Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At Coachman Fundamental Middle School in Clearwater, 50 girls attend a tea party dressed as historical women


On Sunday, they'll remember their mothers, but on Wednesday they paid tribute to the other women in their lives — those who had opened doors, shattered glass ceilings and paved the way for a brighter future. "Today I am Michelle Obama," said Deja Blunt, 13, donning a sleeveless black dress. "I am the first African-American first lady of the United States, wife of our 44th president, Barack Obama. I am a lawyer, Chicago city administrator and community outreach worker, but foremost, mother of Sasha and Malia." Deja was speaking at the third-annual Women of History Tea at Coachman Fundamental Middle School.

The affair honored women who made history by being "firsts" in their field or profession. The 50 girls in attendance had signed up for the tea on a first-come, first-served basis.

They dressed in period attire and shared a few comments about the woman they chose to represent.

Condoleezza Rice and Coco Chanel made an appearance as did Katie Couric and Sarah Palin. Female sports figures, astronauts, entertainers and scientists all tipped tea cups.

Jalesya Jones, 12, was Billie Holiday with a white gardenia in her hair and an evening gown.

"I'm the first African American to work with an all-white orchestra," she told her audience.

Kaitlan McKinney, 12, dressed as Anne Boleyn (the second and most famous wife of King Henry VIII) and said she was "one of the most inspirational queens of England, yet the first to be beheaded."

Maya Folan Johnson, 13, twinkled in a sparkly white skater's dress as Tenley Albright, the first American figure skater to win gold in the Olympics.

And Cayli Caruso, 14, wore an aviator's cap, neck scarf and leather jacket as Amelia Earhart, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Assistant principal Carolyn Underwood coordinated the affair.

"This is all about self-esteem, respect and decency," she said. "It's an opportunity for girls to come together and display good manners and learn about other women and what they've achieved. Hopefully, they'll realize, 'I can do this.' "

Underwood said she plans to do something for boys next year.

The school's cafeteria was transformed into a fine dining area with silk flowers, pink tablecloths, purple and white tulle and organza. Archways were covered in purple wisteria.

The young ladies dined on tea sandwiches, petit fours, chocolate-covered strawberries and grapes — all while 16 young male servers poured their tea and replenished their finger foods.

Sierra Minott, the reigning Miss Florida, was the keynote speaker.

Minott graduated from Fort Myers High School in 2006 with an International Baccalaureate diploma and a grade point average of 5.13. She said her goal as Miss Florida was to help empower young women.

"We can be the first in so many ways," she said. "Women are smart, strong and beautiful. We can be all of that."

She stressed abstinence, self-respect and determination.

"When you believe in yourself," she said, "you can achieve anything."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected]

At Coachman Fundamental Middle School in Clearwater, 50 girls attend a tea party dressed as historical women 05/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  2. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  3. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  4. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]