BY RITA TODD OF ALPHA PSI OMEGA
On Saturday, March 11, 2017, five young ladies made their official debut to society. Miss Zaria Allen, Miss Helen Barnett, Miss Ayana Bronner, Miss Ricki Robbins and Miss Ana Williams were presented at the Burney Center on the campus of UNC Wilmington. The culminating activity was held following their participation in months of activities, events, and workshops.
Several sorority chapter members participated in the presentation program. Ms. Kimberly Bankston, current president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® Alpha Psi Omega Chapter, provided the “Welcome”. Ms. Rita D. Todd spoke about the “Occasion” and introduced Ms. Rhonda Bellamy who served as the Mistress of Ceremonies. Mrs. Alexis Carr Perkins delivered information regarding the 2016 – 2017 Debutante Program and introduced a slideshow highlighting the Debutante Experience. Mr. Nathaniel and Mrs. Lynore Young, parents of the 2015 Debutante Queen, shared with the audience their experiences during the 2014-2015 Debutante Program. The 2015 Debutante Queen, Miss Jasmine Young, also shared her thoughts and feelings about her participation in the program.
The 2017 Debutantes performed three dances. The first dance was with debutantes only. The second dance was with their marshals (fathers). The third and final dance was with their escorts. The cotillion was executed with skill, precision and grace. Mr. Ronald Holmes, baritone soloist and bass section leader at St. James Episcopal Church, serenaded the Debutantes with two songs, “Unforgettable”, and “Isn’t She Lovely”.
The 2017 Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® Debutantes were:
Miss Zaria Hydea Allen is a senior at John T. Hoggard High School. She is the daughter of Mr. Steven Allen, who served as her marshal and Ms. Crystal E. McDuffie. Her escort for the evening was Mr. Trejan Lange Houser. Trejan is a junior at Hoggard High School and is the son of Mr. Donald Houser and Ms. LaTonia Houser.
Miss Allen’s activities at Hoggard include being a member of the varsity track team; a participant in “Striving to Achieve Excellence” (STAE) Program; a junior varsity cheerleader, and a member of the Legacy Club. She is very active member of Price Cathedral AME Zion Church where she is a member of The Girls’ Choir; the “Buds of Promise”; the Y’s Missionary Group; the Liturgical Dance Team; the Children’s and Youth’s Usher Board; and the Children’s & Youth Choir. Zaria has also served as Vacation Bible School Assistant at Ebenezer Baptist Church and as program assistant with Wilmington’s Residential Adolescent Achievement Place Afterschool Program (WRAPP). Miss Allen also participates in the Authentik Dance Complex; “Techniques in Motion” Dance Company and the Norak Contemporary Dance Company. She has volunteered for the AMEZ Housing CDC and as a participant in the American Heart Walk.
Zaria’s talents and hobbies are dancing, modeling, running track and cheerleading. Following high school graduation, she plans to attend Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, NC where her goals include becoming a pediatric nurse while continuing her dance studies.
Miss Helen Eileen Barnett is the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Clifford D. and Ms. Waltrina Barnett. Her father served as her marshal and her escort was Mr. Christopher Lekoa Apisa. Christopher is the son of Mr. William and Mrs. Christine Apisa. Miss Barnett and Mr. Apisa are seniors at John T. Hoggard High School.
Miss Barnett is active in several organizations at John T. Hoggard High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a student of the Advanced Art/AP Studio Art Classes and serves as the communication’s director for the National Art Honor Society. Helen is a member of the Women’s Varsity Soccer Team and a violinist in John T. Hoggard’s Orchestra. In the community, she served as an artist for the Forest of Dreams Mural.
Helen is a member of the Audio Visual Ministry Team at Warner Temple AME Zion Church. Miss Barnett enjoys working on her art in her spare time.
Helen’s achievements, honors and awards include Academic Recognition for maintaining a 4.0 or higher Grade Point Average from ninth through twelfth grades; the Scholastics Art & Writing Contest Gold Key winner; and placing first in the AME Zion Church Cape Fear Conference’s “Youth-a-Rama”.
