The parents of two exceptional education students at LaGrange High School are elated after students chose the two as their 2014 Prom King and Prom Queen.
Thomas Wilder was named Prom King and Heather Hendrix named Prom Queen at LaGrange High School on March 22. Heather is the daughter of Dee and Kevin Hendrix, and Thomas is the son of Gary and Laurie Wilder.
“She first told me about a month or so ago when the nominating ballots came out. She told me that she was nominated,” said Dee Hendrix. “… She asked, ‘Golly, do you think I could win?’ I’m like, ‘sure you can do anything.’”
The future prom queen even dreamed about being honored at prom.
“She came up that morning, the morning of prom, and she told my husband, ‘Daddy, I dreamed I was going to be the prom princess,” Dee Hendrix said. “… He said ‘I just sure hope you are, you are a princess anyway.’”
The prom day was a long one for the couple. Gary Wilder said they got his son’s tuxedo at 3 p.m., then Thomas and Heather were off to take pictures at Hills and Dales, ate dinner and then Thomas grandfather chauffeured them to prom that evening.
Gary Wilder said it was Thomas’ first prom and it was “a big deal” for him to go. Although he knew the couple was unlikely to stay for a long time.
“We set a time to leave at 10, and I wondered if they’d make it that long,” Gary Wilder said.
“Thomas is a big time person, and I told him you can’t just go and leave, you have to stay until at least 10 o’clock,” Dee Hendrix said.
In an unfortunate twist, they made it to 10 p.m., leaving just before the announcement that they were named prom king and queen.
“So they stayed until 10 o’clock and then left. Then at 10 after 10, they announced the winners and they weren’t there,” Dee Hendrix said.
About the time Heather was dropped off at home, Dee Hendrix received a call from an administrator telling her the news.
“She said, ‘I wanted to let you know they announced the prom queen and king and Heather and Thomas just won it,” Hendrix said. “I was like, ‘what?’ And she said, ‘Yes, we looked all around for them and another teacher said they just left.’”
It was a bittersweet moment for the Hendrixes, elated over the win, but realizing Heather had missed the big announcement and crowning at prom.
Thomas was just excited to find out about his win.
“By the time he got home, my phone and my wife’s phone were lighting up about them being voted king and queen of prom,” Gary Wilder said. “We were very elated and happy. When my son came home, he was jumping up and down over the whole thing.”
Thomas called friends and family into the night and the next morning to talk about the event. His father said he “was grinning ear to ear.”
The following Monday, the school honored its new Prom King and Prom Queen with a ceremony to present them with their crown, sashes and flowers. However, the parents also wanted to make sure their children’s win was commemorated.
“My husband and I talked, and he said I don’t care how much it takes, we’re going to have to do a do-over,” Dee Hendrix said. “This is just something you don’t get a do-over on.”
Hendrix called her friend Tiffani Bray, a local photographer, and took the couple out for photos downtown with their crowns, sashes and flowers.
Despite missing the announcement, the parents were still overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness and kindness of the LaGrange High School students who campaigned and collaborated to make Thomas and Heather Prom King and Queen.
“My wife cried (when she found out about the win), and it’s pretty special that people go out of their way for, and feel this way about these special kids,” Gary Wilder said. “Years ago, they wouldn’t be as sensitive to this situation. All the way through school, they had phenomenal support, friends and teachers around them, all over LaGrange.”
Wilder and Hendrix said that there were friends of the couple who helped collaborate and push for them to win. They were thankful for their support.
“Obviously the students at the high school were very supportive and obviously got behind this thing, and made sure everything happened,” Gary Wilder said. “… I think it was such a tight little group of students that put the whole thing together.”
Hendrix said despite much of the negativity surrounding youth, the students’ selection of two exceptional education students as Prom King and Queen showed selflessness.
“There’s so much evil and wrong-doings going on in kids, gang-wise and things now, and in my book it was selfless of them to give this honor to somebody – special people,” Dee Hendrix said. “… A special thanks to the class of 2014 seniors.”