Photo courtesy of Hauser High School Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of Hauser High School Facebook page.

Picture this: A young girl, maybe two or three, and imagine a little girl wearing a pretty, pink, princess dress. Can you see it? I can, but that’s because I lived it. My dress had “memories,” grass stains from playing outside. I never wanted to take it off. My mom recounts that childhood story. After my daily adventures, that consisted of saving the world and fighting a dragon, I would go inside to continue my royal responsibilities.

For as long as I can remember, Disney and the princesses have always fascinated me. I dreamed of the day I would become a princess myself. Something about those plastic crowns and itchy dresses made me feel empowered. These stories made me want to seize the day. My classmate, Jackson Paradise, experienced a similar childhood… just minus the sparkly dresses, tiaras, and all of the princess movies. He spent his childhood watching Spider-Man and fighting his own dragons. Jackson says, “It was [Spider-Man] that made me think I could do whatever I tried.” Jackson and I eventually grew up to become our own determined heroes. And, we believe we can change the world. However, we didn’t know that we would get to be part of small-town royalty when we were crowned Homecoming King and Queen this year at Hauser.

Hauser Jr./Sr. High School hosts a Homecoming basketball game annually. Every year, two seniors are crowned king and queen. The court is created based on the votes of the students at the school. In total, there were two couples from the freshman, sophomore, and junior class, but the seniors have a total of four girls and four guys. While some see this ceremony as a popularity contest, its focus is on individuals who impact the school positively through good behavior.

We are continuously cognizant of the ways in which these ceremonies honor not only those recognized, but also our Hauser and Hope community. During the ceremony, nominee John Bragg won the cutest baby contest. All proceeds went to Riley Hospital in support of Joe Newcomb and Sarah Taylor, as they continue their battles with cancer. Melanie Taylor and Elijah Heslop were the first runners up for King and Queen. These two individuals continuously strive to make people feel a sense of belonging and acceptance at Hauser. This year, I, Leah Joyce, and my fellow classmate, Jackson Paradise, were crowned homecoming King and Queen. I couldn’t believe that I had won. All those childhood memories came rushing back. Jackson said, “I was confident I had a chance, but I also knew all of the other nominees were each capable of winning. So, being crowned was a really humbling experience for me.” We realized that this night wasn’t just a reflection of one high school experience; it was a reflection of our entire high school experience.

These last four years, I focused on my performance in sports and my academic studies. Throughout this entire time, my parents completely supported my choices, even when they were probably tired of driving me to and from practices and club meetings. During my senior year, I had to withdraw myself from cross-country, basketball, and softball due to injury. This was immensely hard. During this rough patch of my senior year, my parents continue to be my biggest cheerleaders in life. Similarly, Jackson states, “I know after each game, good or bad, they’ll [his parents] have my back. And, if I had a bad game, they’ll let me react. Then, they’ll hype me up. But, all in all, it’s the constant support that they have given me that’s impacted me the most.”

From the bottom of our hearts, Jackson and I would like to thank all the people who have encouraged us during our high school experience (and during our lifetimes). This includes the staff, students, and the community members, and our supportive parents, who encourage us to change the world every day.