The joke is on the mean kids who elected an outcast to homecoming to mock her

The story about the outcast winning homecoming as a joke and turning the tables on her tormenters is getting a lot of mileage on Facebook as a real-life version of  “Carrie” with a much happier ending.

The ending is not quite happy enough for me as little is being said about whether the kids who did this — and it had to be a sizable number — learned anything.

High school students in a rural Michigan farming town decided it would be a kick to elect an unpopular girl to homecoming court, a girl who did not seek the honor or ever dream of it. So word spread to cast a vote for outcast Whitney Kropp.

Whitney was excited with her win — until she discovered that the joke was on her. But the town of West Branch refused to stand by and see the mean-spirited brats get the last laugh. Businesses stepped in to ensure that Whitney goes to homecoming this weekend in style. A Facebook campaign has brought her thousands of good wishes.

I have no problem with the town elevating and lifting Whitney. I just want the architects of this prank dragged through the mud.  I believe that public humiliation — their intent for Whitney –  would be the appropriate punishment, preferably on national television when the morning talk shows descend on the town this week to interview Whitney.

Here are more details from the Detroit News: (Read the full story and the more than 300 comments with it.)

High school student Whitney Kropp was shocked earlier this month when she was named to the homecoming court. Her happy surprise turned to humiliation when she learned the reason. The students thought it would be funny if the popularity contest was won by someone who was unpopular.

Kids pointed at her in the hallways and laughed. The boy who was picked with her withdrew. Students told her that, in case she was wondering why the boy had dropped out, he was uncomfortable being linked with her.

“I thought I wasn’t worthy,” said Kropp, 16. “I was this big old joke.”

Her embarrassment was complete, but it didn’t last long. This tiny farm town an hour north of Saginaw quickly rallied around her.

For the homecoming dance Saturday, businesses will buy her dinner, take her photo, fix her hair and nails, and dress her in a gown, shoes and a tiara. For the homecoming game Friday, residents will pack the football stadium so they can cheer when she is introduced at halftime.

They will be wearing her favorite color (orange) and T-shirts with messages of support. A 68-year-old grandmother offered to be her escort.

“I am in awe, overwhelmed at the amount of support,” said Jamie Kline, 35, who began a Facebook support page. “I never expected it to spread as far as it has.”

For Kropp, a sophomore at Ogemaw Heights High, it’s been a remarkable transformation. Before the homecoming vote, she was either ignored or scorned by classmates. Now, when she isn’t fielding yet another free offer from a business, she’s being lauded by hundreds of strangers on the support page. Cast in an unlikely role, she has embraced it. She vowed to continue representing the sophomore class, even if she has to do it alone.

Kropp was sitting in her geometry class Sept. 13 when the results of the homecoming vote were announced over the school PA system. Most of the students picked as class reps that day were among the most popular kids in the 800-student school. Then, out of the blue, Kropp heard her name.

She hadn’t sought the position. Students were free to vote for anyone in the class. Perhaps her selection should have made her suspicious. She is a free spirit with few friends. Her black outfits and strange hair colors don’t mesh well with other kids in the rural community.

But she has a guilelessness that doesn’t see the bad in people, said her mom, Bernice. Her reaction to winning was simple: She was happy. “The first thing is softhearted,” Bernice Kropp said when asked to describe her daughter. “She’s just sweet. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.”

Kropp heard that other classrooms had laughed when her name was announced. And then Josh Awrey, a popular football player, quickly withdrew as the other sophomore rep.

Despite all that, she was still excited.

“In the Homecoming Court! :) ” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Little nervous but this is going to be fun :D

“Probably not with Josh though,” wrote back a sophomore girl.

“He couldnt do it cause of football plus he never goes to homecoming,” said Kropp.

“That’s not what he told everybody,” said the girl.

“what did he say?” asked Kropp.

The other girl didn’t respond.

“Oh. Well it don’t matter to me anyways,” Kropp wrote four minutes later. “I thought it would be awkward anyways.”

That night, Kropp’s mom found her crying in her bedroom. She no longer wanted to do it.

As a member of the homecoming court, she and other class representatives are dressed formally as they’re introduced during halftime of the football game. Kropp’s mom, sister and grandmother told her that she should show up the bullies by going to the game and having a great time. Several friends said the same thing.

Before going to bed, she decided they were right. “Going to homecoming to show them that I’m not a joke,” she wrote on Facebook. “Im a beautiful person and you shouldn’t mess with me!”

