The Abilene Philharmonic will honor 11 Abilene seniors, including nine Wylie girls, at its annual Gold Medallion Ball on March 3.
The students are being honored for participating in the Abilene Philharmonic Guild’s Belles and Beaus program which allows students to learn volunteerism.
“It broadens our minds,” said Wylie senior Victoria Lipps. “We are young, and we don’t really know what’s out there. It’s good to learn to be a part of the community.”
Students generally join the program in the 8th-grade and must agree to commit through their senior year. However, Victoria and her twin sister Mya moved to Abilene during their sophomore year, and they were invited to join the program late.
“Our neighbor thought we would be a really good fit,” Mya said. “There are a lot of mannerisms you learn. You learn how to talk to people. It really helps with that.”
Belles and Beaus volunteer at Philharmonic Concerts, as well as other Philharmonic events. They take tickets, hand out programs and help people find their seats. And they generally converse with patrons attending the concerts.
“We are kind of the face of the Philharmonic,” Mya said. “There’s a lot of people that you meet. It’s really a neat thing to be a part.”
Shruti Patel, another Wylie participant, said she realized how rewarding volunteering can be when she saw how important the interaction was to the people coming to the concerts.
“Every time I go, I am really shocked at how big an impact our presence has on the patrons,” she said. “It’s an honor to be a part of it.”
“A lot of them are older and don’t get out much so to be able to talk to them is really meaningful for them,” she said.
The program gives Wylie students an opportunity to interact with students from other schools, as the volunteers can come from schools throughout the area. Mya said a lot of the students who participate in Belles and Beaus share a love for music or dancing.
“It’s nice to have that in common,” Mya said. “And we just like going there and dressing up.”
The students earn points for service, and at the end of their senior year, the Belles or Beaus with the top points earn scholarships. The scholarships are announced at the Cherry Blossom Tea and the Gold Medallion Ball, which is the highlight of the year for the Belles and Beaus.
The tea a less formal affair for women only, and the Ball is a black-tie evening of dining and dancing to raise funds for the Philharmonic Guild. The Belles are honored at both events.
“They showcase our hard work and what we’ve accomplished,” Shruti said. “For the tea, our mom will actually walk us in. At the ball, our dad walks us in, and we dance with him. It’s just a fun time.”
Tickets to the Gold Medallion Ball are on sale now and are available through the Philharmonic’s website (abilenephilharmonic.org) or by calling the office at 677-6710. This year’s ball will be a Retreat to Shangri-La. Proceeds from the dinner and tea help Guild programs that benefit the Abilene Philharmonic.
The Philharmonic Guild also is recruiting new participants for the Belles and Beaus program. Anyone who has a student in the 7th-grade who would like to become a Belle or Beau in the future can contact the Philharmonic Office at 677-6710.
Shruti said she would certainly recommend the program.
“There is a time commitment,” Shruti said. “But it has impacted our lives. It’s a blast. The opportunity is there. You should grab it.”