MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

March 22, 2013

Middle-schoolers get life lessons at special event

More than 400 middle school girls filled the arena floor Thursday — giggling, hugging, and snapping self-portraits with cell phone cameras.

The girls, dressed in their best, sat around whimsically decorated tables at the Muskogee Civic Center as they waited for the annual Spring Tea to begin.

The Spring Tea, hosted by Muskogee’s Pregnancy Resource Center, is meant to “help girls think about their futures,” said Vicki Pack, director of the Pregnancy Resource Center.

“This provides tools to help these girls make wise and healthy lifestyle choices,” Pack said. “They’ll hear illustrations as to why it’s not prudent to have sexual relations before marriage.”

Guest Speaker Carol Sallee of Bixby regaled the middle school girls with humorous dating stories and straightforward advice on intimacy and choices.

The girls sometimes laughed, sometimes gasped and sometimes blushed as Sallee spoke.

“Our main focus today is about sexual purity and abstinence,” Sallee said. “The first thing you need to believe is you were created special and you are of great worth. The second thing you need to believe is there is a unique plan for your life.”

Sallee used volunteers attempting to crush cans and balance sticks to demonstrate the effects of peer pressure and failing to look ahead to the future.

She also asked the girls to make a choice Thursday.

“What we’re doing today is asking you to make a promise to the woman you will become in 10 or 15 years,” Sallee said.

Pack said this year’s tea was presented only to seventh-grade girls, and the plan is to keep the annual event for only seventh-graders in the future.

“Parents, school counselors and others felt that by eighth grade, some girls may have already made some unwise decisions,” Pack said.

Pregnancy Resource Center Board Member Ann Tolbert said the program is perfect for 12- and 13-year-old girls.

“At this age, they are transitioning from elementary school to middle school, and that is a big change,” Tolbert said. “We’ll sit them down, let them know they are special and let them know the choices they make today will impact their future.”

Participating schools included Alice Robertson Junior High, Benjamin Franklin Science Academy, Sadler Arts Academy, Fort Gibson Middle School, Norwood Middle School, Parkview School for the Blind, Porter Middle School, St. Joseph Catholic School, Hilldale Middle School and Boulevard Christian School.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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