Saturday, October 13, 2012
students support homecoming queen nominee with Down syndrome
by Marc Valero from Tampa Bay Online:
Sebring High School students clapped and cheered for 26 senior guys and gals during the Homecoming Court Processional on Wednesday morning in the school's gymnasium.
The event gave students a chance to see the guys in dress suits and the gals in evening gowns before they voted later in the day for the 2012 homecoming king and queen.
One of the nominees the students selected for homecoming queen, and a favorite in many hearts, is Samantha Alamo, who has Down syndrome.
As he waited to walk in the processional, J.T. Gaskins said, "I am so nervous right now."
Commenting on Samantha, J.T. said, "I think it's great; I actually want her to win and I believe that she will, actually; she's a good candidate."
Samantha's caretaker is her sister, Krystle, who said relatives from Bartow and Kissimmee are coming to town to join her family in Sebring to see Samantha and celebrate her selection.
"Everybody is super excited," she said. "We're super excited. Everybody has been really, really good about having her in homecoming."
The year has gone by fast, she noted. Their mother passed away in April and their father died in April 2011.
"She (Samantha) got the great honor to come live with me," Krystle exclaimed.
Samantha said the best part of school is her friends.
She likes to bake cakes, cupcakes and brownies, Samantha said.
Sister-in-law Nicole Torres said Samantha also makes deviled eggs.
"I taught her one time and went to the house the next week and you were making them all by yourself," Torres said looking at Samantha.
The 26 nominated guys and gals relaxed a bit after being presented to the first of two assemblies of students in the gymnasium.
Samantha's homecoming processional partner, Dalton Helvey, said, "It's fun and exciting. It's a new and memorable experience. It's something different that you don't get to do every day."
This is Dalton's second year working with Samantha in class.
"She's a good friend of mine," he said. "We are glad she can make (homecoming) court this year.
Homecoming queen nominee Cheyenne Reeves said Samantha looked pretty and did well during the processional.
Commenting on Samantha, Principal Anne Lindsay said, "She's one of the whole school. It doesn't surprise me. They are all special students and they all have their own gifts and talents and so does she.
"We don't see her as different, we see her as one of us."
The boys and girls were paired up for the processional, but all the Sebring High students will vote for their favorite for king and queen, irrespective of the processional pairings.
The king and queen winners and three male and female runners-up will make up the Homecoming Court.
The winners will be announced Friday night at the homecoming football game at Firemen's Field.