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Queen hopefuls praise Boy Scouts
Soroptimist Debra Emig introduces the candidates - photo by HIME ROMERO

RIPON – The six Ripon Almond Blossom Queen hopefuls have officially hit the ground running.

To wrap up the 48th annual Almond Blossom Kick-off dinner Thursday night at the Ripon Community Center, the young women vying for the title that will be passed on from current Miss Ripon Camila Sweaney each made their public debut with a speech covering the various aspects of Boy Scouts of America and what benefits the organization brings to communities.

The Boy Scout organization that is a century-old this year is being honored during the upcoming Almond Blossom festival parade.

University of the Pacific Freshman Annaliese Ippolito touched on the topic of leadership to start off the public speaking portion of the night.

“Good leaders are rare to find in our society today,” Ippolito said. “Scouting produces leaders by setting high standards and creating a way for young men to learn to be independent.”

Thursday also marked the first official scored event that the girls are evaluated on prior to the Coronation Ceremony – being held on Thursday, Feb. 11, inside the Ripon High School multipurpose room.

Left on their list to complete for a grade are selling fundraising tickets for Soroptimist International of Ripon, writing an essay about what they can contribute to the city, and showing what they have on the catwalk during the annual Almond Blossom Fashion Show.

But Ripon Christian junior Joie Darretta just used her three minutes to make an impact right there on the Community Stage – filling her time with as many facts about the 100 years of Scouting Service as she could fit into the allotted period.

“Scouting has allowed young boys to try new things and provide service to others,” Darretta said at the conclusion of her speech. “It has taught boys and girls to serve with passion and dedication.

“It has showed them that it is possible to make a difference in the world.”

The six Grand Marshals that are being honored during the parade were also recognized and given a medal for their respective achievements.

Representing the Boys Scouts was Nick Franko of Troop 414; Trentyn Vetch was representing Cub Scout Pack 414; Alejandro Diaz was recognized as the Police Explorer of the Year; Eddie Brown was commended for his work as a fire explorer; and Marisa and Makenzy Bergman were recognized for their achievements in the Girl Scouts.

In the eyes of event co-chair and Soroptimist Debra Emig, the girls will each take something special away from the experience that they’ll be able to turn back to later in life.

“This is something that looks great on a college application and on resumes, and just hearing how busy each of these young ladies are in their lives and seeing how they’re willing to dedicate so much time to this is a testament to their character,” Emig said. “Hopefully this is an important moment in their lives, and they’ll learn things that they’ll be able to take with them forever. Each of them is stepping outside of their comfort zone to do this, and that’s where you really learn the most about yourself as a person.”