Word of the prank quickly spread through this small town, whose water tower is a yellow smiley face.

Kropp’s sister told her friends, who told their parents, who told their friends.

The Facebook support page was created, quickly drawing hundreds of messages of encouragement. The page has more likes (more than 3,500) than the town has people (2,100). A bank account was opened for Kropp’s homecoming expenses but wasn’t needed. So many businesses donated services that everything was covered.

Shannon Champagne and another beauty salon worker offered their services and asked other businesses to do the same. “It really touched me. I can’t believe that kids can be so mean and ruthless,” said Champagne, 28, a nail tech at Whit’s End Hair Studio. “In high school, everything means everything to you. You don’t realize that none of it will matter after you leave.”

After the uproar in town and on the Web, Awrey, the football player elected with Kropp, changed his mind and decided to remain a class rep.

He said on his Facebook page that he had never wanted to be part of homecoming. “Im sick of everyone blaming me. I had nothing to do with this,” he wrote. “I think what they (students) did is rlly rude and immature.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled

43 comments Add your comment

ByteMe

September 24th, 2012
5:39 pm

The architects will never make themselves known. They are the bullies who do their work by convincing other kids that doing something will be “cool”. Having Kropp succeed beyond anyone’s wildest imagination in spite of the bullies will have to be enough.

VEE

September 24th, 2012
5:51 pm

“you don’t realize that none of it will matter after you leave” – great insight Shannon.

When I attend class functions 40 years later it suprizes me to see the former in crowd just dying to talk to and mingle with everyone else like we’d been friends. At our 20th reunion some of you even asked me if I was sure I’d been in your class. I guess time equalizes the playing field.

mountain man

September 24th, 2012
5:53 pm

They should refuse to let any of the seniors walk and graduate until the perpetrators are outed.

mountain man

September 24th, 2012
5:55 pm

Actually, it would be more fitting if they cancelled homecoming, homecoming dance, and elections of court for five years.

Colonel Jack

September 24th, 2012
5:59 pm

Living well is the best revenge. I hope Whitney lives very, very well.

Pride and Joy

September 24th, 2012
6:58 pm

My, tears are running down my face. Such a terrific, story. Thanks, Maureen, for sharing it. I have just one more wish for her — for Maureen Downey to offer this young lady some advice for writing this story. This young lady can turn this real heartache and triumph into a terrific college application essay — or a movie script.
Such wonderful news. This is the kind of feature story I LOVE to read about in the press.

RA

September 24th, 2012
6:59 pm

Whitney, you hold your head up high and walk into that Homecoming like you own the place. I am so glad this “joke” backfired on those high school jerks that perpetrated this farce. Bravo to the kids and parents that brought it to light. Also, kudos to the local business people that will support her.
FINALLY….some good news. Keep it coming.

catlady

September 24th, 2012
7:18 pm

“Rilly?” I mean, really?

Would be great to isolate the mean kids. There are a lot of them. Imagine my surprise when I overheard a teacher’s kid saying to another, “Let’s play special ed.” The girl was a 4th grader!

Ron F.

September 24th, 2012
8:04 pm

I’m with Colonel Jack- what happens with her life will be the best lesson, especially for those who engineered this. Let them remain anonymous unless they ‘fess up themselves. They’ll have to watch her with all the community support and see how their plans backfired. That will teach them more than any official punishment ever could. God help Whitney live a good life and make good choices.

resno2

September 24th, 2012
8:06 pm

Hey… let’s get the adults involved and cancel homecoming or graduation to out these nasty little buggers just to make a point. What point? That adults are as stupid as teenagers? Administrators in way too many schools across the country have already proven that. West Branch is what they say it is… a small town. They already know who is responsible. Let Whitney enjoy her moment and stay out of it.

Archie

September 24th, 2012
8:27 pm

You never see karma, that great equalizer but she sure does come with some interesting ways to ensure that everyone gets their fair share of what’s coming to them!

Hillbilly D

September 24th, 2012
8:30 pm

Living well is the best revenge.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to “be high class, even when other people aren’t”. It appears that’s what Whitney is doing. Good for her.

Mary Ann

September 24th, 2012
8:39 pm

It’s a shame that no one has yet set up a college fund for this girl. I’d happily donate $20 so the bullies could watch her laugh her way to the university.

Michael

September 24th, 2012
9:13 pm

Maybe we should juet put an end to the whole ridiculous idea of homecoming courts. Do they really have any place in our education system?

