Personality, Not Disability Defines Proctor’s New Homecoming Queen

Carly Barnstorf, 2020 Homecoming Queen, is a smiling face throughout Proctor High's Sports and Cheer Squad.

PROCTOR, Minn.- It’s Homecoming season for high schools across the Northland, and at Proctor High School they have crowned a very special Homecoming Queen who isn’t letting her Down Syndrome define her or her high school experience.

The Homecoming Ceremony and Court at Proctor Wednesday was like no other. “It was pretty exciting,” said Senior Cheerleader Carly Barnstorf.

Barnstorf was crowned Homecoming Queen, she found out, right “when they put the tiara on my head.”

“This is such an honor and I never knew that I might get it,” Barnstorf said. “I was in shock, I was also pretty nervous. It was overwhelming ’cause it was new to me.”

Even before becoming royalty, Carly was known throughout the school.

“She definitely earns the title, she is involved. And she cheers on her classmates and she’s full of school spirit,” her mom Missy Andrews said.

Carly doesn’t let her Down Syndrome stop her from participating in track, bowling, swimming, basketball, Special Olympics, and of course, cheerleading, where she is Co-Captain.

But the whole school was cheeringĀ her on when she got the crown — even if her emotions drowned the sound out.

“To be honest I didn’t know, I didn’t hear anyone cheering. I think some sound came, came out, like fogged out,” she said.

But the Homecoming King, Rails Football Guard and Linebacker Alex McPhee, definitely heard the crowd.

“Everyone was really really happy for Carly,” said McPhee, “it wasn’t just me everyone can see that Carly really deserved to be queen.”

That is a testament, he said, to how accepting the student body is. “I feel like we’re kinda smaller everyone knows everyone and not a lot of people get left out.”

It was a big night for him as well, of course: “I was definitely not expecting to win.” And being crowned next to Barnstorf was a nice ray of sunshine during the pandemic.

“Certainly this year’s been super different. I mean we’re not even in school at all but having Carly win that was a really cool thing, a bright spot on this 2020,” McPhee said.

“It’s nice to see it as the norm rather than the unusual, the acceptance is good,” said Andrews, who says Proctor’s teachers and staff are to thank.

“The teachers, administration do, they do a lot of programming for inclusion, acceptance, and unified classes,” Barnstorf’s mother said. “So this just shows this is kinda their fruition of those attempts and that effort that they’ve put in.”

But at the end of the day, Carly won because of who she is.

“Carly is always probably like the nicest person I know. Always happy, she’s smiling always, always having a good time,” said the Homecoming King.

Having her classmates acknowledging her daughter’s good nature is heartwarming, Andrews said. “And that’s just what’s showing there is they see her as a person and they include her and she feels that.”

It’s her personality, not her disability, that makes her a queen.

“I know I have a different disability, I have Down Syndrome. It’s okay to be different, it’s okay to walk in the crowd when you’re different,” said Carly Barnstorf.

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