The story of this year’s West Feliciana High Homecoming Queen begins four years ago when a freshman made up his mind to one day escort a particular coed to the homecoming pep rally after she was nominated for Homecoming Court.
When Joshua Lowe was in 9th grade, he began telling his mother about his plan. “He would say ‘I am going to make sure it happens’ and he’d say that he was going to walk her at the pep rally,” recalls Beth Lowe, Joshua’s mother. “My response was usually “okay Josh but how are you going to escort her when you don’t play football?”
“I have always wanted to play football. It was my senior year so I wanted to give it a shot, and my parents agreed to let me. Being able to possibly escort my dear friend, Mary Margaret Burns, played a big part in my decision to play,” said Joshua.
As nominations were being accepted for the 2012 Homecoming Court, senior Raleigh Zumbro decided to nominate classmate Mary Margaret. “Mary Margaret is very outgoing; she talks to everybody,” said Raleigh. “She always has a smile on her face, she’s super funny and so much fun to be around! She knows everyone’s name!”
Mary Margaret is a 17-year-old senior at West Feliciana High and she has Down Syndrome, but that has not stopped her from winning the hearts of everyone she meets.
“Mary Margaret is more outgoing than her dad and I. It is really a gift from God that she doesn’t see age, color, gender, or economic level. All she sees is a person and she loves them for who they are,” said Margaret Burns, Mary Margaret’s mother.
The students of WFHS have made it abundantly clear that they didn’t vote for Mary Margaret because she has Down Syndrome. They voted for her because of the amazing person she is and for what she has done to make a special place in all of their hearts.
“Mary Margaret has this charming personality that leaves me with a smile every time I get to talk with her. I just knew that her personality would someday win her votes when she got the chance to be on Homecoming Court, and I wanted to be the one with the honor of escorting her,” said Joshua.
The first step to being crowned Queen was for Mary Margaret to get enough votes to make it onto the Homecoming Court. “My classmates and I tweeted for days telling everyone to vote for Mary Margaret! We also made tons of posts online for those who might not have known who Mary Margaret was,” said Raleigh. “We wanted to make sure she won because she really deserved it. This was all about her!”
“As her mother, I was surprised and overwhelmed at the thought of her being nominated for Homecoming Court, but I was also a little afraid. I didn’t want all of this to be for the wrong reasons, but Mary Margaret’s teacher assured me that the students loved her and had nothing but good intentions when nominating her. Her teacher is wonderful and offered to practice with her and attend all of the events with her,” said Margaret. “Then they called us back and said she made it on the court! She was absolutely thrilled, and we were all very excited for her.”
After receiving enough votes to make the Homecoming Court, Mary Margaret then needed an escort for the pep rally. The pep rally is held in the WFHS auditorium and always draws a sizeable crowd of students, parents and community members. Unaware of his players’ desire to escort her, Joshua’s football coach approached him about walking with Mary Margaret. “My coach did not know anything about my desire to do this. He asked me if I would consider escorting her and I told him I would be honored to. I was very excited and filled with joy that out of so many seniors on the team, I got to be the one to escort such a special young lady,” said Joshua.
“The coach let me ask Mary Margaret if she would let me walk with her. So, I went up to her and explained that she would need an escort for the pep rally, and I asked if she would mind if I was the one to escort her. At first she replied with just ‘yes,’ but then after I was done explaining how it would work and what we would get to do (walk under the swords, etc.), she seemed filled with pure joy. She was excited and gave me a big hug,” said Joshua.
“When I found out that he was actually going to be able to walk with her, I was pleased to see that the very thing that he had been wanting to do was happening,” said Beth. “I’m just in awe of how God orchestrated it all. To my knowledge he had never told anyone else of this desire he had to escort her.”
Now that she was on the Homecoming Court, it was up to her classmates to decide whether she would be crowned Queen.
“There were a lot of us that campaigned online to make sure everyone supported Mary Margaret in this. Everyone loves her! She knows the names of almost all of the students and loves them all as much as they love her,” said Joshua.
During the pep rally on Friday morning, each of the girls on the Homecoming Court were introduced and escorted down the isles to the stage. When Mary Margaret’s name was called the crowd erupted into excited cheers and applause to show their support. She held tightly onto Joshua’s arm as they walked under the swords and took their seat on the stage. Mary Margaret was noticeably moved by the overwhelming show of support from her peers and maintained a beaming smile all morning long.
During the Homecoming Parade, Mary Margaret rode on the back of a convertible and tossed candy to parade goers as they shouted her name.
Then, it was time for the game. Droves of fans showed up and packed the stadium in anticipation of the game and of seeing who would be crowned Queen.
“The whole town came to the game to watch Mary Margaret get crowned. We all knew that she was going to be Queen, but we were still so nervous. When they said “and our 2012 Homecoming Queen is……. MARY MARGARET” everyone in the stands stood up and we were all yelling so loud! There was not one person sitting and a lot of people were crying tears of joy, including myself,” said Raleigh.
Mary Margaret, escorted by her father, stood proud as last years Queen crowned her as the 2012 Homecoming Queen.
“When she won Queen, it was completely overwhelming. Just the thought that something like this would ever be a possibility in her life was so humbling to us,” said Margaret. “Her father and I are just so appreciative to everyone for this.”
“It meant the world to me for Mary Margaret to win. I’ve known her since I was little and she’s always been so special to my family and me. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be our Homecoming Queen,” said Raleigh.
“I think she is very excited about everything that has happened and has seemed to love the Queen role,” said Joshua. “She really deserved to win. We got it right.”
“As a mother, of course I am extremely proud of Joshua for doing this, but this is all about Mary Margaret as far as he is concerned. He has had so many people thank him and say how much they appreciate him doing this, but his answer is always the same; that he is honored to have been able to do it,” said Beth.
“Mary Margaret Burns epitomizes the universal acceptance of all people. She loves everyone she meets, and she shows that through her conversations, smiles, hugs, waves, and overall school spirit. The superficialities that separate other people such as race, gender, attitudes, or appearance are all invisible to Mary Margaret. She sees people as trusted friends. Friday night, the WFHS student body returned that gift when they showed how much they loved and respected Mary Margaret by electing her as the 2012-2013 Homecoming Queen,” said WFHS Principal Jim Carroll.
With overwhelming support, Mary Margaret Burns will represent West Feliciana High School for the following year as Queen. “I would like to congratulate Mary Margaret. I am excited about her representing WFHS,” said Superintendent Hollis Milton.