DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — From riding on a float in their high school's homecoming parade to being crowned with a breathtaking tiara and sash in front of family, friends, and fans, homecoming night is filled with memories that truly last a lifetime.

Most girls dream of being voted queen from the first day of their freshman year until they become seniors. It is a symbol of support from their peers.

Gracie Holmes was one of those girls, and now, her dream is becoming a reality.

Gracie is part of the special education program at Northview High School, and said on the first day of her freshman year she was nervous and did not know what to expect from such a large, new environment. All Gracie knew was that she wanted the chance to shine as bright as her smile.

"She truly brings a light and a love to people that is so pure. Gracie embodies the characteristics of a queen and I knew that, and I told her during her first year here she could run for homecoming queen when she was a senior. I promised her that," Barbie Nelson, Gracie's teacher, said.

Though the school's queen will not be announced until the homecoming game on Sept. 21, Gracie feels as though she has already won the biggest prize of them all — the love and support of her friends at Northview High School.

Every hallway at Northview is decorated with posters encouraging students to vote for Gracie, some covered in glitter made by the class's student aids, and others decorated in watercolors made by her classmates.

All of the posters give reasons why students should cast a vote for Gracie to be crowned homecoming queen, and Nelson said each justification is spot-on.

"(Gracie) has nothing but love to share. She brings a positive attitude with her to school every day, makes good grades, and treats people kindly. People see that in her, and many hope to be more like her because she never fails to put her best foot forward," said Nelson.

On Sept. 7, the posters were put to the test. On the ballot was Gracie's name along with about 60 others, and Northview students cast their votes. The votes were tallied, and at 11 a.m., the results rang throughout the school over the intercom.

Gracie's entire class waited in anticipation. Name after name on the court was called, and each second seemed a lifetime. Her peers shared in her anxiousness with closed eyes and crossed fingers, and though the room was silent you could almost hear each heart pounding a little faster and a little louder with each passing moment.

The silence in the room was broken with an eruption of cheers when Gracie's name was called.

Gracie's best friend Jaylen James met her with a congratulatory hug as did the rest of her loving classmates. The entire school could hear Nelson's room cheering for Gracie, and the entire school cheered with them. It was a true moment of unity at Northview High School, and Gracie said it was a moment she will never forget.

"I will always have this memory of being selected by my peers. My dream has come true. Thank you homecoming court and thank you N.H.S. I love you to the moon and back," Gracie said.

Nelson said although being nominated to the homecoming court is only the first step toward becoming queen, Gracie already feels like a winner.

Gracie will trade in her cheerleading uniform with a gown on the night of the homecoming parade. She will beam on the outside and inside.

Gracie said she is happy, and is most excited to walk onto the football field arm-in-arm with her father at the game.

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Information from: The Dothan Eagle, http://www.dothaneagle.com