From AZ C"I imagined that she would be snubbed and made fun of and not be given opportunities," Mary Alten said. "I imagined that every day at school would be a struggle for her."
Instead, something wonderful happened.
Toni, now a senior at Loveland High, was crowned queen at Loveland's prom April 30. And her friend, Drew Anderson, also a senior with Down syndrome, was crowned king by their classmates.
As students cheered and placed a plush crown on Drew's head and a jeweled tiara on Toni's, Mary Alten clapped and cried.
"It really hit me at prom that night: What I had imagined for her turned out to be the exact opposite," she said. "That she would be so well-known and well-liked and accepted at school -- that was a pretty huge thing for us."
On prom night, when the royal winners were announced, the instant cheers, claps and smiles were universal and genuine.
"No one was upset; everyone was excited about the result," said Lauren Tipton, a senior who has known Drew since second grade. "Usually people are catty if they don't win. Usually they just vote for their friends. Drew and Tony are friends with everybody."
When Toni heard his name, he smiled and waved a peace sign to the crowd. "Everybody was happy," Drew said later.
When it was time, Drew and Toni clasped hands and danced in the spotlight to a Taylor Swift song. After a few moments, their classmates joined them.
Later they posed for pictures. Drew held up his hands up in a victory pose and Toni hoisted her bouquet over her head. There were high-fives and hugs, and some classmates and parents wiped tears from their eyes.
Two weeks later, Drew and Toni can still be seen sporting their crowns on the bus or at school. "I am the queen and Drew, he's my friend," Toni said. "I'm lovin' high school."
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