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Oak Harbor High School homecoming takes on added drama

Students and staff from North Whidbey Middle School participate in the Oak Harbor homecoming parade Wednesday. - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Students and staff from North Whidbey Middle School participate in the Oak Harbor homecoming parade Wednesday.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

It’s emotional enough being crowned homecoming royalty once.

To relive the suspense for a second time?

“There was so much drama,” said Bianca Blake.

Blake was voted senior class princess at Oak Harbor High School.

Twice.

Suspicion, then confirmation, of ballot-stuffing last week led to a revote this week under closer supervision.

“I won again,” Blake said with a smile.

As it turned out, most of the original royalty kept their crowns and were immersed in a busy week of homecoming festivities, including a ride in the backseats of vintage cars during a parade through downtown Wednesday.

But the issue has placed more scrutiny on the high school’s balloting system.

Students originally were allowed to vote by placing their paper ballots in a box in the lunchroom. Each was able to vote once for his or her own class’ prince and princess, plus the overall king and queen.

But when the original homecoming court was announced, one of the candidates cried foul, and a closer examination confirmed the suspicion of tampering.

“We didn’t have a strong enough adult hand watching votes,” Oak Harbor High School Principal Dwight Lundstrom said.

Ordinarily, students’ names are checked off a master list, but he said that process didn’t take place this time, allowing for voting redundancies.

Lundstrom admitted that the discovery was unfortunate for those who didn’t get voted in the second time, but said a revote ended up involving much broader participation and thus better represented the student body.

The revote was held early in the week in the students’ advisory periods. Participation was voluntary but increased the second time around under adult supervision, Lundstrom said.

The revised royalty court was unveiled Wednesday with seniors Troy Sturdevant and Yzabella Sampson being crowned king and queen and taking center stage at the parade that traveled down Pioneer Way.

They rode in the back of a teal Ford Thunderbird provided by the Whidbey Cruzers vintage car club.

“It was really, really fun, Sampson said. “My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.”

“Same here,” Sturdevant said.

The rest of the 10 royalty members included princes and princesses Ben Danielson and Blake (Class of 2014), Mark Raryray and Dejsha Lollar (2015), Chase Powell and Mara Powers (2016) and JJ Mitchell and Sharnel Leask (2017).

The queen and princesses came decked out at the parade in tiaras provided by Gerald’s Jewelry and the princes came in tuxedos donated by the Men’s Wearhouse in Burlington. Sturdevant wore his purple football jersey.

The parade involved students and staff that represented clubs, programs and teams from the high school, middle schools and elementary schools. The high school’s decorated NJROTC led the parade as family members, friends and other onlookers waved from sidewalks.

Among the more colorful entries was the flag team made up of Broad View Elementary fourth and fifth graders.

High school football team members, dressed in purple jerseys, made a large presence on Pioneer’s narrow street.

The royalty was at the back of the line.

“It was nice. I smiled the whole time,” Blake said. “It was cool.”

“Ever since I was a freshman, I wanted to be named princess.”

 

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