SYCAMORE – The cheers at Sycamore High School erupted when Jake Hickey and Sydney Milner were crowned the 2013 homecoming king and queen during halftime of the varsity football game Oct. 18.
“It was awesome. Everybody was going nuts,” said music teacher Drayton Eggleson, who is a student council adviser. “I think everyone was just so happy because everybody knows Sydney and Jake, and they are two of the happiest kids in the school.”
Hickey, who has Down syndrome, has been active in a variety of activities throughout his high school years and is the football team’s water boy. Milner is hearing and sight impaired, but she still says ‘hi’ to everyone.
The seniors were nominated to the homecoming court by their peers in the Best Buddies club, which pairs disabled students with students who do not have impairments for many school and social activities.
Each of the school’s 42 clubs, sports and activity groups nominated a king and queen candidate, and after the student body voted to select five boys and five girls to the homecoming court, another round of voting determined the king and queen. The winners were announced during halftime of the homecoming game.
“Both of their votes were just landslides,” Eggleson said.
“They clapped,” Hickey said of the crowd’s reaction when he was announced as the homecoming king.
His schoolmates were especially enthusiastic.
“They said ‘that’s cool’ and ‘good job,’” Hickey said.
Milner’s sign language interpreter, Amy Falk, relayed the good news.
“It feels great and awesome,” Milner said through Falk. “It feels like a dream. I am smiling.”
Both students are in two of special education teacher Liz Stump’s classes. She was not surprised by the magnanimous gesture of the student body, but she stressed that the vote was in no way a sympathy vote.
“They are very cool kids and that their peers see this and know this is amazing, and nobody thinks twice about it,” Stump said. “The entire student body is amazing. I have taught in other schools in other states, and Sycamore is just very special.”