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Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2010

A crowning achievement: FSHS homecoming opens new door

Owen Phariss waves to the crowd after being crowned homecoming king during halftime of Free State’s football game Friday night. Audrey Hughes, left, and Rachel Heeb, right, tied for homecoming queen honors. Free State lost the football game to Shawnee Mission East, 28-21.

Owen Phariss waves to the crowd after being crowned homecoming king during halftime of Free State’s football game Friday night. Audrey Hughes, left, and Rachel Heeb, right, tied for homecoming queen honors. Free State lost the football game to Shawnee Mission East, 28-21.

October 2, 2010

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King, queen crowned for Free State homecoming

Free State High School kicked off homecoming festivities by selecting a king and queen for the event. It was the first time students with disabilities were allowed on the ballot. Enlarge video

On the street

Did you participate in homecoming events in high school?

I didn’t participate a lot, but I went to homecoming. It was always fun to go.

More responses

Owen Phariss recieves a hug from Audrey Hughes as his mother, Nancy Holmes celebrates, after Phariss was named homcoming king Friday night during halftime of the Free State football game against Shawnee Mission East. Hughes played a huge role in getting Phariss on the ballot for homecoming king.

Owen Phariss recieves a hug from Audrey Hughes as his mother, Nancy Holmes celebrates, after Phariss was named homcoming king Friday night during halftime of the Free State football game against Shawnee Mission East. Hughes played a huge role in getting Phariss on the ballot for homecoming king.

From left, Nancy Holmes, Owen Phariss, Bob Hughes and Audrey Hughes react as Phariss is named homecoming king during halftime of Free State's football game Friday night. Audrey, who was insturmental in getting Phariss on the ballot, was next announced as one of the two homecoming queens.

From left, Nancy Holmes, Owen Phariss, Bob Hughes and Audrey Hughes react as Phariss is named homecoming king during halftime of Free State's football game Friday night. Audrey, who was insturmental in getting Phariss on the ballot, was next announced as one of the two homecoming queens.

Owen Phariss is crowned homecoming king during halftime of Free State's football game Friday night.

Owen Phariss is crowned homecoming king during halftime of Free State's football game Friday night.

Owen Phariss points to a friend as he waits in line with his mother, Nancy Holmes, to be announced at the beginning of Free State's homecoming ceremony Friday night during halftime of Free State's football game. Phariss would be named homecoming king.

Owen Phariss points to a friend as he waits in line with his mother, Nancy Holmes, to be announced at the beginning of Free State's homecoming ceremony Friday night during halftime of Free State's football game. Phariss would be named homecoming king.

As the public address announcer named the 2010 Free State High School homecoming king, Nancy Holmes said it felt as if her heart had jumped out of her chest. Her son Owen Phariss, a senior at Free State, was voted king by his classmates Friday night — a vote that took more than 800 signatures to cast.

“I’m just so happy, so proud. He’s going to talk about this forever,” said Holmes.

Owen’s coronation almost didn’t happen. A previous school policy kept the names of disabled students off the ballot. “When we found out what happened we just knew it was wrong,” said fellow senior Aly Frydman.

Frydman and fellow classmates Audrey Hughes, Bailey Knowlton and Connor Caldwell collected signatures, approached the administration and had the rule changed. A few days later Owen and several other students were voted to the court, but on Friday there could only be one winner.

“I love all my friends at Free State,” Owen said as he shared a victory hug with Frydman, Knowlton and Hughes.

“We love you too, Owen,” the girls replied in unison.

You would think Owen would be the happiest to receive the crown, but it meant as much or more to his friends. “Him winning tonight is the best moment of my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Knowlton.

Holmes said that what makes Owen’s story so extraordinary was the fact that it was his peers who asked that the rule be changed. “If they hadn’t have done anything, nothing would have ever been changed. It would be the same as it ever was and anybody with a disability wouldn’t have been able to be nominated.”

As the old saying goes, “to the victor go the spoils.” In Owen’s case, that meant having two homecoming queens — Hughes and Rachel Heeb — on his arm thanks to a tie, a historic first for Free State.

“Two girls, that’s Owen,” laughed Holmes and Knowlton.

A fairy tale ending to a night fit for a king.

