FARGO - Alec Penney has a lot of friends at South High School and if you ask, they'll tell you they think he's a prince of a guy.
So much so, they decided he should also be king.
Penney was crowned this year's homecoming King Bruin the 37th on Monday, Sept. 11, while Eve Hanson was crowned Queen Bruin the 48th in ceremonies in the school theater.
"I was excited," Penney said. "My friends totally voted for me. I was very happy with them."
Penney is the son of Tim and Marilyn Penney, and Hanson is the daughter of David and Kathryn Hanson.
Penney, a special needs student, is a friend of many of the athletes at South. In April, he picked up two hits and scored a run as a designated hitter for the baseball team, when South played the Perham Yellowjackets at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Right now, he's hanging out with the football team.
He makes everyone smile, said senior wide receiver and cornerback Jamon Howard.
"Everybody knows Alec, and everybody likes Alec," Howard said.
Charles Bennington said his older brother used to play football with Penney's older brother.
"Our bond grew through sports," said Bennington, a senior offensive lineman. "He's just a fun guy to be around. He stuck with us and likes to have fun."
Tanner Beaton, a senior wide receiver and safety, has known Penney since they were in first grade.
"I think everybody knows who he is," Beaton said. "Everyone seems to like him."
Marilyn Penney said when her son was diagnosed with Down syndrome, she was saddened to think of all the opportunities that might be closed off to him as a special needs student. She also worried about how he might get along in a big school like South. She said she's been overwhelmed by the support for her son.
"It's about these wonderful kids at South and their wonderful parents, and how they've included him in everything," Marilyn Penney said. "He's made so many friends. I could never have dreamed this could happen."
The 2017 homecoming court includes: Anna Brakke, Bryn Brotherson, Jenna Christian, Daysha Fliginger, Erin Groom, Claire Johnson, Greysen Myers, Lauren Ostlie, Abbie Sherva, Zayd Amundson, Tanner Beaton, Charles Bennington, Dawson Breyer, Tyrese Childs, Jamon Howard, Davis Lawley, Spencer Prestegaard and Bill Rischer.
The homecoming football game against Fargo North High School starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, on the South High stadium field. Half-time will include introductions of this year's Hall of Fame class and the homecoming court and their parents.
The homecoming dance will be 8 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, in the school commons.
The homecoming theme is "Once A Bruin, Always A Bruin." This is the school's 50th anniversary year; it opened in 1967.