Everybody knows how cruel teenagers can be, whether you're now cautioning your children against such behavior, or were not long ago in the thick of it.
But at Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Michigan, a 16-year-old girl has become an unlikely inspiration after she became the victim of an elaborate school prank at her expense, and came out on top.
Forbes contributor Bob Cook explains:
The story of Whitney Kropp’s unexpected appointment to the [homecoming court] has become a fantasy for every outsider, every nerd, every bully victim, everyone who’s ever felt out of place as a teenager, about getting the upper hand after you’ve been slapped with it.
Whitney, a 16-year-old sophomore, was surprised she made the court, given that, as she told the Detroit News, she was either scorned or ignored by her classmates for what the newspaper described as her free spirit, her black outfits and her odd hair colors, apparently not common in her town of 2,100...
As it turned out, the idea to put her on the court was a joke, one she was filled in on after her ascension, and after the boy to be paired with her turned in his own crown so he wouldn’t be seen with her. She was devastated. Lacking the telekinetic powers of Stephen King’s Carrie, Whitney, rather than seek revenge, was merely going to stay home from homecoming. [Emphasis added]
The Associated Press narrates what happened next:
Kropp told NBC the joke was particularly painful since she has been bullied for years, but thought she was past the worst of it.
"One year some kids decided to be funny, [decided] to kick me in my shins with steel-toed boots because I was different," she said, seemingly wincing at the memory. "I felt like I wasn't worthy...Why be a part of this community, this world, if I'm just going to be tossed around like a piece of trash?"
Rather sit idly by, members of Kropp's community volunteered to make the teen look her best on homecoming night, and even pack the stands so she would not feel alone.
A 68-year-old grandmother offered to be her escort, but apparently the boy who once seemed ashamed to be seen with Kropp has changed his mind (he also denies those were his motivations).
After her story appeared in the local newspaper and a Facebook page dedicated to her cause garnered twice as many likes as there are people in the town, Forbes relates, the event really kicked off.
“We want to make this the best homecoming ever,” 58-year-old Rebecka Vigus told the Detroit News while waiting for the event to start. She and countless others were apparently holding signs saying "Team Whitney."
Forbes, in an article deeming Kropp an "American hero," concludes:
Whitney Kropp is getting the kind of high school revenge it usually takes 20 years of education, hard work and ladder-climbing to achieve, just so you can show everybody up at the class reunion. Hopefully, the Cinderella story doesn’t end at midnight after the game, with Whitney going back to being the school outcast once the stadium lights dim and the media coverage fades.