|Royalty: Gull Lake High School's Homecoming King and Queen, Pat Gaudard and Alex Milan pose side-by-side in their gold and silver crowns|
|Miss popular: While spending half of her time in a special education classroom, Alex, seen on the arm of Pat, is known by all students who describe her as spirited and charismatic|
Popular, funny, and often seen on the arm of one of her high school's football players, classmates of Alex Milan say it was a given she'd be voted this year's homecoming queen.
What they don’t say was a factor, however, was her physical disability: Down Syndrome.
'Everybody knows her and she's so charismatic ... she's always trying to cheer people up,' Gull Lake Senior Khelsea Younker in Richland, Michigan, told MLive.com.
A student within Gull Lake Community Schools since the sixth grade, despite spending part of her day in a special-education classroom, everyone’s said to know her as the spirited, highlight in the halls.
'I think everyone kind of knew she was our homecoming queen from the start,' Homecoming King Pat Gaudard said while seated beside Alex and her friends.
'...that's her personality, she's a princess,' he said to Alex’s blushing squeeze into his arm.
In a landslide victory battling nine other girls for the crown, it was during half-time of their homecoming game last Friday that Alex took to the football field to receive a sparkling tiara, wand and an arm full of red roses beside Pat.
'Every day she comes in and tells me she wants to be the queen and wear the crown,' her special education teacher Tasha Harrison at Gull Lake told WWMT.
|All her: Classmates of Alex, seen walking with her in the halls, say that the high school senior's disability had nothing to do with her votes but that it was all her personality and charm|
Having readied a camcorder to capture the moment Alex heard her name voted to the homecoming court – showing the astonished 18-year-old clapping and racing from her chair around the room – Alex’s popularity was already well known by Ms Harrison making her win perhaps less of a surprise, though no less than an absolute joy.
‘She’s just a magnet. People just want to be around her because of her personality and because of her charisma. People stop by the room all the time and just want to say hi to Alex,’ she said.
'She's so friendly and definitely loves everybody and I think that's a great way to represent Gull Lake,' student Hadlee Hoeksema said.
'We didn't nominate her because she has Down Syndrome. We nominated her because she's the nicest person in our class'
- classmates of Alex to her mother
Alex's mother Jodie Milan says she can attest to that from the countless text messages received from her daughter's friends congratulating her win.
'They were saying, "We didn't nominate her because she has Down Syndrome. We nominated her because she's the nicest person in our class,"' Mrs Milan said. 'It's nice that they look away from the disability and see her as a real person.'
Beginning a magical day for the school's young queen, a limo donated by a community resident drove Alex and her friends to lunch before taking them to have their nails, makeup and hair done - all services donated to the girls.
What made the event far more memorable, however, was Alex's escort onto the field.
Arm-in-arm, her father Jeff Milan escorted his daughter out, himself suffering terminal lymphoma.
Welcoming them was a standing ovation.
'There was not a dry eye anywhere,' Mrs Milan said of the night.
'What they did for Alex is a huge thing. It's something they should feel proud of their entire lives,' Gull Lake teacher and interim Vice Principal Matt Hawkins told MLive. ‘There's very few times in an educational career where you see such a large group of kids have this many staff people moved to tears.’
'I've had a lot of parents come up to me and say "Gosh thank you so much for the opportunity to have them learn from Alex and having her around us,’ Mrs Milan said with her voice cracking, ‘and that I think is important.'
|Beloved: Alex's special education teacher says students will frequently come around asking specially just to see Alex|