Special Needs Student Crowned Homecoming King

Ivan Mendoza, 18, will be crowned homecoming king at Crawford High School Friday

By Danya Bacchus and Monica Garske
|  Saturday, Oct 13, 2012  |  Updated 9:18 AM PDT
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A special needs student at a local high school won the title of homecoming king by a landslide with support from his classmates. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

A special needs student at a local high school won the title of homecoming king by a landslide with support from his classmates. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

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A local student with Downs Syndrome was crowned Homecoming King Friday evening, after his classmates elected him by a landslide.

This year, the title of homecoming king at Crawford High School was given to 18-year-old Ivan Mendoza, a senior who has Downs Syndrome.

In the contest for the crown, Mendoza didn’t have any competition. That’s because his fellow seniors wanted him to win, no matter what.

Mendoza, who is active in the schools Associated Student Body, was officially crowned at Crawford’s homecoming game Friday night. His coronation will continue through the school’s homecoming dance Saturday.

Thelma Isiorda is one of the nominees for Homecoming Queen. She said her reasons for wanting to be crowned queen changed when Mendoza was nominated.

"When I heard he was going to be King I wanted to win because it would be a pleasure to stand next to him," she said.

His teacher, Alan Reitman, told NBC 7 none of the other senior class students applied for the title of homecoming king once they heard Mendoza was running.

"Nobody would turn in an application against him. They wanted him to win,” said Reitman. “He's just loved by everybody. He's got a great personality.”

As he geared up for his big weekend ahead, Mendoza told NBC 7 he’s been practicing his dance moves and his royal wave.

His older sister, Alma Gastelum, told NBC 7 she’s happy Mendoza will get to experience being homecoming king.

"I'm just proud of my brother. I've always been proud of him,” she said.

His family is also overwhelmed by the support coming from Mendoza’s peers at Crawford High School. Gastelum said she’s excited his peers are able to see him as a fellow student, not someone with a disability.

“It's a good feeling that everybody supports him. Especially at school because you hear about all the bullying and negative stuff at school, so it's nice to hear something positive,” said Gastelum.

Mendoza is happy too – and prepared for all of the pictures he’ll be taking at homecoming. He said he’s mainly excited about two things.

“The crown…and I’m going to paint my face,” he told NBC 7.

Crawford's new king got to participate in a pep rally and parade Friday, as will also get to show off his dance moves at the homecoming dance Saturday.

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