Two Braden River High students introduced to society by the Royal Sara Mana Club.
Faith Walker, who has just finished her junior year at Braden River High School, understood the preparations were substantial when she was announced into society at the Royal Sara Mana Club's 52nd Debutante Cotillion April 15 at the Fete Ballroom in Lakewood Ranch.
She had to make sure her nails, makeup, hair, dress and shoes all were just right.
But then there was that one other thing. She had to learn how to curtsey.
“You have to curtsey all the way down to the floor, it was really hard to learn and do it,” Walker said.
She got through it, though, as did another fellow Braden River High student, Dynah Banks. They were two of seven debutantes introduced at the ceremony.
Walker and Banks said they participated in the debutante program because they thought it would generate a positive impact on the community.
“I was glad to be a part of something positive that showed educated, African-American women,” said Walker, who first learned about the program 10 years ago when her cousin, De’Vante Walker, served as an escort at the cotillion. She thought it looked fun at the time and never forgot about the program.
For this year's program, Walker said that she and the other debutantes would meet every Tuesday for four months, starting in January to practice for the ball. The debutantes learned how to waltz, how to curtsey and how to be a proper lady in society.
Banks said that the best part of the program was being together with the other debutants.
“I knew a few of the girls before, but being able to come together every week and have to go through this together really brought me out of my shell," said Banks, who graduated from Braden River on May 19. "It made me realize that it was okay to talk to people and be social.”
She will be attending Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. and the Royal Sara Mana Club will be providing scholarship funds to her, some which she raised herself.
Raising scholarship funds is one of a potential debutante's requirements in participating in the program. Walker will receive $900 in scholarship funds while Bank will be awared $500.
Banks said the program helped her choose Benedict, which is an HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities) member.
Although some stereotypes consider debutante programs to involve only the very rich, Banks and Walker said that simply isn't true.
“It was very down to earth," Banks said. "Getting to know the other girls and practicing the dances were just fun."
Walker agreed, especially about the dancing part.
“My favorite part was learning how to waltz with my escort, Jarrett Richardson,” she said.