Whitney Kropp is a sophomore at Ogemaw Heights High, in West Branch, Michigan, was in class last month when the results of the homecoming vote were announced over the PA system. It was the usual suspects; popular kids and cheerleaders, jocks. But Whitney then heard her name among the nominees and was stunned that this could happen.
And that alone should have made her suspicious. See, Whitney’s one of "those" kids; the different ones who don't wear the same clothes as everyone else, and doesn't the same hair and goosestep along with the other students. She stood out in the crowd; she wore black clothes and had strange hair colors, but, hearing her name among the others made her happy.
Until….She began hearing that other classes erupted in laughter when her name was mentioned. And then, popular football player, Josh Awrey, also a sophomore who would have been paired with Whitney, withdrew from the court.
Still, Whitney saw this as a bright light in her high school experience: "In the Homecoming Court! :)" she wrote on Facebook. "Little nervous but this is going to be fun :D"
Another girl wrote back: "Probably not with Josh though."
Whitney responded: "He couldnt do it cause of football plus he never goes to homecoming."
"That's not what he told everybody."
See, just like the movie, Carrie, the whole thing had been planned as a joke by students at the school. How funny it would be to have one of the unpopular girls be part of the homecoming court. How funny, indeed.
"I thought I wasn't worthy," Kropp said. "I was this big old joke."
But the joke didn't last long once the story got out. Whitney lives in a small town where news spreads fast; her sister told her friends, who told their parents, and suddenly a Facebook page, in support of Whitney Kropp, was created. The page has more likes—some 3,500—than there are people in town—just 2,100.
A bank account was opened for Whitney’s homecoming expenses but the money that poured in was unnecessary; town businesses began donating whatever Whitney needed.
Shannon Champagne, a beauty salon employee, said, "It really touched me. I can't believe that kids can be so mean and ruthless. In high school, everything means everything to you. You don't realize that none of it will matter after you leave."
So she and another salon worker offered their services and asked other businesses to do the same. Businesses in West Branch will be buying her dinner, and talking her photos; some even purchased a gown, the shoes and a tiara for Whitney to wear.
And even better than that, when the homecoming game comes around, and the homecoming court is brought onto the field, the entire town plans on turning out to cheer for Whitney Kropp. Clutching posters and wearing T-shirts that say "Team Whitney," they will cheer that girl, the butt of the joke, but now the star of the show, and wearing a brand new red dress, circles the field in a .
And some of those coming to the game are former graduates who haven’t been back in decades.
"We want to make this the best homecoming ever," said Rebecka Vigus, who has never gone back for the homecoming game, but changed her mind when she heard about Whitney.
And she isn’t the only one; one football player has changed his mind, too.
After all the online uproar, Josh Awrey, elected alongside Kropp to represent the sophomore class, has decided to remain in the court. On his own Facebook page he wrote, "Im sick of everyone blaming me. I had nothing to do with this. I think what they did is rlly rude and immature."
And not at all funny.
So, Friday night, the strange girl, the one who has colored hair and always wears black, will be the most popular girl in town.
Funny, how that worked out.
PS The school is investigating the "joke".