Jivin’ at homecoming
Football wasn’t the only action going on Friday night in Owatonna, but there was also a little jiving to the beat by this year’s Homecoming queen and her court.
And for Queen Julia Dallenbach, it was extra sweet to be able to twist and shout in front of the crowd. She is recovering from a spinal fusion that placed two rods and 21 screws in her back earlier this year. Since her surgery on June 21, Dallenbach hasn’t been able to compete in dance like she has for many years.
But she didn’t let a back surgery hold her back at Friday’s homecoming. “It was a little hard,” Dallenbach confessed. “I was just having so much fun that I ignored the pain,” she said, adding she’s not supposed to jump or twist right now to keep the screws and rods from breaking.
Dallenbach was crowned queen at Owatonna High School Sept. 30 while Carson DeKam, a captain of the unbeaten Huskies football team, was picked king. The new royalty teamed up for several festivities during the week, including coronation, dress-up days and the homecoming parade throughout the downtown area in which thousands of people attended.
“I was shocked,” Dallenbach said of becoming homecoming queen. “I’m really honored, and I’m grateful.”
But it wasn’t becoming queen that made Homecoming extra special for Dallenbach. It was the fact that she got to be a queen candidate while her twin brother, Jaden, was a king candidate. “It’s another fun experience we get to do together,” she said. “It was very exciting for both of us,” she added.
Dallenbach took to the field during halftime to perform a dance featuring “a mix of different songs” with the queen candidates. “We made up a dance for the student section,” she said.
In fourth grade, Dallenbach was diagnosed with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. “It progressed and got worse. When it got severe, I needed a spinal fusion,” she explained. The goal of the fusion is to make her spine straight again.
Even though she was dancing for a few minutes Friday, Dallenbach still isn’t able to take part in dance competition. “The hardest thing is mentally. I feel ready, but my body isn’t ready. That’s the hardest,” she said, noting it generally takes a year to fully recover.
In addition to dance, the homecoming queen is involved in student council, National Honor Society, DECA and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Dallenbach says student council is her favorite activity. “I really enjoy planning events and seeing the turn out of them,” she said.
Last year, Dallenbach helped plan all the homecoming events as chairperson of the homecoming committee. She recalls the curveball Mother Nature threw at them on the night before the parade and big game when a small tornado ripped through the downtown area. “We had to redo everything,” she said.
Dallenbach joined Owatonna Schools in sixth grade. Though she initially found it difficult to make friends, she has since found the community “very welcoming.” She previously attended Triton School in Dodge Center where her mother, Jill, is an art teacher.
Becoming homecoming queen at Owatonna, Dallenbach said, is the last thing she ever expected to happen to her.
She hasn’t decided on her career plans yet, but she hopes to do something in the medical field, possibly with physical therapy.