When it comes to surviving high school, most students fall into two categories, those that are popular and those that are outsiders.
While schools strive to provide an inclusive environment, for many kids these days, the threat of bullying is still all too real.
Getting through high school can be a balancing act.
You either make headway with your fellow classmates and become one of the favorites or many students try to fade away into the background, hoping to not be seen. Unfortunately, some students are just easier targets than others.
For one girl, high school was hard.
She was bullied constantly and despite having some very close friends at school, she wasn’t always spared by her peers. When several mean girls targeted her for a vicious homecoming prank, it was her friends who had the last laugh. You won’t believe this incredible story of surviving high school, rising above adversity and the power of friendship.
For Lilly Skinner, her two best friends were Anahi Alvarez and Naomi Martinez.
The three teens attended Grand Prairie High School in North Texas and had been inseparable since the seventh grade. The girls were very protective of one another, especially when it came to Lilly who usually found herself to be an easy target for bullies.
With prom season approaching, the three friends hoped they would all make it onto the homecoming court together.
And as homecoming drew closer, they thought they would be. Unfortunately, fate had other plans….
So why did the girls believe they were all on the homecoming court.
Well, a few mean girls in the school decided to target poor Lilly and weaved a tale that she was on the homecoming court along with her two friends. For Lilly, it was a dream come true and for once she thought people at her school might actually like her.
Sadly, when the ballot for homecoming court was released, only Anahi and Naomi were on it. Where was Lilly.
Why had she been left out. The two friends decided to get to the bottom of it and were sad to discover it had been all an elaborate prank to hurt Lilly.
While many would think Lilly would have lashed out at the girls, it was the exact opposite.
Despite being disappointed, she believed in always looking for the good in people. Even though she had been hurt, she refused to stoop to their level.
Both Naomi and Anahi were disappointed in the turn of events as well. They had secretly planned to drop out of the contest if all three of them had been nominated so Lilly would win.
Now, that plan was ruined. However, the girls had a second plan up their sleeve that would deliver some sweet justice.
“We promised each other,” Naomi revealed along with Anahi.
“We were like, ‘No matter what, no backing down. If one of us wins, we’re giving Lillian the crown.” Talk about being humble.
When the night finally arrived for the crowning of homecoming king and queen, all of the students gathered around the football field for the court to do their grand appearance.
And thankfully, Anahi and Naomi’s plan worked. Anahi was crowned homecoming queen!
Meanwhile, an unsuspecting Lilly was out on the field snapping photographs of the event for the school newspaper.
She was thrilled that her friend won, but what Lilly didn’t know was she was about to get the biggest surprise of her life.
Suddenly, the prom announcer took to the microphone. “Anahi is honoring a very hard-working senior with her crown.
We would like to announce Lillian Skinner; please step up and receive this honor.” Lilly couldn’t believe it. Did they really just say her name?
At first, Lilly didn’t want to take her best friend’s crown. “When she won the queen, I took a picture and she told me to come over,” Lilly told NBC. “And I said, ‘It’s OK.
It’s OK. It’s your crown, you know. My name is not on the list.” However, Anahi wasn’t backing down. Lilly couldn’t help but cry and embrace her friend, so thankful for the kind gesture.
“Seeing the look on her face and the way she reacted toward it, it was priceless,” Naomi told NBC.
“I knew it was the right decision.” And for Lilly, it was a moment to be in the spotlight. Something she had never experienced before.
“I want to say, and I always say, ‘Lilly won.
I just ran in her place, in her position. When they ask me, ‘Were you, homecoming queen?’ I say, ‘No, Lilly is homecoming queen,” Naomi revealed. For Lilly, having such amazing friends was the real blessing.
“I wanted the chance to be homecoming queen, but never expected to get it like this. I couldn’t ask for two greater friends.
They can be hard to come by. I got lucky. It’s like a dream or something!”.
The school’s principal, Lorimer Arendse, had only been informed of the girl’s plan the night before and he was thrilled to let Lilly get the crown.
“In all my time in school, this is probably the greatest moment I’ve ever experienced as a principal.”.
It didn’t take long before the girl’s story hit the news and suddenly they found themselves thrust into the spotlight as their story went viral.
They couldn’t believe that so many people took notice. In fact, it was almost overwhelming for the three teens.
Soon, the girls were finding themselves interviewed by a variety of different news outlets. Naomi and Ahani continued to praise Lilly and how much they adored her.
“She’s that person that is always happy,” Naomi Martinez told CBS 11 News. “Happy to see me. Happy to see everyone – just happy to be here.”.
After homecoming, Ahani and Naomi wanted to continue their message of kindness.
They decided to hold an anti-bullying rally at their high school with the purpose of encouraging students to look out for each other and not be bystanders. All of the students even signed a banner making a pledge to do better!
One celebrity that took notice of the girls’ kindness was Ellen DeGeneres.
Moved by their message of being kind to one another, she just knew she had to have them on her show. Therefore, she invited the girls to a taping.
Ellen was taken aback by the girls and their message and loved how selfless they were in terms of helping their best friend.
However, she did have one question for Naomi that needed to be answered.
Ellen asked Naomi point blank if she ever had any hesitation giving up her crown since homecoming in Texas was such a big deal.
Naomi revealed it wasn’t even a question to her that Lilly would be the queen that night. Despite Texas holding homecoming in high regard, she had always wanted her friend to have the honor.
As a reward for the girls’ kindness, Ellen revealed that she would be placing a photo of them on her Wall of Fame, where she featured all of her favorite guests.
Talk about an incredible honor. The girls were absolutely stunned.
As an added surprise, Ellen presented all three young ladies with sashes and crowns, declaring it the first ever “Ellen Homecoming.” Let’s just say those will be souvenirs they cherish forever.
However, that wasn’t all that Ellen had up her sleeve.
She really wanted to reward the ladies for their humble attitudes and gracious hearts. Therefore, she presented them all with something that would change their lives forever.
Each girl was presented with a check for $10,000 to put toward their college education.
With tears in their eyes, Naomi, Ahani, and Lilly thanked Ellen profusely. They couldn’t believe such a simple gesture would result in such a great reward.
So what’s next for these lovely ladies.
Well, Lilly hopes to be an actress one day, but for now, graduation and college are the top priority. However, the girls hope that their story will make a positive impact on people around the world.
According to Anahi, you can’t wait for change. You need to be the change.
She hopes to continue to walk the walk and talk the talk into the future. “I would like to try and make a change in our society and help people feel good.” We believe she’s already succeeded.