The sound of giggles rises from among the warm buzz of hair dryers at the Pinellas Technical College's beauty salon.
Twenty-seven girls sit in salon chairs or at manicure stations, chatting about favorite nail colors and how, for the first time, extensions are being woven into their hair.
In the waiting area, Santana Holt and Kalandra Willis take turns poking at Santana's crispy bun and laughing. "It's so crunchy!"
The girls are there for the Silver Spoon Tea Party, a program created by the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. The goal is to help girls from underprivileged schools feel like princesses. They get hair and nails done, sleep over in a downtown hotel, receive etiquette lessons and new dresses, and ride around St. Petersburg in a stretch limousine.
The event ends with a late-afternoon tea party at the St. Petersburg Country Club, complete with finger sandwiches and former Miss America Ericka Dunlap.
Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the Woodson, said the weekend is all about opportunity and exposure. So many of the girls, Lipsey Scott said, would never frequent these places and "may never go again." But she hopes they're inspired to see themselves in that world.
Chaperones continuously remind the girls that they are special, smart, beautiful, strong — and loved.
Santana, who's 10, feels welcome. "It's like you can be from a different place," she said, "and they'll think that you're like family."