For the young women of the Gulfport Montessori Elementary Girlfriends Club, Monday, Jan. 17 was a Martin Luther King Jr. Day to remember.
The club marched through downtown St. Petersburg in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Big Parade. It was the first time the Gulfport Montessori Elementary School all-girls club marched in the annual parade.
“Ever since I mentioned the parade they haven’t let it go,” said Robin Moore, a counselor at Gulfport Elementary. “The girls are really excited.”
Moore heads the group. She works alongside a team of female teachers and administrators who encourage the students to discuss leadership and female empowerment each week for nine weeks.
A spot in Gulfport Girlfriends is an exclusive one, Moore says.
Every nine weeks, each fourth- and fifth-grade homeroom teacher selects four female students to join the club. The girls win prizes, fill their composition notebooks with future plans, and work as a team.
“I hope I get to make more friends here, but it’s not only for fun,” said student Shayelynn Ellis. “It’s important that we’re here.”
The week before the parade, the subject of the day was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech.
The girls made signs for the parade and shared their dreams.
“What did the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech mean to you?” asked Moore.
A student raised her hand: “Someone cared when no one else did.”
11-year-old Jayla Magliore is one of the students who marched on Monday. It’s her second time in the Girlfriend’s Club.
“I like the activities we do … and I like that some of the things we do are about helping out the community,” Magliore told The Gabber.
Marissa Stewart-Dix, president of Gulfport Kiwanis Club is a Gulfport Montessori Elementary social worker involved with the club.
Gulfport Kiwanis paid the parade entry fee.
“I want the Kiwanis Club to be more involved with local schools,” Stewart-Dix said. “This is definitely one way.”