A Special Crown for a Special Girl

Teenager with Down syndrome elected homecoming queen

For many teenagers, the title of "Homecoming Queen" is an important symbol of popularity. However, for one girl in a Chicago suburb, it became a sign of true friendship and respect.

Anne Jennings, a 17-year-old with Down syndrome, was named Homecoming Queen at Libertyville High School earlier this month. And like any teenage girl, she's been elated ever since.

"Before, I was just plain me," Jennings told the Chicago Tribune. "When I was queen, it changed. It's amazing. Everyone loves me. I love me."

Her mother, Ellen Jennings, cried tears of joy as she recorded the school assembly on video. All of Anne's fellow students can be heard cheering loudly as the much sought-after crown was placed on her head.

Anne spent her time in regular education classrooms all through 8th grade. Although she took special-education classes in high school separate from most of her peers, she was able to maintain many of her childhood friendships.

"I heard her say, 'I don't want people to vote for me out of pity' because of her challenges," Megan Collins, a 16-year-old junior who voted for Jennings, said. "I knew she would appreciate it more than the other girls."

For years, Anne often struggled with why she was different from other students.

"Now I know why," she said. "This was going to happen."

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
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