Two friends at a North Texas high school vowed to make up for their classmates' cruel prank by awarding the Grand Prairie High School homecoming crown to one of their best friends.
Lillian Skinner, 17, is described by friends as "just an amazing girl" and "one of the nicest people I've ever met."
"She's so sweet," said 17-year-old Anahi Alvarez, a senior at the North Texas school. "We need people in this world like Lilly."
"My mom tells me, and I remember to tell my friends, 'Look inside [to see what] counts. Not the outside. Look inside your heart,'" Skinner told NBC 5 about her life motto. "If you judge people's skin, that's bad. But look inside their heart, to who they are."
But Skinner's sweet and innocent nature also made her the target of a recent prank in which some unnamed girls told her she had been nominated for the homecoming court alongside her longtime best friends, Alvarez and Naomi Martinez, also a GPHS senior.
After learning of the prank, Alvarez and Martinez, who have been friends with Skinner since 7th grade choir, hatched a plan to pass their crown to Skinner should either of them be named homecoming queen.
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"We promised each other and we were like, 'No matter what, no backing down. If one of us wins, we're giving Lillian the crown,'" Martinez said.
On Friday night, in front of thousands of friends, family members and fans at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl, that is exactly what happened.
Principal Lorimer Arendse, now in his fourth week at the helm of Grand Prairie High School, was let in on the plan shortly before halftime and the planned announcement of the homecoming winners.
"In all my time in school, this is probably the greatest moment I've ever experienced as a principal," said Arendse, who has five years of prior experience in school administration.
It was Arendse's job to escort Skinner onto the field, under the guise of helping to take pictures of the homecoming court's procession. So Skinner had front row seats for when her friend, Anahi Alvarez, was named 2014 homecoming queen.
"When she won the queen, I took a picture and she told me to come over. And I said, 'It's OK. It's OK. It's your crown, you know? My name is not on the list,'" Skinner said.
Slowly it dawned on Skinner what was really happening, according to the others in attendance.
"That's when it was just, the moment itself took over," Arendse said, still smiling four days after the fact.
"Seeing the look on her face and the way she reacted toward it, it was priceless," said Martinez. "I knew it was the right decision."
Skinner did not know what to think as Alvarez placed the crown on her head.
"I was like, 'Wow, really? Like, wow! Like, is this a dream or something?'" Skinner said Tuesday, pinching her arm as she did.
As for the girl who got the most votes Friday, she said she would gladly do it all again.
"Well, for me, I want to say, and I always say, 'Lilly won. I just ran in her place, in her position,'" Alvarez said. "When they ask me, 'Were you homecoming queen?' I say, 'No, Lilly is homecoming queen.'"