Annual High Tea makes impression on young ladies



This week, some of the boys on Patrick Henry High School's campus donned buttoned-down shirts and black ties. Many of the girls dressed in gowns and sparkling jewelry.

The more formal attire illustrated their part in the Second Annual Ladies' High Tea at the Stockbridge school. They were dressed to the nines.

"We don't get much opportunity to do it," said Tiffany Tice, who attended the first Ladies' High Tea.

"Last year, the tea was really nice," added the 18-year-old, who has voluntarily remained at Patrick Henry, an alternative school, since her freshman year.

The tea is an annual effort the school's female faculty members to involve the female students in a formal event that celebrates them as young women. The event, Thursday, was used in 2010 as an opportunity to fill a void left not having traditional social events, such as proms and dances at the school.

This year's gala took the event a step further, including successful female leaders from the community, according to Danette Carroll, an English teacher at Patrick Henry.

"Last year, it was just the students, and the teachers," she said. "We had several etiquette classes and a fashion show."

Locust Grove Mayor Lorene Lindsey, Henry County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource Services Valerie Suessmith, and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, were among the many female dignitaries at the tea.

"I think it's really important for us to support the community," said Franklin, on her first visit to the alternative school.

"I think many young people have bumps along the way, just as adult do," she continued. "The key to success is learning to get up when you fall down. [Also,] being able to relate to people in different settings is an important skill to learn."

The former mayor said her success is due, in part, to a core support system in her family and friends.

"the grace of God, and the hard work of my family, I have achieved what I have," Franklin said.

Some 70 of the 117 participants were students, according to Patrick Henry Principal Dan Dewolf.

"The kids are excited about it," Dewolf said. "It allows them to be around successful ladies in the community, and learn what it takes to become successful in society."

The event had all the formal trappings of a social fête. Folded napkins rested on linen-drapped tables, adorned polished silverware and colorful centerpieces.

"This is great for the girls to get together and have a formal event, to come together and be who we are," said Brandi Hargis, 18, a senior at Patrick Henry. She voluntarily enrolled at the alternative school, and has attended Patrick Henry for the past two years.

Prior to the event, each student interested in attending the tea, had to complete an approved Women's History Month project for English or social studies credit. Each also had to take part in mini workshops on such topics as, dressing appropriately, proper etiquette and good manners.

Community sponsors of the event included The Cake House, Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Dots, and photographer, Greg Lee, all of Stockbridge.

"I think it's going to do a lot for our young ladies ... to see that there are unlimited opportunities for them," said Daketa Fonville, a social studies teacher at Patrick Henry.