SMHS’ Liu Named to Royal Court

Moments after San Marino High’s Rachelle Liu took her bouquet and place among the seven 2016 Tournament of Roses Royal Court members on Monday, her mother’s eyes filled with tears — and then Chacal Liu remembered that the announcement meant her only child would take center stage at the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.
“I didn’t think about that,” Chacal said. “It wasn’t in my mind and I thought there was another round.”
The months-long process that began with 800 local girls and ended up with Rachelle and six others is over — well, until a Rose Queen is crowned on Oct. 22 in the Exhibition Hall at the Pasadena Convention Center. The overwhelmed Chacal cried tears of pride more for her daughter’s journey through the process than the destination of a float on Colorado Boulevard.
“She cares not just about being crowned or having the title [of Rose Princess], but that this will give her another opportunity to serve her community,” said Chacal. “It’s so important that she can represent, do more meaningful things for people and share her love.”
Rachelle, 17, lives in Arcadia but considers San Marino a second home.
“I’m really proud to be able to represent San Marino High School and the San Marino community,” said Rachelle, who hopes to become a doctor in the Doctors Without Borders program. “Even though I don’t live in the city, I’ve definitely grown up here with everyone and to represent them is such an honor. I hope to exhibit the kindness, love and passion that San Marinians have.”
Joining Rachelle on the Royal Court will be Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Bryce Bakewell, Blair High’s Donaly Marquez, Alverno High’s Natalie Hernandez-Barber, Maranatha High’s Regina Pullens, La Cañada High’s Sarah Shaklan and Flintridge Preparatory’s Erika Winter. The Royal Court will preside over the 127th Rose Parade and 102nd Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.
“Each participant in her own way has found — or maybe endured — an adventure of sorts in this process,” Tournament of Roses President Mike Mathiessen said on the steps of the Tournament House. “They’re a great example of what makes our community special. The Royal Court is part of our history, our present and our future.”
San Marino’s history was represented at the 2016 Royal Court Announcement by 2015 Princess Veronica Mejia, a resident of the city and graduate of SMHS. While Liu could look to Mejia as a guideline for how to manage the upcoming 100-plus public appearances in the next two months and her school work, it sounds like she’s already ahead of the game. The week before the announcement, Liu alerted her teachers that she might be named to the court and began to plan out how she would manage her heavy course load.
“I asked her, ‘Do you think you can do this with your schedule?’ and she said, ‘Mom, time is like a puzzle, so I’m going to put everything in the right place,’” Chacal said. “So I said, ‘Okay. You go for it.’”
It’s not just schoolwork that keeps Liu busy. She is the president and founder of the Leadership, Experience, Opportunity Club, captain of the Speech and Debate team and captain of the Mock Trial team. Additionally, Liu is the director of the Holiday Angels Musical Group and Kids Play for Kids.
Despite her already stellar resume that now includes the title of “Princess,” Liu doesn’t anticipate things changing at school for her.
“People at our school are pretty grounded and there are so many people there doing amazing things all the time,” Liu said. “I’ll stay humble about the whole thing.”
Five SMHS students were among the 39 finalists: Liu, Victoria Castreje, Nicole Clarke, Claire Malhotra and Sarah Sabihm.
“Growing up and watching the Rose Parade and seeing the princesses, I always wanted to be just like them, [so] to be able to finally do that now is a dream come true,” said Liu. “I just hope that throughout the process, I can be a good role model to the girls in the Pasadena area and beyond.”

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