William Byrd High School senior Megan Grant was crowned Dogwood Queen for 2019 at the Vinton War Memorial on April 27.
She was one of 10 seniors at WBHS nominated by members of the faculty for the honor— all exceptional students who also demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities and dedication to community service. Other 2019 nominees were: Olivia Ard, Hallie Chewning, Megan James, Kathryn Letz, Anna McSherry, Maggie Steuart, Emily Wheeler, Emily Anne Woods, and Megan Wu. Th e young women met with a panel of judges on the morning of the Dogwood Festival Parade, who then selected the Dogwood Queen— not an easy task this year, according to the judges.
Grant was crowned by parade Grand Marshal Coach Jeff Highfi ll; her bouquet was presented by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose. Grant is the daughter of Brad and Lori Grant. Her high school activities include varsity softball and varsity basketball. She belongs to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) where she serves as treasurer, and is a member of the Senior Council and Beta Club. Her hobbies include coaching, sports, farming, fi shing, and church activities.
In the future, Grant plans to coach at some point in her life. She would “love to inspire young ladies to chase their dreams.” She said she loves helping people in any scenario, mainly because she loves shining positive light onto other people’s lives when they may not get support from anywhere else. Grant plans to attend Elon College and play softball. She hopes to major in psychology and minor in criminal justice.
She plans to use her degree to become a psychologist or a detective. Joey Nicely, vice president of the Vinton Dogwood Festival, emceed the reception in the Vinton War Memorial Ball Room, which followed the naming of the new queen. Special guests at the reception were Coach Highfi ll and his wife Katie, and the family of Co-Grand Marshal Bootie Chewning with Highfi ll.
Nicely reminded guests that the first Vinton Dogwood Festival was held in 1955 and has become a Vinton tradition. He thanked Dogwood Festival President Connie Houff for her efforts in planning, coordinating, and facilitating the Dogwood Festival for another successful year. He introduced Mayor Grose, who thanked the Susan Teass, chair of the Dogwood Queen and Court Committee, and Assistant Chairpersons Nita Echols and Brenda Dellis.
Grose congratulated new Queen Megan Grant and the members of the Dogwood Court, saying “you have accomplished a lot in life already; you have a bright future ahead.” Grose also spoke of the Dogwood tradition: “Some things have to change; some things never should– like the Dogwood Festival. I hope it can always continue.” Nicely explained the choice of co-grand marshals for the 2019 Parade with its “education and inspiration” theme. He mentioned that Bootie Chewning had been under the weather for a while and wasn’t able to attend the luncheon, but would be riding in the parade, in a convertible driven by her daughter, Angie. He spoke movingly of Chewning, who he has known his entire life, as “an inspiration to the Town of Vinton.” “Bootie has been a cheerleader for the town her whole life,” said Nicely. Chewning has been a teacher, a substitute teacher, and the Vinton representative to the Roanoke County School Board for many years, among many other contributions to the community. Nicely introduced Coach Highfi ll and spoke of the years of his life dedicated to teaching and coaching football and soccer at William Byrd High School, serving as a “coach, educator, and mentor.” He has touched so many lives, teaching “integrity, honor, respect, and sportsmanship.”
Highfi ll told the crowd that it was a “great honor and real privilege to live in Vinton and Roanoke County for 38 years. I hope I touched people in the right way. It’s a huge honor to be a member of this community.” He joked that he had been told a successful coach needed a “good dog, a good quarterback, and a good wife. I hit a homerun with my wife, Katie.” Nicely thanked the sponsors of this year’s Vinton Dogwood Festival who make it possible for the event to take place and continue year after year. Th e reception was catered by Chef Claytor’s Dream on a Plate, owned by Julius Claytor.