ABC

September 24th, 2012
9:30 pm

Who cares what happens in high school. It;s just 4 years of your life.

Most successful people I know weren’t “popular” (whatever the hell that means). But now they are well off, they have beautiful families and a great life.

I really think that the “popular” people tend to peak in high school.

Pride and Joy

September 24th, 2012
9:35 pm

Michael makes a good point — get rid of homecoming courts. They are ridiculous….but we should also do away with football too.

AlreadySheared

September 24th, 2012
10:12 pm

At least she figured it out before they poured a bucket of pigs’ blood on her at the prom – safer for everyone this way.

Dr. Monica Henson

September 24th, 2012
10:37 pm

Go Whitney! And what a great community to rally around her.

Dr. Monica Henson

September 24th, 2012
10:39 pm

And I’m with Maureen on this one–in this day & age, no bully can hide for long when a story gets national attention. I predict we’ll know who the perps are by the end of the week. I hope they get exactly what’s coming to them–shame & humiliation.

Mortimer Collins

September 24th, 2012
11:15 pm

Congrats to Whitney! Agree that the perps should be dragged thru the mud and made to suffer the embarrassment that was intended for Whitney.

“I really think that the “popular” people tend to peak in high school.”

How true. Most of the ball stars, cheerleaders or the “in-crowd” just dont receive the same adoration once they leave high school and are crushed, dismayed by the lack of attention. They tend do much of nothing after high school.

LeeTilson

September 24th, 2012
11:47 pm

Great article. Thanks for sharing.
Let’s tell Whitney Kropp and bullying victims: “We stand with you.”
Sign the petition: http://tinyurl.com/WhitneyKropp
Facebook Strategy Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/StrategiesToStopBullying/
Summary explaining petition http://tinyurl.com/TilsonPetitionForWhitneyKropp

Fred ™

September 25th, 2012
12:45 am

How could they be so mean to such a pretty little girl? Jealousy?

Kat

September 25th, 2012
7:06 am

Josh shouldn’t begin acting like he was “wronged” in this situation. You dropped out because you didn’t want the popular kids to make fun of you. Now, the town is against you, and you are coming back in so you don’t lose your popularity with the townsfolk.

JF McNamara

September 25th, 2012
7:45 am

I would have cancelled homecoming and every other event but graduation.

Laurie

September 25th, 2012
8:02 am

Good for her. My daughter has been a victim of mean girl behavior. It’s no fun, but a part of growing up. People like that usually find themselves friendless after they run out of people to be mean to.

intowner

September 25th, 2012
8:22 am

Only two thoughts – one, this would never be tolerated by other students at my daughter’s high school, much less dreamt of in the first place (and why we decided to send her there), and two, core intown Atlanta is full of the odd little straight and gay outsiders from small towns living quite well.

Have A Smile! ☺☻

September 25th, 2012
8:54 am

She is a free spirit with few friends. Her black outfits and strange hair colors don’t mesh well with other kids in the rural community.

I don’t understand. In the photos I saw when I looked her up she looks pretty normal & cute, not like a goth.

Oh well, all’s well that ends well.

Too bad she has to go to school with a bunch of douchebags. But this kind of stuff is certainly not rare, just getting more attention thanks to social media, Facebook, etc., and the media hopping on the “bullying” bandwagon for stories.

Mountain Man

September 25th, 2012
8:58 am

At least in “Carrie”, the perpetrators got their just deserts (unfortunately a lot of innocent people died too).

[...] Oh, my. September 25, 2012 | Posted by: Frank | Posted in: Words Fail Me | Bookmark this post QOTD » [...]

Mountain Man

September 25th, 2012
9:00 am

Also in “Carrie” (the book), the popular football player elected Homecoming KIng actually accepted her and admired her (unlike this real-life story where the jack*ss resigns from the post just so he won’t have to stand next to her).

Mountain Man

September 25th, 2012
9:02 am

“After the uproar in town and on the Web, Awrey, the football player elected with Kropp, changed his mind and decided to remain a class rep.

He said on his Facebook page that he had never wanted to be part of homecoming. “Im sick of everyone blaming me. I had nothing to do with this,” he wrote. “I think what they (students) did is rlly rude and immature.”

Yeah, but initially he DID drop out. So that makes him part of the problem.

mystery poster

September 25th, 2012
9:45 am

I dunno, this story did not exactly leave me with a “feel good” vibe. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but there was something unsettling about it.

Anyone else?

