The three young ladies chosen to reign over the 2010-11 Junior Orange Bowl Festival are Queen Leia Schwartz, 14, and Princesses Valerie Katz and Sloane Rice, also 14. Together, they make up the Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court.
The queen and princesses of the 2010-11 Junior Orange Bowl Festival are expected to reign over all the events, especially the 62nd Junior Orange Bowl Parade on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. During the festival, the Royal Court will participate in various award ceremonies and serve as goodwill ambassadors to all the youths participating in the festival’s events.
The Royal Court’s duties culminate during the annual Junior Orange Bowl Parade, where the queen and princesses will ride on a float through the streets of Downtown Coral Gables.
The Royal Court finals took place at the Miami Elks Lodge No. 948, and this year there were a record-breaking 26 finalists. All Royal Court finalists were chosen from one of the three preliminary selections in order to qualify for the final. The finalists were judged on a variety of different aspects such as personality, academics, community service, and poise.
“This 60-year-old tradition is much more than a beauty pageant,” said Enid Miguez, chair of the JOB Royal Court.
Queen Leia, who attends Coral Reef Senior High School, has been an NBC6 News “High School Athlete of the Week” as well as a Jeopardy! Kids Search National Finalist. In addition to her academic and athletic accomplishments, she is a very talented singer and songwriter, helping to raise over $100,000 as a featured performer for a number of different charity events.
Leia has been a poster child for the American Lung Association for nine years and teaches golf to kids who suffer from Down Syndrome. She also is in the process of growing her hair out for the fourth time to donate it to Locks of Love, a non-profit charity that makes wigs for youths who have lost their hair due to medical conditions.
“I am looking forward to representing the Junior Orange Bowl Committee in all their events and doing everything I can to help the kids,” Leia said after being crowned queen.
She also was the winner of the “Give-A-Hand” Award, which was given to the finalist who wrote the most outstanding essay on community service commitment.
“As you can see from her involvement in the community, Leia Schwartz is the perfect candidate for this award. I am extremely proud of her and truly amazed with her level of commitment to the community,” Miguez said.
Princess Valerie Katz, a student at MAST Academy, is an accomplished artist and debater along with being a member of the MAST Academy swimming and water polo teams. She received the only Gold Key in her age group at the 2010 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her excellence in visual arts.
“I am so grateful to be crowned princess and I look forward to the lifelong relationships I will make,” Valerie said.
Princess Sloane Rice, a ninth grader at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, is on the varsity swim team and a devoted member of the Key Club. She also is part of her church’s youth group, which takes monthly volunteer trips to the Homeless Assistance Center.
“I was so happy when I heard my name called and I can’t wait to interact and help youths with disabilities,” Sloane said.
The Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court also named Briana Paiewonsky, a student at Killian High School, this year’s Miss Congeniality. Her fellow Royal Court finalists nominated Briana for her vibrant attitude and outgoing personality backstage throughout the Royal Court Search final.
Many of the young ladies who participate in the Royal Court Final end up discovering their passions in life and go on to pursue them, becoming prominent figures in society. The JOBC hopes to encourage the young ladies to be future leaders in the community and open the doors to a brighter future.
Past winners have become successful businesswomen as well as influential community leaders.
Sponsors for the Royal Court Search include: Alberto Romeu Photography, Aon Private Risk Management, Coral Gables Firefighters’ Benevolent Association, Cookies by Design, GBS Beauty Supply, Miami’s Community Newspapers, Miami Elks Lodge No. 948, Slesnick & Associates, Snow’s Jewelers, The Giving Tree, and YW Associates.
The Junior Orange Bowl Festival is possible with the support of the City of Coral Gables, Miami Children’s Hospital, Orange Bowl Committee, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Affairs Council, Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council, Miami-Dade County Mayor,and Board of County Commissioners.
For more information, call the Junior Orange Bowl Committee at 305-662-1210 or visit the website at www.jrorangebowl.org.