TOR Princess Comes Full Circle Back to Arroyo Vista Where She Graduated

The Tournament of Roses Queen and Royal Court visited a kindergarten during their library time at Arroyo Vista Elementary School. From left-right are Helen Susan Rossi, Rucha S. Kadam, Lauren Michele Baydaline, Queen Louise Deser Siskel, Micaela Sue McElrath, Sherry Xiaorui Ma, and Ashley Symone Hackett. See more photos on page 12. Photo by Sally Kilby

Every year, Arroyo Vista (AV) Elementary School holds a parade of state floats created by fifth graders and every year, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Queen and Royal Court attend.

This year’s parade on Dec. 7, however, was particularly special.

One of the seven members of the Court graduated from AV.

Lauren Baydaline, who grew up in South Pasadena, returned to her alma mater as a princess on the Royal Court. Baydaline is pronounced by-doll-in.

Queen Louise Deser Siskel and her Court began their visit in the school library. Princess Baydaline’s mother, Selena Baydaline, is the school’s librarian. They then spent time with a kindergarten class.

Baydaline greeted the children, telling them she had attended AV. “I was once a student your age at this school,” she told several awed kindergarteners.

The Court then visited all four fifth-grade classes on the campus. The builders of the wheeled floats stood next to their creations. The floats were displayed on desktops or, if they were too large, on the floor.

Adult interviewers held clipboards and walked among the floats, engaging students in conversation about their projects. The group included school district and city officials, along with police and fire personnel and a city librarian. The Court joined in. 

Students next moved their floats to the playground for the parade. There, several of Baydaline’s former teachers greeted her warmly. 

Then the 34th annual Tournament of States Parade began. School principal Cheryl Busick expressed thanks to those organizing the event and those attending. She then welcomed “AV alum” Princess Baydaline and the rest of the Court. They were all given front-row seats to view the procession.

Fifth graders took turns making announcements and introductions. The first speaker, Paige Graham, explained the process of the three-month research project. In addition to making a float, students write and publish a book about the state it represents, she said.

“In keeping with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses,” she added, “the floats are made of all-natural materials.”

One student expressed thanks to their parents for helping with the project.

Another called out the names of the 119 students as they walked single file pulling their floats across the expansive yard. Fittingly, a gigantic map of the United States is painted on the yard’s surface. Patriotic music played in the background.

Principal Busick said after her remarks that the project has a positive impact on students. “It builds confidence and their knowledge of one area, and it is a family experience to get this done.”

Baydaline said that going back to AV and attending the float parade, which she participated in as a fifth grader, was amazing. “The experience of returning to my roots and seeing the teachers who helped make me what I am today and to hug them was incredible,” she said following the event. Now that she is a high school senior and a princess, she said, she was able to see them in a new light.

Some five of her former teachers still work at the school, according to her mother.

Baydaline said she is happy to be able to serve as a role model for students from her former school.