Whitney Kropp was sitting in her geometry class at Ogemaw Heights High School when she heard her name announced over the PA system: She had made Homecoming Court, representing the sophomore class.
For many 16-year-old girls, Homecoming is a big deal. For weeks, months even, leading up to the big weekend, everyone talks dresses and dates and hair and makeup, who they're going to the game with, and who they will vote as Homecoming Court.
For the popular girls, making Homecoming Court is the ultimate goal: to ride in the convertible around the football field at half-time, to go to the dance on the quarterback's arm. For the unpopular kids, it's a chance to have a good time at the game, to dance and enjoy the night, and to dream about what it would be like to be one of those popular girls.
Whitney Kropp, with her black clothes and dyed hair, is not one of the popular girls.
Shocked at the news, Whitney was nevertheless excited. Today.com reports a conversation Whitney had with a friend on Facebook after the announcement:
"In the Homecoming Court! :) Little nervous but this is going to be fun :D"
Whitney found out then that Josh Awry, a football player and sophomore rep, had allegedly withdrawn. The Detroit News reports that Whitney heard "that other classrooms had laughed when her name was announced."
According to The Detroit News, the students who voted for Whitney, 16, "thought it would be funny if the popularity contest was won by someone unpopular."
Whitney's mother, Bernice Kropp, claims that her daughter "was getting ridiculed at school and on Facebook" after the announcement, reports Today.com.
"I thought I wasn't worthy," said Whitney told The Detroit News. "I was this big old joke."
But news travels fast in small towns, and soon other parents had heard about the prank played at Whitney's expense. A neighbor formed a Facebook page in defense of Whitney, and, soon, the whole town banned together to make the sophomore's Homecoming a night to remember. Bullying is a serious issue in many schools around the nation, and Whitney's town wasn't about to let her handle this case of bullying all by herself.
Bernice Kropp told The Detroit News, "Other kids started coming up to her and saying, 'Whitney, don't let them stop you from going to homecoming. You need to go ahead, you need to do it.' "
So, for Homecoming weekend in West Branch, Michigan, Whitney Knopp will be named the sophomore Homecoming Princess. Like one collective Fairy Godmother, the town will all participate in her debut. Whitney's hair and makeup will be done by a salon in town and her dress, shoes, and tiara will be donated by local businesses. She will ride in a convertible around the football field, solely representing the sophomore class. The crowd in the stands will not only be cheering for football, many will be wearing orange T-shirts that read "Team Whitney!" Orange, while not a school color at Ogemaw Heights High School, is Whitney's favorite color.
"It's hard to eclipse high school football in a small town," reports The Detroit News, "But, this Friday, West Branch will give it a try."