Princess Danielle Harper, who said she has watched throughout the years and always wanted to participate in the Azalea Court, has discovered that there is more to it than it appeared when she wasn't a participant.
"There's a lot of difference. I don't think the public knows all we go through, speech classes, etiquette classes, appearances." But she isn't complaining. "It's nice to be recognized," she said. "People say, oh you're one of the princesses.'"
The reaction of little girls is the best. "My mom's a preschool teacher, and the little girls make me feel like a super star."
Danielle is editor of the Brookings Harbor High School paper, the Bearagonian, and, although she has enjoyed her three years in journalism classes, she is heading toward a career in medicine, she said.
But, first, she plans to spend four years in the U.S. Coast Guard, maybe even more. With her sights set on a career in a medical field, she looks forward to becoming an Emergency Medical Technician in the service. "I want to be on search and rescue, like a paramedic," she said.
She isn't sure just how far she will go in medicine, maybe even become a doctor. She said she's joining the Coast Guard for training and money for college. "And to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people."
However, she didn't sign up alone. Danielle and her friend, Jamie Klein, are going into the service on the "buddy system," she said. "We'll be in boot camp together, to support each other."
They will ship out the last week in November to boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey, for eight weeks, followed by a week's leave, and nine weeks of basic training. She said they have a guaranteed district on southwest coast, but the base has to be a certain number of miles from home.
"I chose the Coast Guard because I really love the Coast Guard, and the guys say it's more like a family."
When asked what the greatest influence has been on her life, she said without hesitation, "My mom. She's the greatest and has supported me in anything I want to do. She's 40 going on 15 and she's really fun to hang out with."
But, Danielle also admitted to being a "Daddy's Girl," which was the title of her final speech during the Toastmasters' Speechcraft sessions, in which she told about doing all the outdoor sports, like snow boarding, jet skiing, fishing, hunting, and motorcycle riding, with her father, David Harper.
Growing up with one sister, Cassie, who is 15, the household will have some big changes when her mother, who is engaged, marries Doug Hodges, who has five boys.
Another of Danielle's favorite subjects is art, whether it's pencil, pen, pastels, water colors, or 3-D art, all of classes with art teacher, Chuck Fenner. For her part in the pageant talent show she will be using graphic art to prepare a slide show, which will be a tribute to the American soldiers, she said.
Danielle also enjoys her job at the Buzz Bean where she has worked for two years, and plans to keep working until she leaves town.
One of the best things about being a princess, Danielle said, is getting to know the other princesses. "All of us really get along. We all came in kind of quiet." That changed along the way as they got to know each other better, she said. "We all have fun together and we don't argue about much."
Danielle said the Toastmaster's experience of getting up in front of people has been very good. "It's very different when you get up in front of a lot of people," she admitted.
Her advice to younger girls interested in becoming a princess is, "Don't do it if you just want a tiara. You don't know how much goes into it. You definitely need to be prepared."