Lake Forest crowns little ‘Princesses’


Twenty-five fourth- and fifth-grade girls at Lake Forest Elementary School were crowned as “Princesses of Substance” last Thursday during a graduation ceremony.

AIDA MALLARD/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:41 p.m.

They were beautiful, poised and chic, wore their tiaras with pride and looked like princesses.

They are the “Princesses of Substance,” 25 Lake Forest Elementary School female students who earned the title through their character and good works.

Diane Hill, principal at Lake Forest, said the “Princesses of Substance” is an academic and character club for fourth- and fifth-grade girls formed this school year to help each girl achieve academic and character empowerment.

And last Thursday, nearly 150 moms, dads and frends attended the graduation ceremony held at Lake Forest.

Sponsored by fifth-grade teacher Vamedria Johnson, the “Princesses of Substance” are mentored by members of the University of Florida chapter of SISTUHS, or Strength, Initiative, Spirituality, Tenacity, Unity, Health, Substance, who work with the girls to promote character building. SISTUHS is a community service organization for women of color.

Brianna Bell, vice president of SISTUHS, said members will continue to serve as mentors during the next school year, working with the girls on such things as good manners, good attitude, hygiene, leadership skills, bullying and how to be a good daughter, sister and friend.

During the ceremony, the girls performed anti-bullying skits and a dance presentation to “I Believe I Can Fly” by R&B singer R. Kelly. During the crowning ceremony, the girls received tiaras from members of SISTUHS.

Hill told the girls to be worthy of their crown. “You must be beautiful from the inside out,” Hill said. “Show your teachers, parents and most of all show yourself that you’re worthy of the crown.”

Words of encouragement were offered by Alena Lawson, who works as an investigator with the 8th Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office in Gainesville and served for 21 years with the Gainesville Police Department as a police officer, detective, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant.

Lawson shared “nuggets” for a successful life. She told the girls to be respectful, to avoid conflict, to say “I’m sorry,” to be a role models, and to be true to themselves and love themselves. Lawson provided each girl with a hand mirror with a sticker bearing Lawson’s nuggets.

“Avoid conflict,” Lawson said. “It’s OK to walk away.”

Lawson told them to say “I’m sorry” even when they believe they’ve not done anything to be sorry for. “Take the high road,” Lawson said.

“Be a role model,” Lawson said. “Someone is always looking at you.”

Johnson and Hill also recognized community members who volunteered to work with the girls throughout the school year.

When asked what being a “Princess of Substance” means, fourth-grader Janae Reid said, “It means love and kindness and I learned you should not be a bully.”

The “Princess of Substance” club meets from 3-5:30 p.m. on Thursdays during the school year.

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