A small town in Michigan is rallying behind a teenage girl who had thoughts of killing herself after students at her high school elected her to the homecoming court as a joke.
"I had actually thought about suicide," Whitney Kropp, a 16-year-old at Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Mich., told Detroit's WXYZ-TV after she found out about the homecoming hoax. "I thought I wasn't worthy."
But residents of Kropp's farming community quickly rallied around her. A Facebook page was launched to support the bullied teen, generating nearly 40,000 "likes." And local businesses—including a hair salon and a dress shop—pledged to donate their services to help her get ready for the festivities that culminate with a school dance on Sept. 29.
Kropp's mom encouraged Whitney to attend the dance to spite her bullies. "It takes a lot of guts," Bernice Kropp told NBC News. "And she's gonna do it."
"I'm excited to go because I can prove everyone wrong and say, you know, I'm not this joke that you guys thought of," Whitney Kropp told NBC. "You guys doing this has made me stronger, and I've got more self-esteem than what I had."
"It's like 'Carrie' with a happy ending," The Detroit News said.
School officials say they are investigating the prank.