The high school from which my kids graduated is in a nearby small town. Graduating classes average 200-225 seniors. Homecoming week is special. A student government-led food drive kicks off in a big way. A parade winds through streets lined with red-clad crowds cheering the marching band, floats from every conceivable club, clusters of elementary school walkers, etc. School spirit runs high through many long-held traditions. The entire week has a very Norman Rockwell-ish feel to it.
The selection of Homecoming King and Queen, though, is mostly a popularity contest. No surprise there. This year, though, one of the guys the student body included on the court was a special needs student, Alex (not his real name). Alex is the kind of guy who knows and loves everybody. When he walks the halls, he's constantly shouting greetings, high-fiving and flashing his bright smile. A staff member at the high school describes him as "always positive, always happy, always genuine."
Alex's parents nixed his participation in one Homecoming week tradition: The 24 kids on the court spend the evenings leading up to Friday night's game TPing each other's houses. (The police pretty much look the other way, as they have for years and years. I know. Weird.) Since Alex couldn't be included in these hijinks, the other guys on the court arrived at his home on Thursday night and (prearranged with his parents) surprised him with a trip to a bowling alley. While he was gone, the 12 girls on the court (again, with his parents' okay) swooped in to decorate the inside of Alex's home and hang a big CONGRATS poster. Pretty cool.
Then the student body pulled off something that knocked the collective socks off the community. When the candidates lined up on the sideline during halftime of the big game, the king's crown was placed upon the unsuspecting head of . . . Alex.
Talk about classy. I wasn't there, but I'm told the roar that went up from the crowd was enough to give you goosebumps.
With "dark" news bombarding us on a daily basis, I'm so grateful for stories like this one that bring back the light. They remind me that the vast majority of us are still guided by kindness and compassion. Shine on, peeps.