Unanimous: Omaha North High Elects Special-Needs Prom Queen

Omaha North High elects special-needs student as its prom queen — and the vote was unanimous                                                                            

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Emily Lanouette rode solo to the Omaha North High School prom.

After dinner at Texas Roadhouse — the restaurant where she also celebrated her 19th birthday — her parents drove her to the dance.

Lanouette, a prom court nominee and a senior with Down syndrome, wore a purple dress underneath a purple jacket. Her fingernails matched. The dress was long and flowy with ruffles, and it swirled outward when she danced, which is her favorite thing to do, she said, especially when it’s Katy Perry singing.

Midway through the evening on April 18, Lanouette and the other prom court nominees were announced.

And the queen?

Emily Lanouette.

The student body erupted with applause.

“I cried,” said her teacher, Lindsey Holley. “When she was elected, I had butterflies in my stomach.”

Lanouette is the first special-needs student nominated and elected as prom queen in the history of North High.

The vote was unanimous.

“I was in shock a little bit,” said Lanouette, who was wearing her silver crown and blue sash at school the following week. “I was happy.”

Lanouette was first nominated to prom court by other special-needs students. Holley said that those students wanted a representative from their class, but some didn’t want recognition and others simply didn’t want to go to the dance. But Lanouette didn’t mind attention, and she doesn’t mind trying new things, Holley said.

By trying new things, Lanouette has fallen in love with pottery, with cheerleading for the state champion North football team, and with singing and dancing in the Miss Amazing Pageant, a show for women and girls with disabilities to compete and build self-confidence.

So, when students decided that Emily’s loving, kind demeanor would make her a good candidate, the campaign began, Holley said.

Emily Lanouette, Prom Queen

Emily Lanouette, Prom Queen

Lindsey Holley, a teacher at North High talks about Senior Emily Lanouette and how the student body elected her as Prom Queen. 

Emily and her mom, Lori Lanouette, speckled posters of Emily in her cheerleading uniform across the halls of North High, urging her peers to vote for her.

On prom night, Lori straightened her daughter’s hair and bangs for the evening, making a perfect surface for a crown.

When Emily’s name was announced, her mom, dad and teacher, standing in the back, cheered along with the students.


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Ritch Cassidy

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