Classmates rally behind an unlikely prom king at Center Grove High School

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CENTER GROVE – Prom night is always a special experience, but for one student his prom night is truly one he’ll never forget. It started as a special friendship and grew into an entire school movement.

It’ll be one week Saturday that J.J. Kubancsek got the crown at Center Grove High School. In his rise to royalty, there’s a lesson for all of us.

In a classroom at Center Grove, it’s easy to see how J.J. and Claire Cross formed a special bond over the past year.

“I just started to get super close with J.J., and we really clicked,” said Cross.

She’s a peer tutor, and J.J. is a 19-year-old with Down Syndrome. He doesn’t talk much, but he’ll carry on with her, and their relationship goes beyond the classroom.

“I decided about November that I wanted to take him to prom,” said Cross.

So, Claire and J.J. went as dates to the senior prom. It didn’t stop there.

“I was like, oh really, wait, J.J. for prom king,” she said.

Claire Cross got her classmates on board with the idea, and pretty soon everyone in school knew who’d be crowned king. The vote wasn’t close. J.J. won by a landslide, or so we’re told.

His parents, Gary and Holly, were there as J.J. got crowned king, complete with his classmates screaming and chanting his name. It’s a moment his family says they’ll cherish.

“It was awesome, just the students here would set themselves aside and just let J.J. have a moment in the sun. It was overwhelming,” said Holly Kubancsek,”It was just amazing to me that everyone else loves him as much as we do.”

The experience was overwhelming too, for the girl by J.J.’s side.

“It just meant a lot to everyone and especially me, because he will always hold a special place in my heart. And now he’ll hold a special place in this school. And I hope he made an impact on everyone,” said Cross.

So you may be wondering what’s next for the prom king? J.J.’s mom told us he’ll spend another year at Center Grove High School developing some job skills. And as for Claire Cross, she’s headed to college this fall in Kentucky, but you can bet the two will stay in touch.

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