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New Girls' Program Unveiled at Holiday Tea

Margaret Summers | 12/23/2013, 3 p.m.
Judge Mary Terrell beams with pride during her annual holiday High Tea at the Woman's National Democratic Club on Dec. 7. Judge Terrell founded the High Tea Society for girls in 1997. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

Thapura and Janazjia Smith, sisters who joined The High Tea Society-Girls Connected at different times, praised the program. “I’ve been in the organization pretty much all of my life,” said Thapura Smith, 21. The girls’ mother worked at night, and Thapura Smith recalled being frightened at home, alone and hearing gunshots fired in her Sursum Corda neighborhood in Northwest. “But through The High Tea Society-Girls Connected, I’ve been exposed to the Kennedy Center. I met Dr. Dorothy Height (the late chair and former president of the National Council of Negro Women). I went to college. Who else can say they’ve sat in an ambassador’s home drinking tea and later enjoying a four-course meal?”

Janazjia Smith, 16, an honor student at Dunbar Senior High School in Northwest, said she joined the organization when she was six. “Thanks to The High Tea Society-Girls Connected, I can say with confidence that [when I finish] college, I am going to be an FBI agent.”

Terrell said The High Tea Society-Girls Connected has helped nearly 700 girls in its 16-year existence. Most girls advanced to their next school grade and graduated from high school on time. Girls who stayed five or more years weren’t suspended from school or incarcerated.

“For our country to ignore our girls is reprehensible,” said Terrell. “When you educate a girl, you educate a nation.”