Gwaltney named 2008 Peanut Fest Queen

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

Brett Gwaltney was named the 2008 Peanut Fest Queen yesterday during the annual Queen’s Luncheon held at the Suffolk National Guard Armory.

Gwaltney, a senior at Nansemond Suffolk Academy, beat out the other seven peanut princesses to earn the crown, the title and the glory during this year’s Peanut Fest.

Gwaltney is a varsity cheerleader, lacrosse and field hockey player for NSA and is in the National Honor Society and Operation Smile club at school. In her spare time, she volunteers for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, tutors students at NSA’s Lower School and has worked for the Salvation Army’s canned food drive.

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Gwaltney’s journey to the crown began at NSA.

Two princesses are chosen from each of the public schools, Lakeland High, Nansemond River High, and King’s Fork High. Two more princesses are chosen from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

At the public schools, teachers and administrators have a committee to choose the two best essays written to apply for Peanut Princess. At NSA, the young ladies who made Homecoming court the year before but did not win Homecoming Queen are chosen as the representatives for the school.

By the end of the school year, each princess is notified that they have been chosen and their names and applications are sent to Peanut Fest.

This year, Gwaltney was joined by Chelsea Heimann as NSA princesses. Jaeron Mann and Dasha Godunova represented Nansemond River High School. Precious Brandford and Lateakwa Jones represented King’s Fork High School. Kaity Byrum and Cortney Galloway represented Lakeland High School.

To pick the Peanut Queen, the applications go all across the city of Suffolk to involved community leaders and citizens. Any identifying information about the princesses is stripped from their application to ensure that the girls are being judged solely on their work. The essays that were written to apply to be a princess are reread and scored and are worth 40 percent of the total score for the title. From there, each princess’s community service efforts, activities, and scholastic and extracurricular awards make up the other 60 percent. Princesses never submit a photograph to Peanut Fest staff as it is not a beauty competition, but a recognition of the community involvement and achievements of the girls.

In this year’s essay contest, “Holding on to the History of Peanut Fest,” Gwaltney wrote that Peanut Fest gives Suffolk a chance to remember its roots.

“Even though Peanut Fest has come full circle, year after year it stays true to the flavor of the agricultural community, and gives us the chance to reflect on our history, congregate with family and friends and create long lasting memories,” she wrote. “Peanut Fest is so rooted in our history; it has become more than just an old friend — It is like a member of our family.”

Brett Gwaltney is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Gwaltney Jr. To see this year’s Peanut Fest Queen, come out to the Suffolk Peanut Parade this Saturday.