CHS seniors elect Life Skills students as their prom king and queen
Students attending Corvallis High School’s prom last week voted two seniors in the school’s Life Skills program as their prom king and queen.
The school’s new royalty, Jess Anderson and Patricia Santillan, both said they were shocked by the win.
Hanna Zarnegin, a senior in the leadership class that planned the prom, said there was no deliberate or coordinated effort to vote for the pair, who met in elementary school in the Life Skills program. The program is for students who have physical or cognitive conditions and receive special instruction.
“I think every single person in that room was proud of them, and excited that they won. I don’t think they wanted anyone else to win,” she said. She said it was an emotional moment when the pair was announced as the winners at the May 18 prom, and she noticed that the announcement prompted tears in at least one of her friends.
Zarnegin described Anderson and Santillan as a “power couple,” and added that it was “awesome” that they won.
Anderson, 19, has been team manager for both the basketball and football teams for the past two years and is on the track team. He was nominated to be on the ballot for prom king, but Santillan, 18, was not. She was elected prom queen based on write-in votes.
“It feels awesome being the king,” Anderson said.
He thinks that people voted for them because they’re nice people, with good attitudes and ready smiles.
“I act like any other normal kid,” he said.
Anderson, who has Trisomy 10, a chromosomal disorder, said he enjoys NASCAR and video games. He is graduating this year, and next year will be enrolled in the WINGS program, which assists Life Skills students in developing skills to help them live and work independently. After that he wants to go to Linn-Benton Community College.
“I’ve been waiting for graduation,” he said.
Santillan, who has Down syndrome, also will be graduating this year. She also will participate in the WINGS program next year.
“I’m kind of happy, but sad” about graduating, she said. “I’ll miss my friends.”
She said she thinks her classmates voted for her because they know her well, and because she is happy and has many friends.
Anderson said that he and Santillan are close friends who have a lot in common, such as a fondness for mystery books. He enjoys the Hardy Boys; she likes Nancy Drew.
In fact, Karen Peterson, Corvallis High School’s Life Skills teacher, recalled when the two were freshmen: Anderson would hold Santillan’s hand when she got nervous.
Peterson said the impressive part about Santillan and Anderson being elected was that it was entirely the idea of their fellow seniors.
“It shows that they are an exceptional class of students,” she said.