Homecoming Candidates 2010

Males

Patrick Carttar

Devante Green

Tony Libeer

Will Libeer

Evan Manning

Cale Nieder

David Nichols

Steve Norris

Jordan Parsons

Calvert Pfannenstiel

Owen Phariss

Sebastian Schoneich

Females

Kelcy Bowers

Cali Brasseur

Emily Cormack

Hayley Francis

Ally Frydman

Lexi Griffith

KyAnne Hall

Rachel Heeb

Audrey Hughes

Erin Ice

Annie Libeer

Reilly Moore

Comments

Chughes 4 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations to everyone on the FSHS Homecoming Court! A huge thanks to the adminstration and Mr. Springer for organizing the fun activities throughout the week for the students! It all started Monday night with a bonfire and culminated Friday night at the halftime ceremony with an historic ending! Two beautiful queens and the happiest King EVER! Firebirds definitely have spirit!

hilary 4 years, 2 months ago

I totally agree. Best homecoming week I've ever experienced. I'm so proud to be a Firebird!

Monty Amick 4 years, 2 months ago

I've know Owen for many many years. A fine young Man!!! Congratulation Owen!!!

commuter 4 years, 2 months ago

Owen is a fine young man.

I think the students who "FOUGHT" for this rule chnage should be praised and should feel a great sense of accomplishment.

sunflowerhue 4 years, 2 months ago

Just an FYI, not all disabled or special ed kids were left off of the ballot. There were rules about the number of core classes someone needed to take, etc. to be a candidate. In the first round of voting, a kid with autism made the court. I guess he took the right number of core classes and besides that, is very involved at all FState activities, etc.

hello2you 4 years, 2 months ago

It shouldn't matter how many core classes you take all Seniors should be included! Glad your friend was on the court and that he is so involved in Free State High School. He should be very proud as well as his parents. Besides no one is "too low funtioning to be included" as a vice principal said.

nobodyssister 4 years, 2 months ago

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sunflowerks54 4 years, 2 months ago

What a wonderful gift and victory for all the FSHS students. I hope that LHS and all other area schools follow suite!

equalaccessprivacy 4 years, 2 months ago

This is a great rule-change and a wonderful victory for Owen and his friends. People are more than labels though. Please don't let stereotypes rule. Most people just want to be treated like human beings and like everyone else. No one enjoys being patronized or self-flatteringly chosen out for special attention by those-- often complete strangers--who are so insecure and full of southern-influenced white Christian guilt they prey on anyone who they perceive as being lower than they on the scale of social value to feel like a hero and a helper at the expense of others' dignity and equal rights. Please rescind and stop imposing such outmoded notions of struggle on the world. The problem is this attitude and backward social norm not those with perceived physical or intellectual limitations.

ECM 4 years, 2 months ago

Way to be a hypocrit. You encourage people to not let stereotypes rule and then you stereotype individuals you feel are responsible for this situation. Last time I looked no souther influenced anybody inacted this rule.

Irenaku 4 years, 2 months ago

I love this story! This would have NEVER happened at my high-school (25 years ago), not because of the time period, but because of the kind of people that attended my school and were most often in the dazzle of prom, homecoming etc. I am really inspired that these kids took the initiative to have all people recognized as having a part in this, not just the chosen few. Kudos!!!

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

Is it even possible to look at these photographs and not smile? Way to go Owen, and well done Free State students!

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

As someone who has never lived in the South, I would agree.

beatrice 4 years, 2 months ago

agree it is an insult, that is. (just to be clear)

equalaccessprivacy 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, sorry, but try putting yourself in the shoes of those who get terrorized on the local streets by smug strangers with zero empathy or understanding who get way too personal and insultingly intrusive from reasons that boil down to offensive profiling and stereotyping. Freedom of movement is a human right, and aggressive residents of backwater places who nose up in other people's business represent a sort of mob attack on the common decency (and written law)of equal and fair human rights. Obviously, such persons have been mindlessly trained up to behave this way and to represent themselves in an offensive "I'm O.K., You're not O.K. way to complete strangers who don't deserve to get their day(or their lives) ruined by incompetents and random public safety hazards. The appraisal theory of emotions suggests many will react to this type of random approach on the streets as the insult and safety hazard it is. As soon as you suggest they are kissing to kill and not succeeding at any personal smarmy drama of kindness these people tend to turn into frighteningly rabid attack dogs. Their moral impulses run really deep.

inatux 4 years, 2 months ago

"A previous school policy kept the names of disabled students off the ballot."

