Michigan school replaces homecoming queen title

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CHELSEA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan high school has decided to stop crowning homecoming queens amid bullying issues.

Chelsea High School decided to stop the “outdated” tradition because of its competitive and stereotypical nature, according to a Student Council letter. The homecoming queen process often left girls feeling pitted against each other, bullied or with hurt feelings.

“We don’t want one of the biggest awards at our school to be associated with ‘pretty’ or ‘popular’ stereotypes or to be limited to a specific category of students,” Student Council President Drew Vanderspool wrote in the letter.

Responses to the change have mostly been positive, though some students who were hoping to be named homecoming queen are disappointed, said Maddie Dunlap, a sophomore and the Student Council public relations chairperson.

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“It was an issue that we’ve had for a long time, and we never got around to solving it,” Dunlap said. “We thought it was time for a change.”

The change follows the high school’s 2016-17 #WhyYouMatter campaign, which highlighted contributions by students and staff. Student Council members believed the homecoming queen tradition clashed with the project’s message, said Adam Schilt, an English teacher and Student Council adviser.

The school will instead hand out a new excellence award, which will be open to students regardless of gender.

“(The excellence award) helps to shift what we value,” Schilt said.

The new award will consider students’ academic, social and emotional attributes, said Valerie Johnson, an English teacher and a Student Council adviser.

The excellence award will be revealed at the school’s homecoming football game Sept. 21.

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