For a second consecutive year, the homecoming king and queen at Round Lake High School are nontraditional choices in roles generally associated with quarterbacks and cheerleaders.
Last year, two boys became the first same sex couple at the school to be voted to the posts of royalty by their peers. This year, two seniors with special needs will lead the court.
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Seniors Devonaire Daley, 17, of Round Lake Park, and Lourdes "Lulu" Reyes, 18, of Round Lake Beach, bested the competition this past week during halftime at the Powderpuff event and were selected homecoming king and queen, respectively.
"For our student body, it's really not about who the best athlete is, or the most popular. It's about who is the most deserving," Principal Donn Mendoza said. "I can tell you it was genuine. One individual student said she felt like crying she was so happy."
Daley and Reyes were nominated by the varsity girls volleyball team, and the players helped campaign for them. Each class at the school had five pairs of the top nominees as candidates, with student voting picking the winners.
"It was completely student generated. We had nothing to do with it," said Tom Walloch, a math teacher and student council adviser.
Daley and Reyes are in the self-contained life skills program that teaches students an array of skills, such as how to apply for jobs, "so they are able to achieve success after they leave our school," Mendoza said.
Students are mainstreamed and integrated into the bigger school picture whenever possible, which is how others came to know Daley and Reyes.
"They have had a profound positive impact on our student body," Mendoza said.
"He's (Daley) such a great kid. He's got super energy."
Sue Lomo, a life skills teacher, said Reyes is very active in the community and in the soccer program.
"She was able to look at them (the crowd during the announcement) and smile," Lomo said. "That never would have happened four years ago."
Lomo said Round Lake High students are "very accepting" of everyone.
"The kids really truly came together as a school and a class to make a difference for these two young adults," she said.
Last year, Bougest Sutton and Bryant Jenkins were named homecoming king and queen. At the time, Sutton said the pair wanted to make a difference at the school "and do something that has never been done before."