One of the most difficult things about high school is trying to fit in. For some, it comes naturally, and for others, it is one of the biggest challenges in their lives.
At many high schools, homecoming is an event that can be inclusive but can easily alienate.
Being named homecoming king or queen, for instance, is typically a popularity vote.
But at South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, South Carolina, the student body voted with their hearts to name a homecoming king that deserved it the most.
Blake Rice was that student. He has autism and likely faces more challenges and difficulty trying to fit in than most students at South Mecklenburg High.
The reaction from Blake was priceless as he played to the crowd and showed them his appreciation.
He danced. He cheered. He gave out high fives. And he reacted in a way that showed he felt truly honored and included.
The video of Blake’s amazing coronation was posted to Facebook by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and has since been viewed over 130,000 times.
Matthew Rice, Blake’s dad, had a few words to share with the students of South Mecklenburg High School to show his appreciation for their kind actions.
On Facebook, Matthew, who is a teacher at the school, left a comment on the school’s video.
“A year ago, as we were preparing for Blake’s brain surgery, I never could have imagined this moment,” he wrote. “A few weeks ago, a few of you set in motion events that have become in my mind what I can only think of as a referendum on kindness.
“As you know, a referendum is a popular vote on a single question,” he continued. “Often, honors like Homecoming Queen or King can become an exercise in the ‘haves’ and the ‘Have Nots,’ a way to divide the in crowd from the not so in crowd.”
“All who nominated, organized and voted chose to turn what could be an opportunity for exclusion into a celebration of inclusion. It sets you apart. It shows the world just a glimpse of the amazing culture of South Meck. By choosing to honor Blake, you honor the best all of you have to offer this world.
“You chose not the hottest guy, or the richest guy, or the smartest guy. You chose the most unlikely guy, and supported him unconditionally, all of his complications and disabilities in full display and your ROARED your support.
“As a dad, and a Sabre, I couldn’t be more proud of all of you. Not because Blake is my son, but because by choosing a kid like Blake you showed the world that you value above all else, inclusion.
“You showed the world that as Sabres, we celebrate our diversity as our strength. You championed the most vulnerable kid, because to you, it was the right thing to do.
“A student in the stands asked me if I was proud of Blake. I told them I was proud of Blake, but I was even more proud of each and every Sabre student. His place of honor is a reflection not of my values, but yours. You should be very proud of what you showed the world.”
The students of Mecklenburg high school should be commended for their actions of naming Blake to their homecoming king. Their kind actions have shown that when everyone is included and valued, everyone fits in no matter their differences.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.