theatre students, her dream is Broadway, but she knows (or at least thinks she knows) how challenging a life in theatre can be, and that there is much more to a musical theatre career than Broadway. She is interested in cinema arts and how theatre is moving into digital as well. Short term, she hopes to explore all possibilities that “make sense for me as a performer.” She hopes that her decisions and direction will help her stay in touch with who she is and why she chose to follow her passion and career in the performing arts. At some point in her career, she would like to be involved in performing arts education. Some of her most rewarding experiences in the performing arts have involved working with children. She says those opportunities meant so much to her because she knows what a difference the performing arts can make in a young person’s life. Throughout elementary school, Frary didn’t realize she was dyslexic, so school could be stressful. With dance, everything made sense to her. Later in middle and high school, musical theatre changed her life direction. She says the performing arts have helped her learn teamwork, time management, and accountability. They have helped her build creativity, discipline, and confidence. During the darkest, most frustrating times, the arts have helped her understand and love herself. She wants to help others experience that as well.
Caroline Gibbs is the daughter of Sharon and William Gibbs. She is president of the Leo Club and Byrd Buddies at William Byrd and an officer in DECA. She is a member of the FCA, plays varsity lacrosse, and is a Dog Pound leader.
Her hobbies are playing lacrosse and volleyball. She loves being outside—hiking, fishing, kayaking—and being with friends.
She will be attending Wingate University to major in Nursing.
Gibbs is also a youth leader at Vinton Baptist Church, and a member of the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club.
Kasey McKee is the daughter of Mark and Kim McKee. Her high school activities include DECA, the Leo Club, the American Red Cross Club, the FCA, being a member of the Team Terrier mentoring program, and a member of the Homecoming Court.
Her hobbies include volleyball, church, shopping, lifting/working out, babysitting, and working with children.
She plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall to study Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the HNFE program. After graduation, she plans to go to Physician’s Assistant school for two more years and become a Physician’s Assistant.
As for interesting facts, McKee was named after her grandmothers. “Kasey” was her grandmother’s maiden name and “Lillian” (her middle name) was her other grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s middle name.
Natalie Mullins is the daughter of Tommy and Laurie Mullins. She has been the editor-in-chief of the school yearbook, the “Black Swan,” president of the SCA, and co-founder and president of the American Red Cross Club. She is a member of the Team Terrier mentor program, captain of the Academic Team, historian of the Leo Club, and captain of the varsity tennis team. She is also a member of the FCA. She is a member of the Roanoke County Public Schools Student Advisory Council (SAC), a DECA officer, a Middle School Tennis Club volunteer, and a Beta Club member.
Her hobbies include travel, reading, watching hockey, playing tennis, supporting Byrd sports teams, and photography.
Mullins plans to attend a four-year university and double major in journalism and business.
She lists as interesting facts that she is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs Hockey season ticket holder and Booster Club member, and a member of Bedrock Roanoke Community Church.
Elizabeth Recktenwald is the daughter of John and Paulette Recktenwald. Her high school activities at William Byrd have included cross country, swim team, and outdoor track all four years. She has been captain of the cross-country team her junior and senior years and swim team captain her senior year. She has been a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) all four years, serving as president and music coordinator her senior year and an officer as a junior. She is First Chair French Horn in Symphonic Band (all four years) and a member of the Beta Club.
Her hobbies include music (playing piano, keyboard, acoustic guitar, cajon box drum, and French horn,) making TikTok videos (with 38,000 followers), running, hiking, skiing, photography, sewing, and embroidery.
Recktenwald aspires to be a medical doctor. She plans to major in business and pre-health. She has been accepted at UVA, Virginia Tech, Baylor, and JMU and is waiting for decisions from two other schools. She is active in the youth group at Bonsack Baptist Church. She has been a member of the youth group since seventh grade and served in other states on mission trips. She has played keyboard in the Bonsack Baptist Youth Praise Band since her freshman year. She is lead singer in the youth band this year. She has been elected to the Bonsack Baptist Youth Council every year since seventh grade. She leads worship songs on guitar at FCA meetings.
Erin Taylor is the daughter of Kari and David Taylor. At William Byrd she has been a member of the Red Cross Club (co-founder), the Prevention Club, Student Council Association, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Math Pound, Latin Club, Habitat for Humanity Club, and a Team Terrier Mentor. She has participated in volleyball and cross country, and the Academic Team. She is a Carilion Clinic Emergency Department volunteer. She was named as DAR Good Citizen for 2021.
Taylor’s hobbies include running, yoga, cooking, reading, journaling, and coloring.
She remains undecided on which college to attend but plans to attend a four-year university and major in Nutrition. After undergraduate school, she will work either as a dietitian for a few years and then attend medical school or apply directly to med school after graduation. She would eventually like to become a dermatologist.
Taylor says she is an only child, so she loves spending time with her dog since that’s her “sibling.” She also loves vacationing in Emerald Isle during the summer and for long weekends.
Reagan Tuck is the daughter of Kevin and Melissa Tuck. Her high school activities have included volleyball from eighth grade through senior year. She is a member of the DECA Club, FCA, Red Cross Club, Reindeer Club, and Beta Club. She was chosen by her peers as Senior Court Queen recently.
Her hobbies include volleyball and caring for children.
She plans to attend Virginia Tech and major in Public Health with plans to go on to physical therapy school.