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Cougars make powerful statement at homecoming: Interview with the Queen

By BECKY CRISSMAN
becky.crissman@cordeledispatch.com

CORDELE — It was a rainy night in Georgia, but it did not dampen the spirit that filled the Cougar Den Friday night, as the Cougars celebrated their homecoming in an unprecedented way. The most anticipated moment of the night was the crowning of the 2015 Homecoming Queen. This year the Cougars made a powerful and touching statement by electing the school’s first ever special needs homecoming queen.
It was truly a story straight out of a fairy tale for senior Raven Dyer, who has Downs Syndrome. According to her teacher, Jennifer Andrews, it all began when Dyer commented to a fellow student that she would like to be queen. A group of senior girls banded together and started a campaign to make Dyer’s dream come true.
“This group of girls turned to facebook and spread the word they wanted Raven be named queen,” said Andrews. “The students set this up. I am so proud the students worked so hard to not only make sure she was crowned, but to make the entire week special for her. They cheered her on every step of the way. It really showed what a loving student body we have.”
Andrews said that during the campaign students would have their picture taken with Raven and post them to social media encouraging students to cast their vote for Raven.
Raven’s mom, Gloria Harris, said students recognized her in town and wanted to take their picture with her.
“Three girls approached us in a store in town and wanted their picture with Raven,” said Harris. “The outpouring of support was just overwhelming. It was so exciting and I am truly grateful to everyone that thought enough of my daughter to do this for her. So many people went above and beyond to make homecoming memorable for Raven.”
Harris said Raven is the type of child that every time she sees you she will give you a big smile and a hug. She is very outgoing and everybody knows and loves her. It has been that way ever since she started school. Harris says the entire family, especially Raven’s two older sisters, are proud to have the queen in the family.
Andrews added that this year’s Homecoming King, Dee Dee Troup, deserved a special mention as well.
“He is a true king in my book,” she said. “He was so amazing. The king and queen walked in together and they shared a special dance. When Raven’s crown fell off, Dee Dee picked it up and put it back on her head. He has just been awesome. The way he handled the little things; making sure Raven was where she needed to be. Those little things didn’t seem like much to him, but it truly was. They took pictures together too.”
Raven’s date for the night was Kentavion Walker, who gave her a pretty flower to wear with her dress. According to Andrews and Harris, Raven kept him pretty busy on the dance floor.
“Raven loves to dance,” said Harris. “She danced almost non stop,” added Andrews.
Raven said her favorite song to dance to is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and that she was definitely HAPPY!
“Thank you,” Raven wanted to say to those who voted for her. “I am happy to be your queen and proud.”
When asked how she felt when she was announced as queen one word summed it all up, “EXCITED!!!!” She was escorted on the field by her brother-in-law Derrick Hillmon.
Raven said she was also happy Cougars had a good night on the field too.
“I am happy they won,” she said.
Raven said she enjoyed homecoming week, dressing up and having a good time with her friends. Her favorite day was Friday’s Spirit Day because she likes to wear blue and gold.
Both Andrews and Harris said that Raven certainly had the queen part down, waving to the crowd and blowing kisses. Outside her duties as queen, Raven enjoys cooking, especially pizza.

Raven and Homecoming King Dee Dee Troup enter dance together Saturday night.

Raven and Homecoming King Dee Dee Troup enter dance together Saturday night.

The King and Queen enjoy a dance together

The King and Queen enjoy a dance together