prom king putting arm over prom queen's shoulder at ceremony atop staircase
Facebook | Madison Doner WSET

Teens With Down Syndrome Named As High School's Prom King And Queen

In recent years, we've seen a cultural shift away from historical patterns that consistently saw those with mental disabilities like Down syndrome ignored, excluded and underestimated.

While it would be naive to suggest that such behavior never happens anymore, it's now much more likely to attract backlash from a groundswell of supporters for whoever is affected.

Instead, we're seeing more examples of parents, collegiate organizations, and even major fashion outlets celebrating the differences of those with Down syndrome and recognizing what they've accomplished.

And while it's important to see them represented on the world's larger stages, it's even more affirming when we see their peers make similar efforts all on their own.

That's why prom night was even more joyous than usual for one Virginia high school.

Throughout their time at Jefferson Forest High School in Virginia, Anna Anderson and Zane Wales have made quite the positive impression on their fellow students.

teen with down syndrome happily looks on shortly before being named school's prom queen
Facebook | Madison Doner WSET

As a teacher named Heather Hevener told WSET, their peers developed this appreciation for the pair over time and wanted to make sure they knew how they felt.

In her words, "They see these kids every day. They walk the same halls with these same kids, and they just feel like they're part of them, so they wanted to make sure that they also really felt part of them."

So as far back as February, some students got the idea to nominate Wales for prom king this year.

students at high school prom announcing results of prom king and queen election
Facebook | MadisonWSET

According to People, this then led to a passionate campaign that brought about his inclusion in the list of nominations.

And sure enough, in a ceremony uploaded to Facebook on April 29, the school's prom committee announced that Wales had indeed won the title.

But while Anderson was clearly happy for him, Wales seemed agitated, which was likely out of concern that she wouldn't be named his queen.

teens celebrating after being named prom king and queen
Facebook | MadisonWSET

After all, as soon as they heard the happy news that she had won as well, he immediately perked up and pulled her into a sidelong embrace.

Soon enough, they were called upstairs to accept their sashes and crowns and Wales held Anderson close to him again.

And while their fellow students had clearly made their night special, some local businesses did their own parts to make it unforgettable.

prom king putting arm over prom queen's shoulder at ceremony atop staircase
Facebook | Madison Doner WSET

As WSET reported, Emerald Limousine came through with a donated limo for the pair and Celebration Bridal donated tuxedos.

For their parts, the duo said they never expected to win and while Anderson's favorite part of the night was the dancing, Wales thought that nothing beat accepting his crown.

h/t: WSET