The Hilton Garden Inn was transformed into a Mardi Gras themed masquerade ball on Saturday evening, and Ardmore’s Precious Pearls debutantes made their debut.

The Precious Pearls of Ardmore is a group whose purpose is to improve the quality of life for high-school-aged young women. Experienced counselors and mentors encourage personal growth in the girls by introducing them to all kinds of new experiences. These experiences include everything from self defense courses, to how to navigate a table setting at a fine restaurant, to volunteering their time at the Veterans Center. Their biggest, grandest event, however, is the Debutante Ball.

“This was the fourth year we’ve had the ball, and it was the first year we had it at the Hilton,” Terri White, president of the organization said. “I’m thrilled with how it all turned out. We ended up with about 80 attendees and raised almost $3,000,” she concluded.

One of the highlights of the evening is the waltz the girls and their escorts perform to show off some of the skills they’ve learned over the course of their program.

“The board members got together and taught the kids the dance,” White said. “It’s how we present the girls to everyone, and the kids love it. The families all watch and are amazed with everything they’ve learned,” she added.

“The most wonderful thing is watching the girls that have been with us from the beginning. To just watch the transformation they have made from girls into young ladies has been an honor,” White said. White also loves the camaraderie and friendship the program has helped forge between its members.

“It’s great to see the way the girls all get along,” she added. “They didn’t all know each other when we began, but from day one all of the girls have stuck together and become just like a little family.” 

This is a family that is also always prepared to welcome new members with open arms.

“This year we had two new girls, and they fit right in,” White said. “They just all clicked.”

Even though the annual ball has come and gone for the year, the program continues. When the girls graduate they will each be awarded a scholarship of $500 for every year they have been with the program. This can add up to $2,500 for a young woman who has stayed with the program since the eighth grade. This scholarship can then be used to further the young graduate’s personal educational interests.

“Our main goal is to promote education. We tell our girls never stop learning,” White said. “If a girl wants to use the scholarship for a university, she can. If she wants to use it for community college, she can. If she wants to go to the technology center, she can,” White concluded. In essence, this scholarship is simply one more tool to empower a young woman to pursue her own educational aspirations, whatever those may be.