By Johnny Jackson
Sixteen-year-old Tahsae Thompson was voted most improved among her peers. The recognition earned the high school junior a free makeover for the holidays.
"I was very excited and very shocked," Thompson said. "I didn't think I could win something like that ... to win something good, I felt very proud, very happy."
Thompson had been a student at Patrick Henry High School's North Campus for about a year, when she learned she won a day of pampering.
The spa day, held on Dec. 11, was the result of a partnership between the school's female mentoring program, Ladies of Vision (LOV), and a local organization for professional black women, called "And They Succeed (ATS)," according to LOV Founder Shannan Moore.
"To many, our students are considered 'troubled' or 'at-risk,'" said Moore, also a learning specialist at Patrick Henry. "To us, they're young people who've made mistakes and are, for the most part, trying to get themselves together."
Moore said she began the LOV Program in an attempt to address a need among some of the students.
"Almost two years ago, I decided to form a group for the young ladies at our school," she said. "It started with about 10 girls; there are 20 ladies in the group now.
"The initial purpose was to teach female students etiquette and how to conduct themselves as ladies.," continued the learning specialist. "Our group (LOV) has since morphed into a 'mentoring-counseling-mediation-etiquette-keep me from pulling that girl's hair out' organization."
Moore said ATS had agreed to sponsor the makeover for a student in the school's LOV Program, which consists of about 20 young women. The makeover recipient, she added, was voted by her teachers as being the most improved over-all, behaviorally and academically.
As the top vote-getter, she explained, Thompson received a free hairstyling by Touched by an Angel Salon in Stockbridge, free makeup consultation by MAC at Macy's in Southlake Mall, and clothes from New York & Company. Patrick Henry's orientation teacher, Clay Jolly, assisted with the makeover.
Thompson said the treat, in a way, was "an early Christmas gift." The teenager acknowledged the gift was symbolic of her learning experiences at Patrick Henry, and through the LOV Program.
"It's a group that will help make us into someone that we thought we couldn't be," said Thompson. "It helps us better ourselves."
Thompson said she hopes to better herself by pursuing a career as a pediatrician, "because I love working with children."
"I've learned that you can't always let people affect your actions and your feelings," she said. "You've got to do you. You've got to keep your head straight and on the right track."
Thompson pointed out her plans to return to her former Dutchtown High School on Jan. 6, 2011, a different person than the one who left the school a year ago.
"I would definitely love to make this [makeover] a yearly event," added Moore. "It gives the girls something to strive for and look forward to.
"I can honestly say that LOV has made a difference in the self-esteem of my girls, and my hope is that I can continue to make a difference," continued Moore. "It makes me so proud to see the improvement that the girls are making. I'd like to think that I had a small part in that."