MANKATO — Mankato East High School staff had known for days. A couple of football players also were made aware before the coronation that this year’s crowning was going to go down a little bit differently than usual.
But the five young ladies, dressed in flowy white gowns, were none the wiser Friday afternoon.
As each girl’s name was announced, the spotlight followed her down the middle of the packed gymnasium with classmates applauding and calling her name. One by one, Marta Anderson, Minisha Frederick-Childress, Kjersten Lemke, Kjersten Parsons and Mandy Smith took the stage, eventually ending up side by side and holding hands.
As students in the crowd started stomping their feet in excitement, an announcement broke through the noise:
“For the first time in Mankato East history, we have a tie,” said emcee and ninth-grade teacher Nate Fuller. “For the first time ever, we have two queens.”
A few murmurs of disbelief went through the crowd, but then the applause swelled again. Dressed in their football jerseys, two East Cougars stood behind the five girls, each holding a crown they playfully moved over the girls’ heads.
Finally, the tiaras came to a rest on the heads of the 2012 Mankato East homecoming queens — Minisha Frederick-Childress and Kjersten Lemke.
“I’m so surprised,” Frederick-Childress said. “It was a good group of girls.”
Modest and sweet, Lemke said she had tried to keep her nomination on the “down-low,” so yes, she said, she was extremely surprised.
“But I think it’s awesome,” she said.
Frederick-Childress’ dad, Stephone Frederick, was in the front row. He said the win was a great surprise.
“I can tell she’s totally excited,” he said before trying to part the large crowd of students who had swarmed to get their pictures taken with the queens.
Both girls said they would celebrate their wins by going to the tailgating party, the homecoming game and a sleepover with the entire homecoming court.