Bullied Michigan high school sophomore Whitney Kropp, who was voted homecoming queen in what turned out to be a prank that backfired, participated in the festivities Friday night at Ogemaw Heights High School.
Whitney had been teased for some time by her fellow classmates at the West Branch, Mich., high school, and they laughed and pointed at her after she was named homecoming queen.
The vote was staged as a prank meant to humiliate the 16-year-old sophomore, but it backfired when the local community rallied behind Whitney.
Wearing a red dress and a flower in her hair, Whitney attended the homecoming game of the Ogemaw Heights High School football team.
“I had thoughts about not coming,” Whitney told reporters, who descended on the West Branch high school after her story went viral. “I just thought maybe I won’t have fun, but … I’m actually having a lot of fun right now.”
Local businesses pitched in to provide Whitney with her homecoming dress and footed the bill for her hair and nails.
A “Support Whitney Kropp” Facebook page has more than 116,000 likes on the social networking site. “Support Whitney and fight against bullying!” the site urges Facebook users.
While Whitney was voted homecoming queen as a joke, a boy with Down Syndrome was chosen homecoming queen “because he is loved,” according to the person who manages the Facebook page.
Whitney did not let the actions of her classmates get the best of her.
"The school is fantastic. They treated me so well here, and I couldn't ask for more,” she said, according to CNN.
Whitney said she hopes other bullied teens will follow her advice.
"The kids that are bullying, do not let them bring you down," Kropp told reporters, according to Fox News. “Stand up for what you believe in, and go with your heart and go with your gut. That's what I did, and look at me now. I'm just as happy as can be."
Among those supporting Whitney after word of the prank spread was her sister, Alivia Kropp.
"I told her ... you've got the courage, you've got the strength to go do it, so go do it and have fun," Alivia told CNN.
Businesses in West Branch were making sure homecoming will be special for Whitney, with local spots footing the bills for dinner, photographs, a homecoming gown, a tiara, and her hair and nails, the Detroit News reported.
Shannon Champagne, an employee of West Branch salon Whit’s End Hair Studio, was one of many town residents to offer their services to Whitney.
"It really touched me. I can't believe that kids can be so mean and ruthless," she told the Detroit News. "In high school, everything means everything to you. You don't realize that none of it will matter after you leave."