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Where EAST meets the Northwest

OUTGOING ORGANIZER. The 2017 Portland Rose Festival Metro East princess is Madisyn Montgomery, a junior at Oregon City High School. The Portland Rose Festivalís Queenís Coronation takes place Saturday, June 10 at Portlandís Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Photo/Prince Charming Photography)

Madisyn Montgomery is seen with cousins Kylee and Chloe on March 22 after she was announced as her schoolís representative. (Photo courtesy of Madisyn Montgomery)

Madisyn gives a presentation at Riverside Elementary School for Continue To Find Kindness, an organization she created and founded to help young girls recognize and resolve bullying. (Photo courtesy of Madisyn Montgomery)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #11 (June 5, 2017), page 11.

Empathy, compassion incites Metro East princess to serve others

By Maileen Hamto

The Asian Reporter

Recognizing the importance of helping girls and young women sustain friendships by resolving conflict in a constructive way, Madisyn Montgomery has been working on growing a movement to "revolutionize kindness."

Long before she had an opportunity to be part of the 2017 Portland Rose Festival Court as the Metro East princess, Madisyn created and founded Continue To Find Kindness. At age 11, she was inspired to help young girls recognize and resolve bullying.

"Iíve witnessed friends and strangers alike experience harassment without the guidance or self-confidence to stand up against mean behavior," said Madisyn, "Itís extremely hurtful to see not only a lack of kindness, but pure cruelty take place without anyone to stop it."

Madisyn was in the fourth grade when she addressed her first audience. She was humbled and inspired by the response.

"I still treasure a package of letters handwritten from my first presentation at my old elementary school," she said. "They shared their appreciation, improved understanding, and newfound confidence to tackle the Ďmean girlí phenomenon."

Fast forward six years, and Continue To Find Kindness has grown to include nine additional board members. Together, Madisyn and her colleagues have spoken to more than 2,000 students throughout Oregon. They inform, teach, and inspire young girls to prevent social conflict by learning how to defend themselves and others against bullying. Madisyn finds great satisfaction in connecting with young people first-hand and seeing the results of their work in self-confident youth with newfound tools to confront bullying.

Compassion and empathy guide Madisynís service for her school and community. In fact, her focus on serving others extends beyond the infrastructure she has built around Continue To Find Kindness. She also volunteers as a peer counsellor for Youthline, a teen-crisis hotline that provides free, anonymous, and confidential emotional support for young people around the globe.

"The ability to turn someoneís day around during one phone call or exchange of texts is beyond humbling and fulfilling. Despite the struggles we face in life, Youthline is an incredible support system that listens when no one else will," Madisyn said.

In addition to service work, Madisyn is president of the Oregon Association of Student Councils, where she works with eight other student leaders representing various regions of Oregon to develop and inspire students to become effective leaders.

"I take pride in being a part of this organization, as I have grown significantly since my first summer camp going into my freshman year," she said. "I have learned so much about myself and my potential that has surely propelled me through challenges and in reaching my achievements."

Madisyn credits the strong support of her family in encouraging her continued service. Being part Cambodian, she also appreciates the opportunity to learn about Khmer culture through food, traditions, and family gatherings.

"Like many cultures, our family is very large. In fact, my younger brother is the 26th grandchild to my momís mother!" said Madisyn. "The bustling family get-togethers are always something I look forward to with an abundance of personality and food."

Madisyn said she is "extremely honored" to represent Metro East and Oregon City High School on this yearís Rose Festival Court. Over the past months, she has accumulated many new memories with her "sister princesses" at countless community events and appearances.

"I am constantly looking forward to the next adventure! Everywhere from the adidas village to the Doernbecher Childrenís Hospital, I am continually intrigued and happy to have the ability to share the Rose Festival celebration with all," she said.

* * *

A Rose Festival princess represents her school and acts as the "face of the Rose Festival" at many events in the community, including parades, volunteer activities, luncheons with community and business leaders, and more. The Portland Rose Festival Foundation awards each court member a $3,500 scholarship, courtesy of The Randall Group.

To qualify for the Rose Festival Court, a candidate must be a full-time junior or senior at a 4A, 5A, or 6A high school in Multnomah, Washington, or Clackamas county and have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Potential princesses are evaluated on citizenship, scholastic achievement, school activities, civic involvement, volunteer projects, communication skills, and overall impression.

The Portland Rose Festival Queen is chosen from all of the court members at Portlandís Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, June 10 from 8:30am to 9:30am. To learn more, call (503) 227-2681 or visit <www.rosefestival.org>.

* * *

To learn about Asian representatives on the 2017 Rose Festival Court ó Maggie Beutler of Wilson High School, Tiffany Nguyen of David Douglas High School, Keeley Nguyen of Franklin High School, Michaela Canete of Century High School (Metro West), Lucy Sagoo of St. Maryís Academy, Mele Kavapalu of Madison High School, and Madisyn Montgomery of Oregon City High School (Metro East) ó visit <www.asianreporter.com/nwlocal.htm>.

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