Just days after the pool party, Brown was at home when her cell phone jingled. It was a local number. She answered: “Who is this?”
It was the coach, she says, asking for Jaimi.
“Yes, hold on a second,” Brown said.
She held the phone away from her mouth for a moment.
“Hello!” she said, adopting her teenaged-girl voice.
Brown listened for a minute, then let out a scream.
“Oh my god!” she squealed. “That’s amazing!”
Even today, Wendy Brown’s face lights up when she talks of making the cheer team. When she walked into her first day at Ashwaubenon High on September 2, she had a spring in her step. She was thrilled when she received her locker, number 19.
In homeroom, Brown remembers, the teacher had to call “Jaimi” three times before she remembered to say she was present.
“You’re daydreaming, huh?” Brown recalls the teacher saying. “That’s okay. It’s your first day? And you’re new here?”
Brown nodded. One of the cheerleaders from the pool party was in the same homeroom and greeted her enthusiastically. “She said, ‘Oh my god, we have the same schedule! Oh my god, we’re in the same classes!’”
During choir, Brown says she did not try to conceal her singing talents. She says the teacher told her that her voice was “very mature,’” to which Brown replied, “I’ve been singing a long time.” Brown was immediately drafted for the senior choir. Court documents also confirm Brown’s academic ambitions: She reportedly told Demeny that she had “already covered the material in the integrated science course and could be successful in a high level.”
At lunch time, Brown lined up with the rest of the students in the cafeteria. Brown says that she noticed some students making fun of a girl sitting on her own. “I just told her ‘just ignore them … they’re just jealous, you must have something that they don’t have.’” And then Brown says, she gave the girl a piece of advice: “Be who you are.”
That afternoon, Brown tried on her cheerleading uniform in the Jaguars locker room for the first time. It was deep green with white sleeves, accented with glistening gold piping. The pom poms were green in one hand, gold in the other. On her chest was the giant gold “A” for Ashwaubenon, and “JAGUARS” in a felt, athletic font. “Pretty cool,” she remembers thinking. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m in a cheerleader uniform.’ … It was like a trophy or award, like, ‘This is mine?’”
On September 8, a week into the school year, Associate Principal Dirk Ribbens reviewed the first round of truancy reports. A stickler for attendance, Ribbens noticed that one student had not returned after her first day. He contacted Don Penza, the police liaison officer for the high school. Penza and Ribbens did not respond to interview requests, but according to the criminal complaint, Penza marched straight over to the student’s home address. When no one answered, Ribbens contacted the student’s previous high school in Nevada. What they told him was confusing: Jaimi was there, taking classes. When school officials called the student’s home, they spoke to Judith, Brown’s mother. Judith told Ribbens that her daughter “has a history of identity-theft type crimes.”