When Whitney Kropp’s classmates voted her onto homecoming court, she simply couldn’t believe it. Her celebrations were short-lived, however, when she learned that her nomination was a prank. But instead of succumbing to suicidal thoughts, the brave teen fought back, and it was the pranksters who ended up with egg on their faces.
Whitney Kropp comes from West Branch, Michigan, and in 2012 she was just an average 16-year-old who attended Ogemaw Heights High School. Still, Whitney considered herself somewhat of an “outcast” and felt different to many of her classmates.
Initially, this may have been down to what was seen as her unusual height. “I was bullied as a kid for being tall, but then I wasn’t picked on until high school,” she later explained. What happened in high school? Well, it seems that her peers didn’t always welcome her individuality.
For instance, Whitney enjoyed dyeing her hair every color of the rainbow. And while her contemporaries preferred to listen to whatever was cool at the time, she was a devotee of Adam Lambert. As a result, Whitney often found herself the victim of cruel jibes.
But in the fall of 2012 Whitney learned that her fellow pupils had elected her to homecoming court. She was astonished, especially since she only had a handful of close friends at the school. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she would receive such an honor.
However, Whitney’s joy was short-lived. To her horror, she later discovered that her classmates had nominated her as a prank. According to The Detroit News, her peers “thought it would be funny if the popularity contest was won by someone who was unpopular.”
To make matters worse, it felt as if the entire school was in on the so-called joke. Apparently, some of her fellow students even pointed and laughed at her in the corridors. Others seemingly took great delight in telling her that a boy who was also nominated dropped out for fear of being associated with her.
Understandably, the prank left Whitney utterly heartbroken. In fact, the teenager returned home that night and fell into a pit of despair. She cried the night away and even considered taking her own life right then and there, according to CNN.
In 2012 Whitney said, “I’m like, ‘Wow, I feel like trash.’ I feel like I’m a little thing that no one really cares about.” However, Whitney couldn’t have been more wrong about that, as the days that followed her awful ordeal proved.
It all started when Whitney opened up to her sister, Alivia, about what had happened. “It’s very hard to see someone hurt and upset,” Alivia later revealed. “You want to do everything in your power to make sure they’re not that way.” So she devised a plan.
The supportive sister told Whitney that she should go to homecoming anyway in a display of defiance to her mean bullies. “I told her, ‘You’ve got the courage, you’ve got the strength to go do it, so go do it and have fun,’” Alivia said.
However, Whitney was not that easily convinced. So Alivia started to rally up support for her devastated sister. Indeed, a Facebook group named Support Whitney Kropp was established and before long it had attracted over 96,000 supporters.
And that wasn’t the only way people got behind Whitney. After hearing her story, local businesses inundated the teen with offers of homecoming gowns and shoes. Meanwhile, hairdresser Shannon Champagne provided Whitney with a makeover for free.
Explaining her generous offer, Champagne told People in 2012, “Every girl looks forward to being on that homecoming court and for her name to be called. For her to be so excited about that and then just to find out it was all a joke, it really touched me.”
The kind gestures from total strangers restored Kropp’s faith in humanity. “I thought before, ‘Oh, no one cares about me,’” she told CNN. “I thought not even my own brother and sister care. But they’re proving me they do care. The world is proving they do, well, not really care about me, but they care about the situation. So I’m happy. I’m really honored.”
With her community solidly behind her, Whitney decided to attend her homecoming coronation after all. The ceremony took place during half-time at a school football match. There, the crowd welcomed the teen onto the field with a rapturous cheer.
Somehow, with a little help from her friends and family, Whitney had managed to turn a negative experience into a positive one. “I had thoughts about not coming,” she admitted. “I just thought maybe I won’t have fun, but I’m having actually a lot of fun right now. I’m so happy – this is so much right now for me.”
And it was a proud moment for her mom, too. “It is absolutely awesome to see her stand up,” Bernice Kropp beamed. “And it’s so cool to see emails we’re getting from parents and other students from all over the place telling her stories and how it helped them and it touched them. My daughter is out there as an inspiration to a lot of people, and it’s a really cool thing.”
But while homecoming was over all too quickly, the attention surrounding Whitney did not wane so easily. Her story soon went international, and her family found themselves bombarded with interview requests from the media. Somehow, though, Whitney managed to keep her feet on the ground.
With her newfound celebrity, Whitney hoped to become an anti-bullying advocate. When asked what she’d say to other kids who felt picked on, she told People, “Stand up for what you believe in and go with your heart and go with your gut. That’s what I did, and look at me now. I’m just as happy as can be!”