A tale of Cavalier royalty

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

Chirico to represent school through inspiration

By Jason Norman

Suffolk News-Herald

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After she became the 2003-4 Lakeland Homecoming Queen at the Cavaliers’ football game against Indian River last weekend, a jubilant Tonya Chirico was strolling through the school parking lot, ready for a celebratory dinner at the local IHOP. Suddenly, a woman stopped her.

&uot;Are you the queen?&uot; she asked Chirico. When the senior Lady Cavalier answered that she was, the woman told her that her young daughter wanted to talk to the queen.

Chirico saw a young girl standing behind the mother, and waved to her. Too nervous to speak, the girl waved back, and gave the new &uot;monarch-ette&uot; a huge smile.

&uot;She made me feel really special,&uot; Chirico recalls, a grin crossing her own face. &uot;As the queen, I’m going to try to set a good example. Like, everytime I see people talking about smoking or drinking or using drugs, I get on them about it.&uot;

A member of the Southeastern district-winning field hockey team last season, Chirico knows what it means to work hard until one reaches the top. &uot;I really have no idea why I wanted to run for queen,&uot; she admits. &uot;I just wanted to represent my school. But once I start something, I always want to win it. I was a little nervous on the Court, but I still wanted to win.&uot;

Lakeland voters get plenty of King Mark

In the week leading up to the Lakeland Homecoming football game last weekend, Mark Plenty was hard at work on the campaign trail, putting up posters reading &uot;Vote for Plenty of Mark!&uot; and smaller decorations imploring voters that &uot;X Marks the Spot!&uot;

People already knew plenty about Plenty. He’s a member of the varsity basketball team, the Distribution Education club (a business course for marketing students) and the Cavalier Singers, who entertain local hospitals, churches and fellow classmates with their show-tune intones.

But as &uot;Spirit Week&uot; (the days before Homecoming) came to an end, Plenty placed himself square in the pupil of Lakeland’s public eye.

It was &uot;Dress like your mate&uot; day, in which students dressed like their dating partners. Because Plenty’s girlfriend had already graduated from Lakeland, he chose to portray another lady: a grandmother! Decked out in a skirt, a polka-dotted dress and, of course, a gray wig and bifocals, Plenty truly stole the show.

So when he was standing on the platform the night of Homecoming, Plenty was nervous but pretty confident. &uot;It was all fun to do,&uot; he remembers. &uot;I had some tough competition up there, but I was friends with everyone I ran against, so it was OK.&uot;

Indeed it was, as he was named the 2003-4 Homecoming King. &uot;I was really glad to see my classmates full of school spirit,&uot; he says. &uot;I want to keep my class hyped up and help them concentrate on their books.&uot;

Plenty’s awfully good at that himself; he’s the proud owner of a 3.0 grade point average, and hopes to attend Virginia Tech or Clemson, and major in sports management.