Once a month, 30 Indian Trail Elementary School second-grade girls dress in their best attire and don pearl necklaces to distinguish themselves as the future leaders of Canal Winchester Local Schools and the community.
The Girls in Pearls were nominated by teachers and staff members for the leadership potential they display.
The Girls in Pearls group was established this year because of the success of a Guys in Ties program for boys launched at the school last year.
On designated Girls in Pearls days, the girls meet at the end of the school day for half an hour with volunteer female mentors, have a lesson and discuss topics from the book, "50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know."
School counselor Stavroula Soulas said the book serves as a basis for the students to learn about "character traits such as respect, responsibility and dignity."
"We wanted to teach them some basic skills that we thought every young lady should know to be a leader in our schools and community," Soulas said.
"We wanted to teach our young ladies how to talk to adults, appropriate ways to say, 'I am sorry,' the appropriate way to act when you are in class, the proper way to talk to a community member, make and accept apologies, the importance of 'please' and 'thank you,' the proper way to express sympathy, how to win and lose graciously, the proper way to talk on the phone and write messages -- things like that," Soulas said.
Kaylenn Faulker, 7, and Natalie Adams, 7, enjoy the program.
"It's fun to go to," Kaylenn said. "I get to wear a nice outfit and you have to wear your pearls with it."
Kaylenn and Natalie said they have learned the importance of "respecting yourself, respecting property and respecting others."
"I learned how to listen and what I shouldn't be doing," Natalie said.
She said all of the lessons being taught are important because leaders need "to make good choices and to follow the rules."
The Girls in Pearls are mentored by Soulas; Indian Trail Assistant Principal Lea Cobb; school instructional coach Alyssa Locker; Kathy Baird, a retired Pickerington school counselor; Lachandra Baker, a motivational speaker; and three Canal Winchester High School seniors -- Emily Sotlar, Audrey Jenkins and Mikayla Williams.
Sotlar said she enjoys working with the younger students to help them learn "how to speak, act and behave like a young lady" and how to "respect themselves and their teachers."
"As a little girl, I wish I had the opportunity to join a club like this that had me learn from my mentors and some high school girls," she said. "Girls in Pearls will help make a difference in our young ladies to prepare them for all situations in their lives."
Soulas said she hopes the program will help the students to "grow academically and become responsible members of our community.
"Hopefully, we are looking for them to become a more diverse leader in society and our community and learn what to do, what to say and how to behave properly," Soulas said.
"In the future, our goal for these kids is not only to participate in these lessons, but to help out in the building when we need extra support or responsibilities given, so they are looked upon as leaders by their peers."