It came as no surprise when Radek Dvorak was voted by his classmates to this year's homecoming court.
Radek, a senior at Century High School, is on the autism spectrum. He's outgoing, friendly — says "hello" to everyone he sees in the hallway — and a seemingly perfect pick for homecoming royalty.
On Sept. 8, CHS students elected Dvorak to be a top candidate for homecoming court. The student body also voted Carly Amundson, a classmate with Down syndrome, to be a homecoming court candidate. At Monday's coronation, Dvorak and Amundson were selected by their peers as finalists.
Radek said he was not surprised when he was picked. He said he wouldn't have minded being homecoming king but, in the end, was glad that he wasn't picked because he didn't want the pressure that came with having to write a speech.
"I was predicting that I was going be in the top 10," he said, adding that he's excited for the dance.
The student body's decision to select two students with disabilities for the 2017 homecoming court is testimony that the school "embraces all," said Sara Bohrer, a special education teacher and coordinator for the school's peer-to-peer program, which partners student-mentors with students with disabilities.
This is the third year the peer-to-peer program has been around at CHS — it also expanded last year to the two other Bismarck high schools — and the positive effects of the program are beginning to show.
"The data can’t lie," Bohrer said. "I mean, the percentage of kids who voted for these guys is just like everybody else."
Radek's mom, Kirsten Dvorak, said the students' decision to elect her son and Amundson shows that the school recognizes students with disabilities as being part of the entire student body.
“It says a lot that (Radek wasn't) king, because it sort of shows that they’re just part of the crowd. They have a presence here, but … they’re just like everybody else," she said.
Radek is a typical teenager. He likes video games. He's been to a homecoming dance before, and he went to prom last year. He's been involved in the peer-to-peer program at Century since its inception.
“It’s actually a really fun experience. It helps people get to know more people. It helps people with disabilities get out of their comfort zones, to try new things," he said.
Radek's classmates have gotten to know him well over the years. At coronation on Monday, he wore red Converse while all the other students wore black dress shoes; his classmates said this is "typical Radek."
“I would’ve been surprised if he wasn’t (picked for homecoming court)," said senior Ashley Eide, who's also homecoming princess this year.
Jordan Bentz, a senior, said the same is true for Carly, whom she took to prom this past spring. After that, she got to know Carly and her mom, and has stayed close ever since. Bentz, who is homecoming queen this year, even took Carly shopping over the week to find the perfect black dress for coronation on Monday.
“We made friends with all these students, and then our friends (did), and then it’s the friends of friends of friends,” Bentz said. “And then it just builds.”
Century's homecoming football game starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a dance at 9 p.m.