Article from my local newspaper:
FLOWOOD — Northwest Rankin High student Katelyn Simpson was living a Cinderella fairy tale moment Friday night when the senior was named homecoming queen.
She didn't need a fairy godmother to overcome the machinations of an evil stepmother and two bratty stepsisters. Katelyn, who has Down syndrome, just needed the support of her classmates and school to say the requisite high GPA wasn't as important as being the role model she is.
"I didn't expect this," said Mitchell Simpson, Katelyn's father, as he choked back tears. "I didn't expect her to be on the homecoming court and definitely didn't expect this."
Standing on the football field, surrounded by her fellow homecoming court members and her beaming father, Katelyn had a big grin on her face and a few tears in her eyes while she was crowned.
The popular student looked around as the crowd yelled its approval.
The school's push to put Katelyn on the throne, however, wasn't a surprise to Principal Richard Morrison.
"She's a part of this school, and we wanted her to be part of this (homecoming) night," he said.
Earlier in the school year, several students petitioned Morrison to allow Katelyn's name on the homecoming ballot, he said.
After discussing a possible exception for Katelyn, Morrison told students to get 100 signatures from classmates and faculty support.
"They came in with over 100 signatures from students, and over 60 members of the faculty members, all saying they wanted Katelyn to be put on the ballot," Morrison said.
After taking the request before the student government, Morrison said the exception was approved unanimously.
Students cast their homecoming votes roughly three weeks ago, said junior maid Kelsey Hubbard. "In order to be on the court, you've got to be a role model, because you're representing your school," she said.
Katelyn's interaction with her classmates stood out for many, Morrison said.
"Katelyn's special in a lot of ways," he said. "She's got a smile that she always shares with all the students."
That smile was on full display Friday night, as Katelyn stood in a sea of homecoming maids, cheerleaders, school officials and parents.
Looking at her friends, Katelyn took a moment to wipe the tears from her eyes, and then once again, she turned that smile back on and said, "Thank you."
"The faculty and the students at this school are above the best," said Katelyn's mother, Anissa Simpson, as she ushered her daughter off the crowded football field.
"She was so excited getting ready (earlier this evening). All she could talk about was wearing her pretty white dress and looking like Cinderella."
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