Kutztown junior Nikolette Nolte, who is battling cancer, was crowned Prom Princess at the 2017 Kutztown Area High School Prom held at Bear Creek Resort on May 12. Also crowned that night were Kutztown seniors Ashley Bleiler and Joshua Mengel as Prom Queen and King and junior Mason Brett as Prom Prince.
Diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal Large Mass B Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in April, Niki has spent considerable time in the hospital receiving treatments and meeting with doctors instead of studying for finals and swimming. Not sure at first if she would attend prom until the night before, Niki wasn’t going to let her recent diagnosis get in the way of this special event.
“I came to realize that the Prom allowed me to FORGET and focus on being a teenager again. It was great to just be able to hang out with my high school friends and make memories at the prom,” said Niki. “Being able to go to the prom helped lift my spirits. It allowed me to walk away from the reality of my situation. I enjoyed this prom very much in seeing all my friends and teachers, dancing a little bit, and living in the moment.”
“Seeing Niki smile and having the ability to be with her friends and take a break from thinking about the treatments made the prom extra special to us,” said her parents Karl and Melissa Nolte. “Loved seeing her SMILE!!!”
KAHS Class of 2017 Co-Advisor Chris Schumacher said the prom had extra meaning for everyone involved this year. A class officer, Niki served on the Prom Committee and was heavily involved in the planning for prom.
“This was the first time that most students have seen Niki since her diagnosis. The fact that almost every student voted for her as Prom Princess is a testament to how much students care about Niki,” said Schumacher. “In many ways, this night was as important for her friends and teachers as it was for Niki.”
Schumacher and the co-class advisor Kourtney DiSir were excited that she was able to attend prom, if only for a short period of time.
“For Niki, it was important to see all of her friends who reinforced that she is not alone in her fight,” said Schumacher. “There were so many hugs, pictures and smiles throughout the night. As with everything else in her life, Niki handled herself with strength and grace throughout the entire evening.”
Schumacher said they are proud of Niki.
“Can’t wait until she is strong enough to be back at school every day,” he said.
Kutztown Area School District Superintendent Dr. George F. Fiore spoke about Niki’s perseverance and determination to beat cancer.
“Niki is a special young lady. She has shown great poise and strength as she works through chemo treatments,” said Fiore. “With the support of her supportive family, I have no doubt Niki will be cancer free!”
Doctors told the Nolte family that the prognosis is good after chemotherapy treatments.
“Realizing that the community is behind me provides me comfort as I go through the chemotherapy treatments,” Niki said.
The community and school has helped her get through the hard days. Support has been shown through visits, the meal train for her family, gifts, letters, cards, phone calls, and many thoughts and prayers. The Kutztown School District as a whole has been supportive through phone calls, emails, gifts, and many visits.
“My junior class showed me their support by purchasing a blanket which says ‘No One Fights Alone.’ My friends have been awesome through all of this and I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without all of them,” Niki said.
The past month has been a dramatic change not only for Niki but also for their entire family including her brother, Blake, and sister, Krystal.
“As a family, we had to devote more time and support for Niki’s treatments, hospital visits, and doctor visits. The support from the community has made this easier and we know we will be a stronger family from all of this,” said her parents.
“I have realized through my recent illness not to take anything for granted,” said Niki.
Kutztown Area High School Principal Barry Flicker said Kutztown students and the Kutztown community have pulled together their support and prayers.
“They immediately did that when they heard the news about Nikki,” said Flicker. “In a community the size of Kutztown, an event like the Prom takes center stage. Having Niki on that stage was tremendous for the morale and spirit of Kutztown.”
Flicker said the road ahead is rough for Niki, but there is a road ahead and her friends and family are along side her on that path.
“The beauty of Kutztown is it’s a family. The students are born and raised here. The parents are born and raised here. The children belong to the community,” said Flicker. “When needed, they rally together.”
Niki thanks everyone who has reached out to her during this whole process, including the Lehigh Valley Hospital’s “awesome” nurses and doctors for saving her life. She thanks her family, friends, neighbors, various swim teams, Kutztown Area School District, junior class, restaurants, ULTA, Dawn’s Country Salon, KASMA and the music staff, various churches who have her on the prayer list and gifts, Rhythm In Motion for the dance they created, the HOBO’s, and “anybody I may have missed for all of their support.”
“The community and Kutztown School District has been AMAZING!” said her mom, Melissa. “The teachers have been so helpful from elementary to middle school to high school. The cards, letters, gifts, emails, and texts from everyone have helped Niki get through this difficult time. We were overwhelmed by the support and can’t thank everyone enough.”
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for everything that everyone has done for her,” said her parents.