I hate this school district. What in the world is wrong with this place? I have (very) young kids and the thought of them going to Lawrence public schools turns my stomach.

sickofdummies 4 years, 2 months ago

My suggestion to you would be to work to change it. Dont sit back and complain. Take a lesson from these kids. If you dont agree with something, be instrumental in changing it. Otherwise, you could always pay for private school...or move.

inatux 4 years, 2 months ago

I haven't ruled out private or homeschooling.

I truly believe this school district might be too corrupt to change.

sickofdummies 4 years, 2 months ago

Private or homeschooling is fine. As to your other comment, I find that sad. I really think the attitude of 'I cant do anything, so why try?' is a sad excuse to sit back and do nothing. If you feel strongly about something, put forth the work and hope for the best. You certainly cant change anything by sitting on your hands. Do you want your childen to see you sit back and complain, or do something to provide them with the best education possible. I'm just sayin...

sickofdummies 4 years, 2 months ago

I might add, that as the article points out, it was in this 'corrupt district' that 800 students not only recognized that something was wrong, but made the decision to do something about it. And look what happened! Good for them for doing the right thing. I sure am glad that they didn't just complain about it! Way to go, kids!

Eileen Emmi Jones 4 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence has fantastic schools. I feel lucky that my kids arrived here in time to attend for a few years.

sniff16 4 years, 2 months ago

The Lawrence school district is amazing, wonderful, and one of the best in the state. I personnally have experienced other districts in the state and they do not compare. Your children would be better off going to school in Lawrence but they would also be better off without you as a parent

friendlyjhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations to Owen and all the students for this small victory over all the prejudice and bullying in the this world.

Eileen Emmi Jones 4 years, 2 months ago

I am proud of the students at Free State High and thrilled at what they accomplished.

deec 4 years, 2 months ago

This is such an awesome counterpoint to the horrifying story of Tyler Clementi earlier in the week. I've posted it to facebook, and hope you will, too.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 2 months ago

Owen’s coronation almost didn’t happen. A previous school policy kept the names of disabled students off the ballot. “When we found out what happened we just knew it was wrong,” said fellow senior Aly Frydman. Frydman and fellow classmates Audrey Hughes, Bailey Knowlton and Connor Caldwell collected signatures, approached the administration and had the rule changed. A few days later Owen and several other students were voted to the court, but on Friday there could only be one winner. “I love all my friends at Free State,” Owen said as he shared a victory hug with Frydman, Knowlton and Hughes.

---you kids, along with the oher 797+ who signed the petition, congratulations!
when you saw a wrong, you organized, communicated motivated, and forced change!

I am so proud that you live in my community.

You are examples to all of us!


Whoa! Bea, radical extreme feminist, didn't react to the girls in the story being referred to as "spoils" to the victor!

Bea must be softening in her old age, or getting slow?

DrRustinMcGillicuddy 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm really proud of Free State right now. This was a really good thing, this kid will remember the kindness of these students for the rest of the life.

sjbhtwin 4 years, 2 months ago

As long as this is not a mockery of students with disabilities, congrats to Owen. In my days of high school, this would have been a complete joke to make fun of those with disabilities. Don't be too quick to judge the LFSHS administration for not putting their names on the ballot. They might have been trying to prevent hurt feelings and save some embarrassment. Years ago, it would have been done as a joke. Times have changed and I applaud those who want to make changes as long as it is truly sincere. Georgetown, Texas recently named students with disabilities as homecoming queen and king. I hope this is all done with the utmost of integrity.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, yeah, yeah...this is great, this is wonderful; warm fuzzies all around.

What about the poor jocks with their nice cars? For many who don't make it past college football these are their glory days they'll be talking about for the rest of their lives. This young man will undoubtedly go on to do great things with his life. The jocks that lost will now have one less story to tell when they're sitting around drinking beer with the guys.

The guys with thick necks have feelings too you know. I guess one extra story about how a football injury kept them out of the NFL will have to suffice.....

Dixie Jones 4 years, 2 months ago

ahh right wing did you not get the attention you thought you deserved in high school ? did you not get to go on and play football? im sure you were the one making fun of the students who were LOWER than you.. scum

SkiddleKiddles 4 years, 2 months ago

This is such a fantastic picture. LJWorld, you should submit this photo to any wire service, CNN, etc., out there. It is a winner.

ModSquadGal 4 years, 2 months ago

CONGRATS OWEN!!!! I've known this great kiddo for 8 years and he truly deserves this honor. And to the students who helped make it happen, you are amazing and we all feel you share in the celebration! SO COOL!!!!! :)

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