The students at Just for Girls can often be considered dark horses, according to graduation keynote speaker Stefanie Overturf.
She herself identified as a dark horse, someone who at one point was so far behind in “the race” she could have easily been discounted and forgotten about.
Overturf, a Palmetto native, was abandoned by her parents in her early teens and struggled with that through her young adult life. She’s now a member of the Just for Girls Corporate Board of Directors and owns Overturf’s Floor and Fabric Care with her husband.
Knowing the graduates probably had struggles similar to Overturf’s, she imparted some important advice during the graduation ceremony, where 16 students in the Jane B. Pratt Alternative Education Center on Wednesday celebrated finishing eighth grade and moving onto high school.
“Don’t let anyone ruffle your feathers,” Overturf said, adding sometimes she actually rubs her arms, smoothing her own “feathers,” after particularly tough conversations with customers.
Overturf said the girls needs to refocus negative thoughts into positive ones, and should make sure they give themselves positive self-love.
“Say out loud, ‘I like myself. I’m the best. I can do it,’” she said.
Just for Girls
Graduating class: 23rd.
Speakers: Stefanie Overturf, former after-school student at Just for Girls and owner of Overturf’s Floor and Fabric Care; and students Chenya McDuffie, Ashley Castaneda and Abby McCrum.
Shining moment: McCrum spoke about the obstacles she overcame at Just For Girls and received a standing ovation at the end of the ceremony.
Interesting fact: Students helped decorate the hall, creating blue-and-white balloon columns, using pickle jars as a base and a dowel to keep the balloons straight and tall.
Best quote: “To be a star, you must shine your own light,” Dee Ralph, Just For Girls director