With crowns shimmering and hands waving, the Homecoming princesses walk down the red carpet on the football field at Santa Ana Stadium with their fathers wrapped around their arms.
But this year, senior princesses Miranda Vazques and Angel Zhu will walk alongside their mothers as they are recognized by the students who voted for them.
The Homecoming court ceremony, which also honors the other five Homecoming princesses, will occur during half time at the Monarchs’ Homecoming football game against the Santa Margarita Eagles.
Both girls no longer have a father in their lives, but for different reasons – Vazques’s father unexpectedly passed away this year and Zhu’s father left her family when she was very young. Vazques and Zhu decided to run together as a way to support each other and honor their parents.
“[My dad] would have wanted me to be on court and to have the experience and to be honored by the school,” Vazques said.
At first, some of Vazques’ friends didn’t like the idea of her running for princess because they thought the experience would be difficult for her since her father had recently passed away. Even if some friends didn’t necessarily agree with it, Vazques decided that homecoming princess would be an awesome experience for her and her mom to honor her father.
“…I had talked to Ms. Steves who told me that I could walk with both my grandpas, and I knew that I had wanted to walk with my mom just because being different is not a bad thing,” Vazques said. “But my friends … were very loving and supportive.”
Zhu said that she too struggles with not having her father around, “especially every year when the father-daughter dance comes.” After her father left her family, Zhu learned to become more dependent and appreciative of her mother and siblings.
“… it’s even more special that I get to share [this] with my mom,” she said.
In light of their circumstances, Vazques and Zhu decided to run for princess to honor their parents, but to also send a message to people feeling insecure about themselves.
“It’s more of a personal thing but I also do want to spread a message that it’s ok to be different,” Vazques said. “It’s ok to have your mom and the support and love of our family [and] to honor your parents even if they are here or not.”
Zhu wants to empower people to be honest and true with themselves even if that means being different.
“I wanted to show to people that even if you don’t have someone in your life, you can still, with the help of God and your family and friends, make something good can come out of it. That’s why me and my mom are so close,” Zhu said. “I just wanted to empower girls and boys too. I feel that honesty and vulnerability is so rare a lot of times. People hide between a facade or their image in social media. [But] it’s ok to be real with people and it’s ok to show that we all have weaknesses and through that God makes us stronger.”
Both girls don’t seek to win but rather want to honor and appreciate their parents. Vazques and Zhu said they just want to enjoy the unique moment with their mothers.
“Now that both us are in court, I am not going to run for queen or anything,” Zhu said. “I would be fine with any of those girls getting it because they are all amazing. I am just going to see what happens.”