ELKHART — Members of the Jimtown High School Class of 2020 reportedly knew who they wanted to be crowned homecoming queen since eighth grade.
And this past Friday, the class made it a reality when Fiona Newcomer, an 18-year-old with Down syndrome, received the title.
Donning a purple dress, Fiona’s mouth dropped in shock when it was announced she was this year’s homecoming queen and she later gave a royal curtsy as loud cheers continued from the audience.
“She was absolutely thrilled,” said Missy Newcomer, Fiona’s mother. “This was such a special moment for all of us.”
What was particularly thrilling was that the students appeared to vote for Fiona out of genuine love and affection, Missy added.
“One of her classmates told a teacher that they’ve been planning this since eighth grade, which astounded me,” Missy said. “I think was amazing that it was a priority for these students to try to make sure Fiona was a part of the homecoming court, but it also speaks to the character of this class and the kind of kids they are.”
Chosen from a court of four contestants, Fiona was escorted by her cousin Preston Phillips, who said he was honored to witness and be a part of Fiona’s special night.
“Throughout the first two quarters of the game, Fiona had dozens of people tell her she looked beautiful,” Phillips said. “It was awesome to see all of Jimtown supporting her.”
But the best part of the night, Phillips said, was Fiona’s reaction to being selected homecoming queen.
“It was priceless and her night was made,” he said. “It was definitely a highlight of just about everyone’s high school career.”
After she was crowned, Missy said Fiona spent most of the game giving out hugs and many people wanted to have their picture taken with her.
“It’s been fun to watch the relationships that have developed between Fiona and her classmates,” Missy said. “Her win was not a sympathy thing, these kids genuinely love her and she loves them.”
A clip of her victory was uploaded on Facebook and has so far been shared 2.8K times and garnered close to 2K likes.
Despite her disability, Missy said Fiona has a rich life. She sings in the school’s choir, she plays softball and has a strong relationship with staff, peers and the community.
“This year, she’ll probably be wearing her crown in the dugout,” Missy said, laughing.
Describing her daughter’s personality, Missy said Fiona is an outgoing, affectionate and kind-hearted young lady who takes displeasure in seeing anyone upset.
“She’s always willing to go up and give someone a hug,” Missy said. “We joke at church that she’s the hug minister because she likes to hug people and loves to direct who we should hug and shake hands with. She likes when people interact and support each other.”
At school, Phillips said Fiona has a knack for making everyone around her happier.
“She’s very nice and friendly and gives out countless high-fives while walking down the halls,” he said.
Overall, Missy said she hopes Fiona’s victory encourages people to be less fearful about developing relationships with people who have any kind of challenges as students did with Fiona.
“My hope is that (Fiona’s win) will help smoothen the way for other kids who have challenges and help people see that they’re human like all of us,” she said.
“People with challenges have days when they’re sweet, kind, and funny and they have days when they’re snarky, irritable and difficult, and that’s Fiona,’’ said her mother. “She’s just like the rest us – she has all of those characteristics, but her overarching personality is kindness and love and she gets to show that to her classmates and they appreciate that about her.”