Community rallies behind girl after apparent homecoming court prank

WEST BRANCH, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan community is trying to make things right after a 16-year-old girl was named to a high school homecoming court as part of an apparent prank.

Whitney Kropp told WNEM-TV she felt betrayed after some of her classmates at West Branch's Ogemaw Heights High School suggested that her selection announced this month at the 800-student school was a joke. She said she had been picked on in the past, but it intensified afterward.

"I thought I wasn't worthy at Ogemaw Heights at all," she said.

As word spread, however, community members rallied behind the sophomore. She's expected appear at Friday's homecoming football game. And The Detroit News reports businesses will buy her dinner, take her photo, fix her hair and nails, and dress her in a gown, shoes and a tiara for Saturday's dance.

Whitney's mother Bernice Kropp said the support has helped make a bad situation right in the community about 140 miles northwest of Detroit.

"This was something that was really awful, could have ended awful, and because so many people came together, it just turned right around," she said.

Jamie Kline, 35, started a Facebook support page, which drew hundreds of messages of encouragement. Shannon Champagne, 28, and another beauty salon worker offered their services and asked other businesses to do the same. And Donny Winter, an Ogemaw Heights graduate, made a YouTube video to show his support.

"Bullying cannot be resolved by silence, it has to be resolved by actually stating what's happening and actually saying it's wrong," Winter said.

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