Junior Orange Bowl crowns Royal Court for 2011-12

By Alex Markel….

Members of the 2011-12 Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court are (l-r) Princess Monet McFarlane, Queen Mikayla Panariello and Princess Tiffany Rivera.

The CocoPlum Women’s Club in Coral Gables was host to an afternoon of glamour and royalty when the Junior Orange Bowl recently named its 2011-12 Royal Court Queen and Princesses.

Mikayla Panariello, 14, was crowned Royal Court Queen as Tiffany Rivera, 13, and Monet McFarlane, 13, were crowned the two Princesses to round out the Royal Court. Two Royal Court alternates also were named. They are Kayla Gallego, a ninth grader at Pembroke Pines Charter High School, and Hannah Jelen, an eighth grader at Devon Aire K-8 Center.

The Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court will preside over all of the 2011-12 Festival events and will play a special part in the 63rd annual parade on Jan. 2, 2012, as they ride in a float through downtown Coral Gables.

A record 29 finalists were chosen from four preliminaries across Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties to vie for the Junior Orange Bowl crown. Former Junior Orange Bowl Queen and current 2011 Miss Universe contestant Anastagia Pierre was the emcee for the event. The finalists were judged on a variety of different aspects such as personality, academics, community service, and poise.

“This 61-year-old tradition is so much more than a beauty pageant” said Isa Goenaga, chair of the JOBC Royal Court Committee. “The girls are selected based on personality, poise, and a desire to be involved in community service. It was a very tough decision by the judges as all of the contestants were excellent candidates.”

Queen Mikayla, a freshman at Somerset Academy, is a member of the Key Club and the Science Honor Society. Aside from her academic achievements, Mikayla volunteers much of her time to the Shriners Organization and the American Cancer Society. She also is an accomplished dancer, focusing on ballet and modern dance.

“I am very proud to have Mikayla represent the Junior Orange Bowl as the 2011-12 Royal Court Queen” Goenaga said. “She exemplifies all of the qualities the judges were looking for and I am looking forward to her making an impact in the community as the JOBC Royal Court Queen.”

Princess Tiffany is the school ambassador at St. Bonaventure Catholic School and has a strong passion for dance. Tiffany is involved in many volunteer activities including the American Cancer Society and Best Buddies. She also has started a Soldier Wall Project where teenagers can write letters and send care packages to service members. Tiffany is taking an active stand against cyber bullying and is avid in creating awareness about this serious issue.

“I have worked for this honorable position for two years and I am proud to be stepping into the spotlight as [the] ambassador for the Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court,” Rivera said. “I am given the chance to be an inspiration to other teenage girls.”

Princess Monet, an eighth grade student at Coral Springs Middle School, is on the cheerleading squad as well as the volleyball and basketball teams.

“The day was a dream come true from beginning to end,” McFarlane said. “I am looking forward to making a difference in the community and being an ambassador for the Junior Orange Bowl.”

Monet volunteers with Kids in Distress, the United Way and Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse.

The Junior Orange Bowl Royal Court crowned Kara Powell, an eighth grader at Miami Lakes Middle School, “Miss Congeniality.” Her fellow Royal Court finalists nominated Kara for her vibrant attitude and outgoing personality backstage throughout the Royal Court Search Final.

Emily O’Connor won the “Give-A-Hand” award. O’Connor, a seventh grader at Key Largo School, won the award for writing the most outstanding essay during the competition.

“Our goal is to encourage these young ladies to be future leaders and role models in our community,”: Goenaga said. “The event is a wonderful experience for all young girls. Not only do they gain selfesteem, confidence, and compassion, but they learn the importance of selflessly serving the community.”

Many of the girls who participate in the Royal Court Search discover their passions in life and go on to pursue them; becoming prominent figures in society. Past winners have gone on to become successful businesswomen as well as influential community leaders.

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.

The Junior Orange Bowl Committee Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that serves the community of South Florida and the youth of the world by providing opportunities for wholesome, competitive and multicultural experiences.

For more information on the Junior Orange Bowl Committee, call 305-662- 1210 or visit the website at www.jrorangebowl.org.

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