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Paynesville Press - February 23, 2005

Teenagers treated as 'princesses' at ball

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

On Sunday, four dozen girls learned how it felt to be a princess for a day. During the second annual Princess Ball, sponsored by Crystal Hills Assembly, the girls had the opportunity to wear formal gowns and be reminded of their beauty.

"I felt like a princess," said 14-year-old Ariel Jones, who learned how a day of pampering can change how a girl feels about herself. After donning a navy blue ball gown with a sequined top and spending the day preparing for the ball, she noted that her parents and friends thought she was gorgeous. Most importantly, she felt beautiful.

princess ball For 13-year-old Aly Schultz, the grand march was the best part of the evening. "I liked being in the spotlight; I really felt like a princess then," she said. She liked every part of the evening, "The makeup, the dress, the grand march, it all made me feel beautiful," she said.

Aly Schultz was escorted during the grand march by Bill Virant.

Schultz, a seventh grader at PAMS, won't soon forget how the evening made her feel. When she woke up on Monday, she still felt beautiful, she said, even though her dress was hanging in the closet and the makeup had been washed off. She hopes the feeling will last a long, long time.

That's exactly what the event organizers hope the girls - grades 6-12 - take from the Princess Ball. "These girls are important," said Kami Gleitz, one of the organizers. "We don't ever want them to forget how beautiful they are," she added.

Teen years can be very difficult, added organizer Ann Miller. Just one negative comment from a peer can destroy the self-esteem of a teenage girl, she said. The Princess Ball is a way to help build self-esteem and help the girls realize they are beautiful in God's eyes, added Miller.

The first Princess Ball was held in December 2003 after a group of women at Crystal Hills pondered ways to make pre-teen and teen girls feel special, said Gleitz.

Organizers considered last year's ball a success when 40 girls attended. This year, they planned for 50, and 48 girls actually attended. Many were repeat attendees, said Gleitz.

The evening was all about beauty. The ballroom, actually the dining room at Northern Lights, was decorated in hearts and princess adornments. Table decorations included a Bible verse from Psalm 45: "The King is enthralled by your beauty. Honor him for he is your Lord."

Even the door prizes were about being pampered. Lotion, body wash, nail polish, and other "girly" items were given away so the girls could continue to treat themselves after the evening was over.

Before they were treated to dinner and an evening of dancing, games, and treats they were escorted by adult volunteers through a prom-style grand march, which was attended by about 75 spectators.

The event actually began hours before the grand march, when the girls were treated to low-cost hairdos, makeup, and manicures by several area cosmotologists and volunteers. The girls wore formal dresses for the event, some donated, to make them feel beautiful and important.

Once the girls spent an afternoon being pampered and fussed over, more than their appearances changed, according to Gleitz. Their demeanors were different, and the girls actually carried themselves differently, she said.

The speaker, a youth minister from Accepted Girls Ministry, helped reinforce the message that the girls were important. She told the girls they were always princesses in God's eyes. "She told us we were, 'Always His jewels,' " said Jones.

While the event was sponsored by Crystal Hills, all area girls were welcome at the ball, regardless of their religion because everyone needs to feel beautiful, said Gleitz. Also, no boys at the ball meant no pressure, added Gleitz.

Gleitz - who organized the event with Marlys Houk, Ann Miller, Jaime Miller, Val Miller, Becky Schaumann, Traci Schmidt, Trishia Schultz, and Tami Zwiefel - was thrilled with the turnout and the support the community gave in the form of donations of dresses, services, and door prizes.

There will definitely be a third annual Princess Ball, Gleitz said.

And Jones and Schultz will both be there, they agreed. "Going there makes you feel like someone wanted you there for a reason," said Jones. "You should feel like that all the time," she added.

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