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Lemont High School Elects Special Needs Students to Homecoming Court

Four of the school's eight students elected to Lemont's homecoming court this year are special needs students, including queen Becka Konicki, who has Down syndrome.

Lemont High School's 2013 homecoming queen and king, Becka Konicki and Alex Keating. Photo Credit: Lemont High School
Lemont High School's 2013 homecoming queen and king, Becka Konicki and Alex Keating. Photo Credit: Lemont High School
Homecoming is an exciting time of year for many high school students, particularly those who are chosen as king and queen.

This year, homecoming court took on a new meaning at Lemont High School, where students worked to elect students who they thought truly deserved the honor.

During an all-school assembly Sept. 27, four students with special needs were named to this year's homecoming court. Three of the students—senior queen Becka Konicki, sophomore prince Isaac Ziebell and freshman princess Michaela Tauer—have Down syndrome. 

Andy Podczerwinski, who was paralyzed in a tragic accident last summer, was elected junior prince.

"These kids are all great students who contribute a lot to the culture of our school and community, despite the personal obstacles they face every day," said Christi Flores, Director of Special Education Services at Lemont. "They don't always have the opportunity to shine, so I think recognizing them in this way was pretty incredible."

Rounding out the homecoming court was senior king Alex Keating, junior princess Autumn Rita, sophomore princess Annie Ernst and freshman prince Sam Valone.

Every year, the homecoming voting process kicks off with nominations from faculty. After nominations are received, students cast their votes by class.

Student Council sponsor Elizabeth Raimondi said teachers in the Special Education department nominated several of their students this year. Once they made the ballot, the entire school seemed to rally behind them, even creating Facebook groups to get out the vote.

"The students who made homecoming court won with an overwhelming amount of votes," Raimondi said. "I think the school just embraced the idea early on."

Raimondi said this year's court represents what Lemont is all about.

"I've been doing this for a long time and this year was without a doubt one of the most special homecomings we've had," Raimondi said. "These are the moments that really show the character of our students and make Lemont High School a place we can all be proud of."

Flores said this year's homecoming was one teachers and students will never forget.

"These kids are as much a part of this school as anyone else," Flores said. "For them to be recognized by their peers is really touching, and it boosts their self-esteem like you wouldn't believe. They were so proud and so happy, and I think we were all right there with them."
Christine Balaty October 15, 2013 at 08:42 PM
What a great display of the heart in the Lemont community! So proud of our kids for embracing their peers with special needs. They have journeyed together since elementary school, and recognize each fellow student as a valuable, contributing member of their school community. Way to go, LHS students and staff!
respeck4all October 16, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Its the nice things like this that make people feel good, about our young people. We really need a lot more of these stories for the media to "jump on."
Tracy Lee Nash October 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Awesome!
Cindy Halpern October 17, 2013 at 02:30 PM
It is wonderful for a change to hear about kids doing good deeds.

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