Miss Barnett will be attending High Point University in the fall of 2017. She plans to major in Studio Art, minor in Spanish and graduate in 2021. Her goal is to become an Art Director.
Miss Ayana Daneesha Bronner is a senior at John T. Hoggard High School. She is the daughter of Mr. Reesheim and Ms. Tori Bronner. Her father, served as her marshal and her escort was Mr. Devaughn Marquez Shepard who is a sophomore at EA Laney High School. Devaughn is the son of Mr. Courtney Shepard and Ms. Carla Hansley.
Miss Bronner is a member of “Dolls of Inspiration” (DOI) Dance Group, “Girls Rocking in the South” (GRITS) and “Striving to Achieve Excellence” (STAE). Her awards include recognition as a member of the “National Youth Leadership Forum: Engineering and Technology Distinguished Alumni and as a finalist in the National American Miss State Contest. Ayana is also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and is a nominee for the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists Award of Excellence. Her hobbies and special interests include modeling, dancing, math and science.
Ayana plans to earn a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and cosmetology. Her goal is to own an engineering company before the age of 30.
Miss Ricki Marie Robbins is a senior at North Brunswick High School and is the daughter of Mr. Ricky T. Robbins and Ms. Sheila Nixon Carr. Her father served as her marshal and Mr. Desmond Lee Radford was her escort. Desmond is also a senior at North Brunswick High School and is the son of Mr. Chester Devane and Ms. Sharon Radford Devane.
Rickki’s extra-curricular activities include serving as a cadet in the Junior ROTC and singing in the Vicki Pridgen Youth Ensemble. She has worked as an intern at Southeastern Pre-school Educational Center (SPEC); all while earning the distinction of the A/B Honor Roll. Miss Robbins is employed in a part-time capacity at one of the Hardee’s locations in Leland, NC.
Miss Robbins’ hobbies are cooking and drawing. She aspires to be a film producer and to become involved as an American to help stop the violence.
Miss Ana Jahvia Williams is the daughter of Mr. John M. Sidberry and Ms. Jewel Ballard. Miss Williams attends EA Laney High School. Her father, Mr. Sidberry served as her marshal and Mr. Ja’Quel Sidberry served as her escort for the evening. Ja”Quel is the son of Mr. Anthony and Ms. Janis Sidberry and also attends Laney High School.
Miss Williams’ activities include serving as president of the “Region O Council for the Advancement of Minorities in Engineering” (ROCAME) chapter and serving as president of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter. She is a member of Laney’s varsity softball and track teams. Ana is also a member of the National Honor Society. In addition to the National Honor Society, she is a member of the BETA Club and has received an academic pin for establishing and maintaining a 4.0+ GPA. Ana has been selected for the All-Conference Team for track, the stat rounds in track and the second round playoffs in softball.
Ana’s career goals include earning a degree in engineering – mechanical, biomedical or chemical. She also wants to increase the level of interest in the field of engineering among African-American females.
Following the introduction of the debutantes, their marshals, their escorts, and their mothers, Mrs. Natalie Hinton Stalling and Ms. Kimberly Stalling presented the awards. Miss Ana Williams was voted “Miss Congeniality” by her debutante peers, and she was selected by the Awards’ Committee based on her interview, biographical essay and transcript as “Miss Ivy” Scholarship Award Recipient. The 2017 Debutante Queen’s Court consisted of Miss Ayana Bronner as 2nd Runner up; Miss Zaria Allen as 1st Runner up; and the 2017 Miss Debutante Queen was Miss Helen Barnett. Miss Barnett was crowned by the 2015 Debutante Queen, Miss Jasmine Young who is a freshman at Princeton University where she is majoring in Operations Research and Financial Engineering.
The families and guests of the Debutantes enjoyed a reception and dancing following the program. The 2016 – 2017 Debutante Program Chairperson, Rita D. Todd and Vice-Chairperson, Alexis Carr Perkins expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to lead and serve the program participants and the community.