The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Delta Omega Omega Chapter hosted the 49th Annual Debutante Cotillion on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Forty-two high school girls dressed in formal white gowns first danced to the Traditional Waltz across the floor with their fathers and then with their escorts after their formal introduction to society. The theme for this year’s Debutante Cotillion was, “Cultured Pearls in a Winter Wonderland.” Presenters were Cheesa Parham-Williams and Jonathan Rozelle, both of KARK -4/ KLRT-16.

Jacquelyn McCray, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, delivered a welcoming message as she presented the university scholarships and awards to all 42 Debutantes.

“I would like to encourage you to become a part of the pride,” McCray said, addressing the debutantes. After completing a three month program that exposed the Debutantes to social, cultural, academic, and community projects to support them in their success after high school Delta Omega Omega President, Toni McCastle confirmed that they were all certifiably equipped to be presented as they entered this new chapter in life.

As winter would have it, a slight winter weather delay only made the announcement of Miss Debutante a more joyous moment for everyone. Miss Alexi S. Mack, a senior at Pine Bluff High School, was crowned Miss Debutante 2016-2017. She is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. Christopher Mack Sr.

Her escort for the evening was Markeice J. Hopkins. Making the moment particularly emotional and special for Ms. Mack was the fact that her cousin, Lataylor Rembert, Debutante 2015-2016, crowned her, as her sister Aeriel Mack, Miss Debutante 2013-14, and family stood in support of her.

Becoming Miss Debutante embodies the characteristics that the mentors instilled in each debutante during the three-month program. She has to demonstrate social skills, grace and an awareness of sisterhood and community service. Miss Mack represents all of those characteristics in addition to receiving one of the Cotillions Highest GPA Awards with a cumulative 3.95 GPA.

In the midst of everything going on, Alexi Mack said, “I chose to become a Debutante because I thought it would be a great way to learn the mannerisms of being a lady and how to be a positive asset to others around me. The highlight of my Debutante experience was having the opportunity to meet and bond with other young ladies my age and also being crowned Miss. Debutante 2016-2017.”

The First Runner-Up was Miss Ciarra Collins, a senior at Eagles Landing High School in Mcdonough, Georgia, and daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth R. Collins II. Miss Ciarra Collins said, “I chose to be a debutante because my mother, Deidrea Butler Collins was a debutante in 1988 and she was escorted by my father, Dr. Kenneth R. Collins, II and my aunt, Rayshana Collins Adams was Miss Debutante in 1990. I feel that it is now a family tradition that I hope my little sisters and my cousin will follow suit. I have met so many wonderful young ladies and so many outstanding adult role models through this experience. The highlights for me were winning 1st Runner Up and receiving a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Scholarship.”

The Second Runner-Up was Miss Taylor Burnett, a senior at Pine Bluff High School and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jason Harris and Mr. Cedric Jackson. She said, “I felt like it was an honor to be selected to be a Debutante and I knew from past Debs that it was a wonderful experience! The highlight of my Debutante experience was the skate party. It was so much fun seeing everyone out of their comfort zone and enjoying themselves.”

The winner of the Margaret Spearman Award was Miss Desiree Furlow, a senior at White Hall High School and daughter of Ms. Sandra Furlow.

The Tri-Chairmen for this program, Regina Carter-Carroll, Chandra Griffin and Monica Isom, were there every step of the way as the young ladies were transformed from ordinary honor roll seniors to Esteemed Debutantes. Entry into the program required a grade point average of 2.50. Most of the participants had very high ACT Scores as well and cumulative grade point averages between3.00-4.21.

Each young lady took the floor individually to be presented to the audience of over four-hundred proud parents, relatives, mentors and supporters as their personal accomplishments and aspirations was announced by presenters.

Debutantes later thanked the Delta Omega Omega Chapter members and participants for the roles they played in their life, such as Miss Najallah Johnson, who said, “I chose to be a debutante because it was an honor to be selected for such a prestigious event. It has helped me to become more confident. Through this experience, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. The highlights for me from this experience were receiving the Miss Congeniality Award, the Highest GPA Award with a 4.21, and receiving a University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Scholarship.”

Not only did these young ladies learn social skills but they were also taught skills to prepare them for their ACT. They were taken on college tours that educated them on what college entails and what is required to excel at that level of education. Hundreds of scholarships have been awarded since the first Debutante Cotillion was held in 1968 at Hestand Stadium. On Saturday several scholarships were awarded for books, tuition, as well as full tuition/room and board cost.

This is a historical event that requires the help of numerous committee members in order for it to be successful. In addition to the Tri-Chairmen Regina Carter-Carroll, Chandra Griffin, and Monica Isom, other Delta Omega Omega Officers, Committee Chairmen, Committee Co-Chairmen and members worked tirelessly.

