The worst-kept secret floating around Green Hope High School on homecoming Friday? The identities of the homecoming king and queen.
Often there’s buzz and speculation leading up to that fateful halftime ceremony, when the roses and sashes are finally dispensed and decades of tradition are honored.
But just about everyone at Green Hope that Friday, even as the whole homecoming court was trotted out during a pep rally, knew who would walk away with the crowns.
That is, except for the happy couple themselves, Gianna Giambalvo and Jacob Gutierrez. Happy being the operative word, because both were in happy-just-to-be-nominated mode.
“I’m not nervous,” Gianna said. “I’m pretty excited about it. It’s my dream.”
Since she started at Green Hope, Gianna, now a senior, showed interest in the homecoming king and queen tradition, peppering her sister, Nicolette, also a Green Hope senior, with questions about it.
“So I said to her this year, ‘Would you like to be nominated,'” Nicolette said. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, yes.'”
So Nicolette did what all the kids do these days: She took to Twitter. Before long she had more than 1,000 retweets and favorites. Jacob’s little sister, Anna, got similar response to her Twitter campaign. For good measure, Nicolette walked down the halls calling out, “Who are you voting for for homecoming queen? Vote for my sister!”
And voila: Gianna and Jacob won in a landslide.
“This whole school has embraced them,” said Esther Giambalvo, Gianna’s mom. “The kids are great here.”
“It’s not what I expected,” Nicolette said of the outpouring of popular support from her classmates.
“I think it’s really nice that they know of their disability and say, ‘Of course I want them to win. It’ll make them so happy.'”
The H-word again.
Gianna and Jacob, who have Down’s Syndrome, have been friends since they met in 5th grade at Turner Creek and have, Nicolette says, “sort of dated.”
“Jacob is a very nice guy,” Nicolette said. “I love him.”
They were introduced last at the pep rally and got by far the biggest roar from the packed gymnasium. They beamed and blushed after completing their brief little dance out on the floor. They were happy, and yet it was just the prelude to their coronation that night, when they’d be let in on the secret everyone else already knew.
“She’s going to be talking about this,” Nicolette said, “for years.”
Click HERE to learn more about Disability History & Awareness Month at WCPSS and this year’s theme of “discoverability.”