Homecoming queen means more than crown

Senior Xiomara Pena-Palacios waited anxiously to hear the announcement of the 2020 Fall homecoming court. To Palacios, being on the court didn’t just mean having an excuse to wear a fancy dress, it gave her the ability to represent other minorities through homecoming court. 

“The process of actually getting on homecoming court felt kind of long because you went through so many different nominations,” Palacios said. “Afterwards, it was nice to just get on the court. Not a lot of teachers could tell me that they’ve seen a Homecoming Queen of a different race and so that felt really cool.” 

Palacios is an active student, participating in Colorguard, Youth for Christ, EAST, choir, and other clubs throughout her high school years. Friends, family, and peers supported Palacios every step of the way from initial maid nominations to voting for Homecoming Queen. 

“Honestly I was really proud because I knew the people who were in these different organizations with me really cared and were constantly telling me that they wanted me to win, and for them to have made that happen was unbelievable,” Palacios said. “We don’t really do this kind of stuff as Latinos but it was utterly amazing and it was nice to be a part of it going in with no expectations and to have won.”

This year’s fall homecoming was unlike years past. The student body gathered in their advisory classes to view a live stream of the homecoming assembly. Palacios’ escort during the assembly was her cousin Jennifer Rodriguez. Both friends and family were thrilled on homecoming night when Palacios was named Homecoming Queen. Palacios was being escorted that night by her older sister Sandra Pena-Palacios. Palacios’ mother was unable to attend due to being quarantined but she, as well as other family members, supported Palacios by watching the events live stream.

“It was kind of weird because my mom is one of my biggest supporters and my sister as well so it was hard not having them with me,” Palacios said, “My little sister was at home with my mom and she told me that they kept screaming ‘She won, she won, she won!’”

With disbelief of having won Homecoming Queen, Palacios valued everyone’s support and was glad to have won for her friends and family. In regards to cultural representation, Palacios feels that minorities are at a disadvantage when it comes to being a part of special events like homecoming. 

“I think homecoming is really more centered towards the white population of the school especially with it being so expensive to be a maid,” Palacios said. “A lot of different minorities would probably have trouble with the amount it costs but if you want to see more minorities up there then we need to just allow ourselves to go for it. I also think we have a lot of clubs and stuff that encourage cultural representation but when it comes to actual things like this they really don’t.”

Altogether, Palacios’s homecoming experience was one to remember. Palacios hopes more minorities will take the opportunity to be a part of more school events in the future. She believes that cultural representation throughout the school is very crucial and wants to see more minorities in action. 

“Honestly it was really fun and I’d encourage anyone who wants to try and get on homecoming court to go for it,” Palacios said.