By Jason A. Smith
Fourteen young ladies will be in the spotlight this weekend, as part of a program designed to enhance their social skills and promote educational opportunities.
The Southern Crescent Pearls Inaugural Cotillion will be held Saturday, at 6 p.m., at the Westin Atlanta Airport hotel, located at 4736 Best Road in Atlanta.
The event is sponsored by the Southern Crescent Pearls Foundation, Inc., and will feature high school juniors and seniors from Henry, Clayton and DeKalb counties.
The theme of the cotillion is "Revealing the Excellence Within."
One teen will be crowned Miss Southern Crescent Pearl 2010, according to Laura Scott-Gist, debutante mentor liaison chairperson for the non-profit foundation.
All participating debutantes will receive $150 book awards. Four girls will receive college scholarships in memory of Chandra Thomas, who died in December 2009.
The group is an affiliate of the Psi Alpha Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Scott-Gist said the girls will be "presented into society" at the cotillion, which caps off nine months of instruction with the goal of instilling enrichment, leadership, and social and professional etiquette in the students.
"The whole program is designed to mold young ladies, and to help them with their future educational endeavors ... so we can cultivate the future doctors and lawyers of tomorrow," Scott-Gist said.
The foundation's "core values," according to Scott-Gist, are "sisterliness, mutual respect, public service, unity, collaboration, personal integrity and accountability, fair and ethical business practices and [the] pursuit of excellence."
The program kicked off last April with etiquette classes, domestic-abuse seminars, a college fair and preparation for the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
Scott-Gist said students also participated in a service project, collecting clothes for the Securus House battered women's shelter and the Rainbow House children's shelter, both in Clayton County.
Cotillion Chairperson Stephanie Oliver said the benefits of the course, and the cotillion, include opportunities for "mentorship and guidance."
"We are trying to expose them to different places and activities, to force them to form relationships outside of their normal social circles," she said.
The cotillion is open to the public. Tickets are $50 for adults, and $20 for children. For more details, visit www.southerncrescentpearlsfoundation.com.