For most children, the first day of school is a chance to start fresh and show their peers how they have changed during the summer.
After this summer, a group of girls who participated in the Newtown Florist Club summer leadership program are ready to start their school year a bit more mature and with style.
The girls participated in a six-week summer program that teaches life lessons and strategies for success in today’s fast-paced world. In addition to meeting several guest speakers, the girls visited the University of Georgia, Lakeshore Mall’s Belk Department store, the Hall County Courthouse to witness the legal system in action and local restaurants to compare different dining experiences and how to act appropriately.
On each field trip, the girls learned life lessons and ways to improve themselves. While at Belk, the girls learned how their clothing choices make an impression on others.
“I felt like it was important for some of the girls to learn how to dress properly,” teacher Teresa Young said. “Because to be honest, the celebrities always feel that less clothing is more appealing. And the girls need to know that they can dress properly and get respect. What we teach all year is that you are judged by the clothes you wear. Your appearance is a walking billboard.”
Sometimes girls feel wearing revealing clothing will help them get attention from boys at school, but that is not the kind of attention the girls should try to get, Young said.
“Men will respect you based on what you wear,” Young said.
Belk sales team manager Moneta Brown gave the girls a lesson in personal style, color combinations and proper undergarments depending on the outfit.
Brown encouraged the girls to reach outside of their comfort zones as they selected clothes to try on. Instead of white T-shirts and blue jeans, the girls were asked to find something colorful to wear.
“Nowadays girls tend to be followers instead of leaders,” Brown said. “This gives them the opportunity to not be like their peers and to stand out from everyone else. You don’t want to be like everyone else and that’s what I tried to stress to them. You don’t have to be like everyone else. You’ll be the one (who’s) noticed when you’re walking down the hallway everyday. Don’t blend in with everyone else.”
The girls selected three outfits to model for friends and family at the program’s graduation ceremony in July.
Prior to the fashion show, the girls had their hair professionally washed, conditioned and styled by Le’Shay Christopher Salon in Gainesville.
The audience cheered for each girl as she posed and twirled showing off her unique style.
Brittany Knight, 13, said since participating in the program for the past four summers she’s learned how important it is to respect herself and others. She said she feels more prepared for her future and knows more about how to give her life quality.
“Some young ladies, they don’t know how to carry themselves,” Brittany said. “But in this program they teach you how to carry yourself.”
The store offered the girls discounts on their clothing selections to make purchasing the back-to-school fashions easier. Some of the girls who couldn’t afford to purchase the clothes were sponsored by donors.
Young said she was glad the girls in the program can start school with new back-to-school clothes.