Let me preface this by saying that I went to a relatively small high school (about 700 students when I attended), and we didn't elect a Homecoming Queen. So I had to do some research when I saw the link on Huffington.com that a teen with Down's Syndrome, Mariah Slick, won the title of Homecoming Queen at Azle High School in Azle, Texas.
The look on Mariah's face when they announce her name is wonderful. But, ill with a cold yesterday, a cynical part of me took over, thinking, "A bunch of people must have gotten together and planned to vote the "nice little disabled girl" in."
And then another part of me thought, "So what?"
In the book, "The Secret Life of Bees", Lily Owens asks August Boathouse why she chose to paint her farmhouse bright pink. August says that she did it for her sister May (who we learn through the course of the book likely has some sort of mental illness). The idea of painting the house in that bright pink made May so happy, and August figured that living in a bright pink house was worth it if you could make somebody that happy.
If I'd have been nominated Homecoming Queen, I'd have needed a block of people determined to get me in too in order to win. People were willing to do it for Mariah Slick, and that really says something, about how she's impacted her peers, I thought. So I moved on with my day.
Story Isn't Over...
Today, when I was considering doing this blog entry, I did the research that I talked about in the first paragraph, on both both Azle High and Homecoming Queens. I assumed that only the graduating class voted for the Queen, which would be a vote that you could conceivably swing toward someone (at least in my school). But I guess the whole school votes. And Axle High has 1700 students.
This wasn't any "pity win". Mariah Slick won this fair and square. Congratulations to her!
And kudos to Axle High School students for recognizing the contribution that Mariah makes to their school community and giving her some recognition for it.
And shame on me for being cynical without stopping to learn all the facts, even when I figure that I can justify it. It seems that sometimes I still underestimate people. I'll have to work on that.