The whole princess thing takes some getting used to, but by now Julianne Lauenstein is comfortable with it. Her La Cañada High School classmate Georgia Cervenka is getting close.
Both young women were named to the 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court in October and have since attended dozens of functions, serving enthusiastically with five others on the court as ambassadors for the organization and for the Pasadena area.
Lauenstein, who’s eyeing a career in medicine, had some practice. She’s also spent 2017 as a member of the Miss La Cañada Flintridge court, attending dozens of local functions and serving as an ambassador for her hometown and its Chamber of Commerce.
Cervenka is an aspiring engineer and basketball star who, like Lauenstein, has been a dedicated volunteer and difference-maker in her community.
They’ve both grown up watching the Rose Parade, paying special attention to the Royal Court. And yet, neither of them expected she’d be on it.
“I never imagined,” Lauenstein said. “I always thought, ‘Wow, [the princesses] are so beautiful!’ And they always seemed so tall to me. I’d look up to them and think, ‘No way, I’ll ever be one of them.’”
“Same with me,” Cervenka said. “I’ve known princesses before, so we’ve seen them in the parade, but I don’t think the thought crossed my mind that I would be on the court. I admired them, but I never thought I’d be one.”
But people who know them were not nearly as surprised.
“Oh my gosh, she’s wonderful, such a delight — and I don’t use that term flippantly,” said Katherine Markgraf, who each year helps select the LCF court, which in 2005 produced a Rose Court queen in LCHS senior Ashley Moreno.
“I do mean it about Julie,” Markgraf continued. “She’s a unique young lady and she has this quiet confidence that comes through. Rather than being precocious and in-your-face, she holds back and waits for her moment and all of a sudden, she will come forth with a really funny comment or something really thoughtful. There is quite a smart brain behind that well-rounded young lady.”
LCHS girls’ basketball coach Sarah Beattie is equally pleased to see her team captain take to the Rose Court.
“I’m really proud of her and excited for her, and I swear, I’m not even trying to give you a sound bite, but Georgia is the best person I could think of to have this opportunity and represent our school and our team,” said Beattie, whose older sister, Lauren, was a member of the Rose Court in 1999. “Georgia is just an all-around amazing person.”
Cervenka and Lauenstein are part of a court that also includes Flintridge Sacred Heart High School’s Alexandra Artura, Arcadia High School’s Lauren Buehner and Sydney Pickering, Pasadena High School’s Savannah Bradley and La Salle High School’s Isabella Marez — the 100th queen in Rose Court history.
Together, the young women who were tabbed to participate in one of Pasadena’s most prestigious traditions have made history: For the first time, the members of the Rose Court have used their platform to promote a charity of their choice. They’ve made multiple visits to the Elizabeth House, shining a light on the nonprofit that provides housing and support to homeless or at-risk expectant mothers.
“As a court, we all voted,” Cervenka said. “We wanted something that was local, obviously, and then helping women was a big thing that we wanted, so it checked all of our boxes.”
It’s natural for members of the court to feel inclined to give back.
For Cervenka, that includes participation in LCHS’s Best Buddies club, as a member of the LCF Youth Council, with the Girl Scouts and National Charity League. Lauenstein has volunteered on the surgical recovery floor at Huntington Memorial Hospital, is a National Charity League member and her duties as a member of the Miss LCF court.
“I’m always bouncing back and forth, switching crowns,” said Lauenstein, whose has had to skip some LCF events on account of her role with the Tournament as Roses. “The girls [on the LCF court] are great, they’re very supportive. I haven’t been to a lot of the events recently, and they’ve been really nice about me missing things.”
Cervenka has had a similar experience with her Spartan basketball teammates, whom she has checked in on often as they’ve gotten off to a 7-2 start this season without her.
“A couple of them didn’t believe it when I said I was making it through, they were like, ‘No way, you didn’t make it to the next round!’ And then they were all so excited when I got it,” Cervenka said. “They’ve all been really supportive, and that’s helping a lot because I really want to be there.”
There have been other sacrifices as well, including TV and sleep. Cervenka and Lauenstein both have accounts of arriving early and staying late at school in order to keep up with their work.
And then there’s that “princess” thing.
“My friends at schools are like, ‘Princess!’” Cervenka said. “And I’m still not totally used to it.”
“I’ll turn around now,” said Lauenstein, who’s started to be recognized regularly in LCF. “I have to look nice when I go to the grocery store!”
No surprise to their fans in LCF, this year’s Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet says the crowns fit this year’s group delightfully.
“I’ve had the benefit of being involved in several courts, being on the Queen and Court Committee, and they’re all remarkable, but this court stands out for this aspect: Many of them, if not all of them, were attracted by the theme [“Making a Difference”] and an opportunity to give back and make a difference in a larger way than they had been able to formally,” Tibbet said.
“And they’ve taken that very seriously. I’m very proud of them for partnering with Elizabeth House and trying to bring awareness to that. I’m very proud of what they represent, they represent themselves extraordinarily well, but also they took this opportunity to see a bigger light and a bigger picture and that’s pretty exciting.”