JHS Homecoming Queen overcoming adversity

Tawni Wanzek
The same week her dad spoke his first words after an injury in September, Tawni Wanzek was voted homecoming queen of Jamestown High School. Submitted photo

There have been a couple of positives in the life of Alice Wanzek in the past week. Those good things come after a difficult time that started on Aug. 17 when her son, Mike, 58, Jamestown, suffered brain injuries from an alleged blow to the head during an altercation.

Cory Almklove, 40, Jamestown, is being held at the Stutsman County Correctional Center on $200,000 bail on charges related to the incident.

"My son was in a hospital in Fargo for five or six weeks after the incident," Wanzek said. "Then they sent him to a nursing home in Jamestown."

Wanzek said she had been told to prepare for the worst and health officials gave her little hope for Mike's recovery.

"Then a nurse at the nursing home made an offhand comment whether he liked some music," she said. "Mike said 'Yes.' "


That single word was the first spoken since the incident.

And the glimmer of hope for recovery wasn't the only good news Wanzek received. Her granddaughter Tawni -- Mike's daughter -- was named Homecoming Queen at Jamestown High School.

Homecoming coronation was held Monday at the high school with Tawni Wanzek named queen and Gavin Haut king of Homecoming Week.

"Typically, the royalty is voted on by the junior and senior class," said Darby Heinert, one of the principals at Jamestown High School. "I think this year, the student body gravitated to their character."

Heinert said Tawni is active in all aspects of the student body and attends virtually all of the basketball and volleyball games throughout the season.

Alice Wanzek said Tawni was completely surprised when she was named homecoming queen.

"She knew she was in the running but never thought she would be named," she said.

Alice Wanzek said she and others will continue to pray for Mike's continued recovery.


"He was talking quite a bit today (Thursday)," she said. "He is asking questions and his mind is working pretty well."

And Alice Wanzek will help her granddaughter Tawni celebrate her honor as homecoming queen in what is certainly a unique year for the students at Jamestown High School.

"I'm proud of our student body," Heinert said. "They have had to adjust to new procedures and processes. It is neat to see they could have some fun and it do it safely in the midst of a pandemic."

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