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A recent track resurfacing project eliminated — at least for this year — the tradition of homecoming queen candidates arriving in front of the Clemens Field grandstands in vehicles. But based on the fun that could be seen at halftime of Friday night’s football game, it didn’t take anything away from a special moment for those students and their families.

With the announcement of the winner, Philomath senior Cassidy Freeman flashed a wide smile that remained intact while the crown was placed upon her head through all of the photos that would follow.

“I am surprised ... it was a good competition,” Freeman said. “Everybody out here, they’re all very sweet girls and everybody is just super. They’re just a big part of the school in general and they all do a really good job voicing themselves. It was a lot of fun and everybody was super nice to each other.”

In fact, the two senior candidates — Freeman and Shaylee Charley — have a special connection.

“I was lucky enough to have my best friend, Shaylee, be right there with me as a senior princess,” Freeman said.

The other princesses that were part of the event included freshman Ingrid Hellesto, sophomore Jazz Choi and junior Lily Schell. They were all escorted onto the track in front of the Clemens Field grandstands by their fathers, including Cassidy’s dad, Rick Freeman.

“She’s always here to give off positive vibes and big smiles and maybe get messed up at an assembly every once in a while,” PHS Principal Mike Bussard said during Cassidy’s introduction.

The assembly reference had to do with the queen candidates earlier answering questions in front of the student body.

“As the assembly, they asked me ‘if you’re stranded on a desert island, what do you want?’ Freeman explained. “I said, ‘a hatchet, a fishing pole.’”

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Of course, a good answer would’ve been “a boat” and she’s been taking some good-natured kidding ever since, including from her own dad.

“If he asks you ‘if you’re stranded on a desert island, you want the boat,’” he said as his daughter got ready for an interview.

“OK, OK, got it, got it,” she laughed.

Outgoing PHS homecoming queen Sophie Gerding was on hand to see the crown passed along to Freeman.

The process of selecting the homecoming queen begins with in-class elections of a candidate — one each for the freshman through junior classes along with two seniors. A final vote then occurs.

Homecoming involves a whole lot more than the selection of the homecoming queen and the Friday night football game. Various activities are staged all week, including a powder-puff football game and bonfire on Wednesday night and a homecoming parade on Friday morning.

“It’s been hectic — there has been so much going on with the parade and trying to figure out exactly how we were going to do this because we can’t drive on the track this year,” Freeman said. “We just got everything figured out. It’s all been so much fun.”

Students wrapped up the celebratory week with a homecoming dance on Saturday night.

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