Frankie

September 25th, 2012
10:17 am

ANd had she decided to really get back at them by doing the columbine thing this would be a whole different story.
Good for her and the people who support her. I hope they find the idiots who decided to pull this prank and call an assembly and suspend them infront of the entire school….

Prof

September 25th, 2012
10:49 am

@ mystery poster. I too found it unsettling, for the ones who rallied around Whitney Knopp were the adults of the town, who thus included the parents of those who were so cruel to her. But her teen-aged peers remain, probably ready to act the same way to the next social outcast they see. Rather sinister, really.

Once Again

September 25th, 2012
12:17 pm

So this is the kind of “socialization” that homeschooled kids are missing out on?

Local girl

September 25th, 2012
1:03 pm

I guess I feel the same way about this story that I always feel whenever adults force kids to apologize to one another. Growing up, I never wanted anyone to make another kid apologize to me. It was always completely disengenuous and usually just made things worse (and I wasn’t even a target for mean kids). It’s great that all of these adults are rallying around this girl, and I hope it is making her feel better. But honestly, it’s probably just fueling the other students’ dislike. Hopefully there are a few good kids who got sucked into this who will end up learning a great lesson, but my guess is that the true culprits won’t learn their lesson until they are adults looking back (if then). By then it will be far too late for a meaningful apology.

another comment

September 25th, 2012
1:12 pm

My beautiful 18 year old daughter has been Cheer leading since the Kindergarten over in the Smyrna area. She has cheered from Kindergarten in Pop Warner to High School on teams where the maximum number of white cheerleaders have been 3. During high school she has been the only blonde, blue eyed cheer leader. To make matters worse, but my naive child doesn’t realize the two 4 or 5 A recruited players both want her to be their Cheerleader, not anyone else. So the two with the prospect to make the NFL want the pretty white girl, to be their private cheerleader. She naively agreed to be for both. I went to saw her cheer Friday, she was always the featured flyier as she is the lightest member of the team 100-103 lbs although as a senior she is now 5-2. She is back spotting. I asked her why. She said I can’t trust them to keep me up. So instead we are holding up a girl who is 2 inches taller and 20 lbs heaver.

I have had years of my daughter boo hooing as to why she was never has been picked for Homecoming queen. Or why she has never been choosen for Cheerleading Captain. It is finally this year her senior year, that she has dropped it from her list of goals. Now she says she just wants to be able to say that she was a 4 year cheer leader in high school and has 3 Varsity leaders. She purposely, did not even try out for the competion team this year. She didn’t want to spend 5 months in a boot and rehab like last year, after the viscous competition on the team didn’t catch her correctly. The coach even asked my why a natural, cheerleader didn’t even try out for the competiton cheerleading team. I just responded, she is doing dual enrollment and working to save money for college. The chance of maybe getting a 1/4 cheerleading scholarship, when you will get the hope scholarship, and will be at least a semester ahead with dual enrollment are not worth the injuries.

Girls are very, mean. Then boys can be very mean. Last year my daughter dated the “star” ball player and then dumped him, when after season, he just wanted her to drive him home from school and give him “BJ’s”. She dumped him, saying she would not do it. He then spread rumors around school she was doing more than that, and that she was a B. He had his Boyz, come up to her in the hall calling her all sorts of names.

Warrior Woman

September 25th, 2012
2:45 pm

I can’t believe how many people on this blog want to punish the innocent along with the guilty. It’s ridiculous, really. As resno2 said, that’s just proving that adults can be just as bullying as kids, and with much less excuse.

Lynn

September 25th, 2012
3:48 pm

@another comment — Your comments are a little off topic, don’t you think?

Just A Teacher

September 26th, 2012
2:19 pm

I’ll take another approach to this topic. I don’t believe there should be any homecoming court at all. The whole process reminds me of farmers showing off their prize bulls and heifers. “Vote for Suzie; she’s the best looking Holstein in the herd!” What does any of that have to do with learning?

[...] case — which we discussed earlier this week – has attracted supporters worldwide. Whitney was elected to the homecoming court at her [...]

Motherhawk

September 29th, 2012
12:37 pm

She comes form a rural town. There is a rural -urban divide in this country and these rural towns are filled with hateful Tea Party Republicans. It has now become cool to be mean. Personally I think it started with Bush approving torture. Of course there have always been bullies; interesting that Romney was one in high school. But to get such high voter participation in this incident, something has gone wrong on a larger scale.

Karen

October 1st, 2012
9:42 pm

Interesting that Josh Awrey became supportive after the media storm.