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NMSU Valencia County Extension Service helps middle school girls discover their inner-princess

LOS LUNAS, N.M. - Eight middle-school girls earned their princess crown recently after completing the Modern Day Princess course led by New Mexico State University's Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service home economist Ann-Marie Wilson.

Eight Manzano Vista Middle School students completed the Modern Day Princess program lead by NMSU Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service home economist Ann-Marie Wilson and earned their crowns. They are, front, Griselda Parra; back row from left, Cheyenne Sands, Leslie Mendez, Miriam Mendoza, Dalia Negrete, Anaid Solis and Martha Dominguez. Not pictured is Damaris Legarda.(NMSU Photo by Ann-Marie Wilson)

Modern Day Princess is an eight-week program created by Doreen Hanna, founder of Treasured Celebrations, for middle-school girls to help them improve their self-worth.

"One of the principals in the Los Lunas School District asked if we would conduct this program for a group of girls to help them build a better self-worth so they could make more positive choices in their everyday life," said Wilson.

Each week the girls explored their inner personality, discovered their families' heritage, learned the worth of respecting others and obeying appropriate life and legal rules, and defined the qualities of good relationships with friends, peers and men. They defined the qualities of finding and becoming a true friend and how to make choices based on personal convictions, not just feelings.

"Part of the program focused on the girls building a better relationship with their mothers. The curriculum involved an exchange of cards between each girl and her mother in which they shared their positive feelings about one another," Wilson said. "These exchanges were very powerful, because in our busy lives, it's not common that people take time to write down feelings about each other. The girls learned how proud their mothers were of them."

During the class on looking and acting like a princess, the girls visited Valencia High School, where cosmetology students treated them to a day at the spa.

"The high school students did the girls' hair and nails and gave them ideas about ways to enhance their natural beauty," Wilson said. "The visit also gave the girls an opportunity to visit the high school they will be attending, and to see a vocational program they can participate in."

To celebrate completing the program, each girl received a crown and certificate of completion. Wilson said she knew the program was a success when the principal said she saw a noticeable change in the girls' attitudes and behaviors, which the principal attributed to both the program and the girls' maturing during the classes.