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Eyes on the homecoming prize

Sat., Sept. 28, 2013

Tiffany Allen, who has Down Syndrome, sits beside the formal dress she will wear as she vies for homecoming princess at East Valley High School. (Jesse Tinsley)
Tiffany Allen, who has Down Syndrome, sits beside the formal dress she will wear as she vies for homecoming princess at East Valley High School. (Jesse Tinsley)

Candidate Tiffany Allen receives school’s support

At East Valley High School, three girls and three boys from each class vie for a spot on the homecoming court. One boy and one girl from each class will be chosen during halftime of the school’s homecoming game Friday – the seniors will be the king and queen; the underclassmen princes and princesses.

This year, one of those candidates, Tiffany Allen, 17, is receiving a lot of support from students at the school and creating a lot of buzz.

Allen, a junior, has Down syndrome.

“I think she’s got it,” said Brittany Lipp, a senior, said of Allen’s chances to win. Lipp said she volunteers in the Yes I Can program for students with special needs at the school and knows Allen through that.

“She’s really funny,” Lipp said. “She’ll just walk up and give me a big old hug.”

Elisha Allred, another senior, said she walks Allen to art class every day.

“She’s always really nice,” Allred said.

Allred said for the past few years, the nominees have always been from the same group of students. This year, students amended the constitution to limit students to running for royalty only once freshman through junior years.

Allen has been raised by her grandparents, Colleen and Dave Bossio, for the past 12 1/2 years. Colleen Bossio said Allen has been involved in the Special Olympics for swimming and bowling and is in Upward Basketball. She loves Gonzaga basketball – members of the men’s team often come to her basketball practice to help out. Robert Sacre, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, is her favorite player.

She spent the summer at Camp Lutherhaven, trying out a rock-climbing wall and zip lines for the first time.

“We’re sports people,” Bossio said.

Once Allen made it into the top three girls in her class, Bossio and Allen went shopping for a dress. Allen is going to get highlights in her hair and a friend will help her with makeup on the big night.

“For her to wear a dress,” her grandmother said, “it’s a big deal.”

The two went to the mall to shop and came home with an off-the-shoulder purple gown with a scarf skirt and rhinestone appliqué. She’ll pair that with a white and silver wrap.

Allen said she’s a little nervous about the big night. In the coming days she’ll be busy learning a dance the nominees do, attending the annual Mr. Knight event on Wednesday, the school homecoming assembly on Thursday and the game Friday. The school’s homecoming dance will be Oct. 5.

“She just gets more and more excited,” Bossio said. “To include her with the regular kids is good for the school and the special needs (program). I’m really proud of the school.”

Bossio, Lipp and Allred agree that everyone at school knows who Allen is.

“We go to the mall or anywhere, it’s like, ‘Hi, Tiff,’ ‘Hi, Tiff,’ ‘Hi, Tiff,’ ” Bossio said.

“She’s liked by everybody,” Bossio said.

Lipp said she’s been talking to her friends at school to generate votes for Allen. Bossio said she and Allen made posters to hang in the hallways and printed up fliers to get the word out.

Of all the events coming up, Allen is most looking forward to the game.

Bossio said she’s going to come prepared.

“I have to have Kleenex,” Bossio said. “Grandma cries at everything.”

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