Whitney Kropp (third from left)
John M. Galloway/Detroit News/AP
10/01/2012 at 09:50 AM EDT
When Whitney Kropp was nominated for her school's homecoming court as a prank, she never expected the outpouring of support she received from her community and the Internet.
What began as a cruel joke has turned into an unforgettable experience for the 16-year-old, who attended Ogemaw Heights High School's coronation on Friday, CNN reports
"I'm so happy – this is so much right now for me," she told reporters.
When she first learned her nomination was a prank, Kropp says she felt "like trash" but after surveying her family and friends, she decided to stay on the court, which resulted in her West Branch, Mich., community rallying around her.
Several local business donated Kropp's homecoming gown and shoes – and hairstylist Shannon Champagne donated her services.
"Every girl looks forward to being on that homecoming court and for her name to be called. For her to be so excited about that and then just to find out it was all a joke, it really touched me," Champagne said.
Meanwhile, a Facebook titled "Support Whitney Kropp" currently has 126,134 likes with users from across the nation sharing their support with the teen.
"When I saw your story on the news last night, I cried tears for you and for those who hurt you. I pray that they will learn from the strength that you have shown. May you continue to show the world the wonderful person you are. Great job for standing up for yourself and for the message you have sent to others. You have touched many lives," one commenter, Sharon Kotts, wrote on the page.
But despite the malicious intentions of a few students, Kropp has nothing but praise for her high school.
"The school is fantastic. They treated me so well here and I couldn't ask for more," she said.
When asked by reporters whether she had a message for others who are bullied, Knopp said: "Stand up for what you believe in and go with your heart and go with your gut. That's what I did, and look at me now. I'm just as happy as can be!"