“Being selected to become a Delta Omega Omega Debutante is a great honor and privilege, which is only extended to a very limited number of young women,” said Delta Omega Omega Ivy Leaf Reporter and Publicity Committee Co-Chairman, Deborah Thomas.

“This is a part of our history, some of these young ladies’ mothers were once debutantes,” said Publicity Committee Co-Chairman Mattie Collins.

Daphne Dunn, UAPB’s Vesper Choir member sang “Because You Loved Me” by Céline Dion, and Whitney Houston’s “One Moment In Time” from her heart. Her powerful voice took the audience by complete surprise as she belted out the high notes. Chairman Chandra Griffin said it right when she said, “This is one for the books that people will talk about for a long time!”

The 42 2016 Debutantes represented Arlington High School, Dollarway High School, Eagles Landing High School, Pine Bluff High School, Ridgway Christian High School, Sheridan High School, Watson Chapel High School, White Hall High School and Wilbur D. Mills High School.

Following is the complete list of 2016-2017 Debutantes:

Debutante:  Matti L. Akins

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Ms. Rosalind Davies and the Late Thomas J. Johnson

                Presenter:  Mr. Cedric Webb, Uncle

                Escort:  Harold B. Hunter III

Debutante:  Brianna S. Allen

                School:  White Hall High School

                Parents:  Ms. Carmen Jones and Mr. Courtney Allen

                Presenter:  Mr. Charles Hobbs, Father

                Escort:  Toree B. Flenon

Debutante:  Kadazha C. Barnes

                School:  Watson Chapel High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Al Barnes

                Presenter:  Mr. Al Barnes, Father

                Escort:  John L. White III

Debutante:  Brittney S. Bass

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Ms. Buford, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Bass

                Presenter:  Mr. Keith Bass, Father

                Escort:  Ronald D. Rockett III

Debutante:  Nyjha N. Bates

                School:  Ridgway Christian High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Eric Bates

                Presenter:  Mr. Eric Bates, Father

                Escort:  James R. Scott III

Debutante:  Alicia Y. Boyd

                School:  Sheridan High School

                Parents:  Mrs. Tracie Boyd and Mr. Lugene Boyd

                Presenter:  Mr. Lugene Boyd, Father

                Escort:  Nickolas D. Gentris

Debutante:  Kyra L. Brice

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Kinney Brice

                Presenter:  Mr. Kinney Brice, Father

                Escort:  Dawson G. Hamilton

Debutante:  Taylor I. Burnett

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Jason Harris and Mr. Cedric Jackson

                Presenter:  Mr. Jason L. Harris, Father

                Escort:  Vincent A. Abraham

Debutante:  Katlyne K. Butler

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Derrick Butler

                Presenter:   Mr. Derrick Butler, Father

                Escort:  Eric K. Yelland

Debutante:  Ineka M. Clark

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Issace Clark

                Presenter:  Mr. Issace Clark, Father

                Escort:  Curtis L. Pittmon

Debutante:  Kelsey T. Coleman

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mrs. Tracy Nicholson and Mr. Joey Coleman

                Presenter:  Mr. Joey Coleman, Father

                Escort:  Dailyon J. D. Jones

Debutante:  Ciarra C. Collins

                School:  Eagles Landing High School

                Parents:  Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth R. Collins II

                Presenter:  Dr. Kenneth R. Collins II, Father

                Escort:  Anthony R. Adams

Debutante:  Ashanti T. Cooper

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Orlando Love, the Late Mrs. Clemertine Cole-Cooper and Mr. McConico Creggett

                Presenter:  Mr. McConico Creggett, Father

                Escort:  Cameron C. Blackwell

Debutante:  Ja'Kieria J. Davis

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Ms. Tracey Rabun and the Late Mr. Jason Lawrence, Sr.

                Presenter:  Mr. Dexter K. Lee, Cousin

                Escort:  Jaylon M. Deshazier

Debutante: Elana Dillingham

                School:   Wilbur D. Mills High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Dillingham

                Presenter:  Mr. Oliver Dillingham, Father

                Escort:  Michael Williams

Debutante:  DeAsia O. Epperson

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Parker

                Presenter:   Mr. Lynn Parker, Stepfather

                Escort:  Corveon S. Ganter

Debutante:  Desiree E. Furlow

                School:  White Hall High School

                Parents:  Ms. Sandra Furlow

                Presenter:  Mr. Earnesto F. Ford, Godfather

                Escort:  Tre’veyon Shelton

Debutante:  Ashlee N. Harris

                School:  White Hall High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Harris Sr.

