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Long IslandSuffolk

West Islip teen sings for brother, wins homecoming king

Jacob Semken and Rachel Swenson are crowned Mr.

Jacob Semken and Rachel Swenson are crowned Mr. and Miss West Islip at the 2015 Mr. and Miss West Islip competition at West Islip High School on Oct. 7, 2015. Photo Credit: Jen Uihlein

If love is a labor I'll slave till the end/ I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand.

Jacob Semken sang this line from Rise Against's "Swing Life Away" Wednesday night on the stage at West Islip High School, while his 19-year-old brother, Travis, looked on.

Travis suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy, and during the contestant introductions for the Mr. and Miss West Islip competition, it was noted that Jacob couldn't do as much community service as he would have liked because he spends part of his spare time helping care for his brother.

So when Jacob was crowned Mr. West Islip, it was a victory for two.

"I really wanted this for him," Jacob said. "He's such an important part of this town, and it's in his honor."

For decades, West Islip High School has used a pageant-like competition to crown a homecoming king and queen. Rachel Swinson stood on the stage with a tiara on her head and a paper plate with pink Magic Marker in her hands after being crowned Miss West Islip. The plate was used to relay the results and was given to Swinson as an added souvenir.

She'll enjoy every part of this victory after overcoming stage fright during her high school days to offer a stirring rendition of "All That Matters" from the Broadway play "Finding Neverland."

"It showed how hard I worked, and how I'm not supposed to be scared," she said of the performance.

She added that after preparing properly, "You get up here and you're fearless."

Dean Timmons and Samantha Drake were named Mr. and Miss West Islip runners-up, respectively, on a night that featured everything from Cab Calloway-like "scatting" to a Lady Gaga tribute dance by Mike Magaraci that earned squeals from the crowd.

"I think the idea is that it's not a popularity contest," West Islip teacher and adviser Noreen Matthews said of homecoming king and queen coming down to a competition. "...It's a good reflection of West Islip."

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