Jessica Giddens has been involved with drama and other creative outlets at Lakeside High School, so when the budding playwright/actress heard her name announced as homecoming queen during the weekend, she was ready for the spotlight.
She raised both arms in triumph, then blew kisses to the crowd. The spectators who cheered loudly when she was introduced as a candidate roared when the decision was announced.
Her father, John, was her escort and was proud to be out there with his daughter, who has Down syndrome.
“She surprised me with her wave out there,” he said. “She must have been practicing when we weren’t looking.”
After 2011 homecoming queen Rebecca Boland placed the tiara on her head, Jessica gave a practiced wave to the throng that would have made the most experienced royal jealous.
“I was surprised, and I was so happy,” Jessica said. “The best part is being with everybody and being here with my dad. I love him so much.”
Giddens called his daughter an inspiration to his family and, he hoped, to those at Lakeside.
“The kids here at Lakeside High School have been so supportive of Jessica and our family for the last four years since she’s been here,” he said. “This is just a wonderful conclusion to her career here at Lakeside. I think that she shows that any kid can achieve any goal if they set their mind to it.”
First runner-up Karla Valcourt said just being named to the homecoming court was something she would remember the rest of her life and that she was happy Jessica was named queen.
“I think that it shows how respectful our school is, to realize that Jessica is a great person,” Karla said. “And she’s not different than any of us.”
She wasn’t surprised by Jessica’s reaction to becoming queen.
“That’s Jessica. She’s a diva,” Karla said, laughing.
Second runner-up Susan Brands also was elated.
“She deserved it,” Susan said. “Everyone loves her.”