                Presenter:  Mr. Arthur Harris, Sr., Father

                Escort:  Taylor A. Pugh

Debutante:  Moriah P. Houston

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mrs. Meegan Houston and Mr. Derric Bethune

                Presenter:  Mr. Derric Bethune, Father

                Escort:  Jordan M. Sims

Debutante:  Jamie C. Jefferson

                School:  Arlington High School

                Parents:  Ms. Gwen Jefferson and Mr. Rodney Jefferson

                Presenter:  Mr. Rodney Jefferson, Father

                Escort:  Cameron B. Robertson

Debutante:  Erin E. Johnson

                School:  White Hall High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Temitope Ojofeitimi and Mr. Masco Johnson III

                Presenter:  Mr. Robert Butler, Uncle

                Escort:  Kyle A. Bearden

Debutante:  Najallah M. Johnson

                School:  Watson Chapel High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. William Dunn and Mr. Jamie Johnson

                Presenter:  Mr. Clincy Trammell III, Grandfather

                Escort:  Kacy L. Higgin, Jr.

Debutante:  Taylor T. Johnson

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Scotty Johnson

                Presenter:  Mr. Scotty Johnson, Father

                Escort:  Jalen Jamie Bass

Debutante:  Alexandria S. Jones

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Ms. Aisha Madison and Mr. Anthony Jones, Sr.

                Presenter:  Mr. Anthony D. Jones, Sr., Father

                Escort:  Timmie T. Austin, Jr.

Debutante:  Kayla M. Kirklin

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents:  Ms. Becky Kirklin and Mr. Malcolm Howard

                Presenter:  Mr. Malcolm Howard, Father

                Escort:  Devontae J. Brown

Debutante:  Meaghan D. Kolen

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents:  Ms. Phyllis Childs and Mr. Royce Kolen

                Presenter:  Mr. Zachary Erkins

                Escort:  Demetris L. Johnson

Debutante:  Na'Keia J. Love

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Ms. Onekia Freeman and the Late Mr. Mark Love

                Presenter:  Mr. David Hogan, Godfather

                Escort:  Javin L. Thompson

Debutante:  Chandra J. Lusk

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents:  Ms. Beverly Lusk and Mr. Freddie Strain

                Presenter:  Mr. Freddie Strain, Father

                Escort:  Jordan Davis

Debutante:  Alexi S. Mack

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Rev. and Mrs. Christopher Mack, Sr.

                Presenter:  Rev. Christopher Mack, Sr., Father

                Escort:  Markeice J. Hopkins

Debutante:  Rachele L. McArthur

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mrs. Evelyn McArthur and Mr. William McArthur

                Presenter:  Mr. Terrance Mitchner, Uncle

                Escort:  Braelin Hence

Debutante:  Keyana M. Morehead

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents:  Ms. Lovetta Morehead

                Presenter:  Mr. Samuel Gibson, Uncle

                Escort:  Jimmy R. Sanders

Debutante:  Kimberley A. Moye'

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. Bearl and Mrs. Kimberly Cole-Bentley

                Presenter:  Lt. Michael Jenkins, Sr., Godfather

                Escort:  Evan R. Buckner

Debutante:  Mikeia K. Ridgell

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Michael Ridgell

                Presenter:  Mr. Michael Ridgell, Father

                Escort:  Devonta A. Harkless

Debutante: Catherine E. Shorter

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents: Mrs. Ella Evans and Mr. Glen Langel

                Presenter:  Mr. Glen Langel, Father

                Escort:  Donta L. Clock

Debutante:  Jamecia J. Shorter

                School:  White Hall High School

                Parents:  Ms. Shameka Craig and Mr. Solomon Shorter

                Presenter:  Mr. Solomon Shorter, Father

                Escort:  Brandon D. Thomas

Debutante:  Ariana J. Sims

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Mr. O.B. and Mrs. Martha Frost-Owens and Mr. Donald Sims

                Presenter:  Mr. Donald Sims, Father

                Escort:  Trayveon T. Woods

Debutante:  Genevia L. Sims

                School:  Dollarway High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Sims, Sr.

                Presenter:  Mr. Patrick Sims, Father

                Escort:  Rodney L. Tenzie, Jr.

Debutante:  Julia M. Taylor

                School:  White Hall High School

                Parents:  Dr. Janet Curry and Mr. Lou Taylor

                Presenter:  Mr. Lou Taylor, Father

                Escort:  Tylan C. Johnson

Debutante:  Destiny O. Thompson

                School:  Pine Bluff High School

                Parents:  Ms. Rhonda Jones and Mr. Eugene Thompson

                Presenter:  Mr. Eugene Thompson, Father

                Escort:  Eric D. Hall, Jr.

Debutante:  Mya D. Ware

                School:  Watson Chapel High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Michael Ware

                Presenter:  Mr. Michael Ware, Father

                Escort:  Anthony Luckett, Jr.

Debutante:  J'Tyra L. Wiley

                School:  Watson Chapel High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Steve Reeves

                Presenter:  Mr. Steve Reeves, Father

                Escort:  Mikal M. Johnson

Debutante:  Chandler C. Wilson

                School:  Watson Chapel High School

                Parents:  Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Wilson

                Presenter:  Mr. Dennis Wilson, Father

                Escort:  Kylan D. Williams