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Students crowned honorary king, queen (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Oct. 12, 2012 at 5:12 a.m.
Updated Oct. 13, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.

Christopher Salge, 19, left, and Brandy Cortinas, 19, stand on the field at Memorial Stadium as honorary homecoming king and queen Friday night before the rivalry game against Victoria East High School.

It was the moment she had been dreaming of all her life.

Brandy Cortinas brushed back her long, black bangs to make space for a silver, shimmering tiara.

Next to Cortinas stood the newly christened king, Chris Salge.

The 19-year-old seniors gave each other a look only old friends can share as Victoria East High School students cheered the two on at the homecoming pep rally on Friday.

Cortinas and Salge both have Down syndrome.

For the first time in the high school's history, an honorary homecoming king and queen coronation was created for Salge and Cortinas.

"We decided it would be a great way to honor Chris because he's a big part of the ROTC program here," said student council advisor Jesse Rayls. "Brandy is also very active in school dances."

Rayls said their inclusion was also meant to inspire other kids who lack academic motivation.

The honorary homecoming king was nominated by his longtime teacher Kathy Daughtrey.

"She taught him way back in pre-K and again this year, his senior year," said Salge's older sister, Jennifer Barnett.

After Salge was nominated, Cortinas was asked to be his queen.

Puddles of tears encircled Sally Codril's eyes as she watched cameras snap away.

"She's known Chris since they were 2 years old," said Cortinas' mother.

Steps away, Sue Salge was doing her best to keep from crying.

"We're very proud of him," said Chris Salge's mother. "This has been a huge surprise."

Thundering with applause from a standing ovation, the gymnasium was packed to the gills.

"This was really important because if the school hadn't done this, it wouldn't have happened," said freshman Kyle Steen. "No one picks on them or anything; they're just not noticed as much."

Nelda Matchett, Salge's grandmother, said she was extremely proud to see her youngest grandson take the crown.

"It's an honor," Matchett said. "He's just excelled in everything."

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