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The Crowd: 57th Debutante Ball celebrates young women’s formal introduction to society

The Crowd: 57th Debutante Ball celebrates young women’s formal introduction to society
The 57th Debutante Ball produced by the Newport Chapter of National Charity League supported 34 young women taking their bow. (Photo by Gillmore Studios)

The 57th Debutante Ball produced by the Newport Chapter of National Charity League welcomed 500 guests coming together to support 34 young women taking their bow and transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.

The glittering event — a cherished rite of passage in the Newport Mesa community — unfolded at Hotel Irvine over the holidays.

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The theme of the evening, “Looking Beyond the White Gown,” emphasized the generational purpose of the mother-daughter philanthropic bond pursued by National Charity League.

Simply put, the formality and the elegance of the ball, while honored tradition, represents a graduation for the young women who have collectively volunteered more than 12,000 hours of community service to many organizations in the Orange County community.

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A significant element of the Debutante Ball pays tribute to the accomplishments of the graduates.

All the young ladies share impressive resumes.

Among the 2017 class, there are Advanced Placement Scholars, honor roll students and valedictorians.

In addition, many of the debutantes have served as school government leaders, athletic team captains and campus ministry leaders.

The majority of the young ladies are also varsity high school athletes boasting participation in such activities as soccer, volleyball, tennis, sailing, water polo, swimming, crew, track and field, lacrosse, field hockey and more.

Most of them are graduating high school with more than a 4.0 GPA and are now in their first semester in colleges and universities across America.

The black-tie crowd converged at Hotel Irvine to be welcomed by a committee that included Ball Director Michele Rankin and Assistant Director Becky Scanlan.

Portia Fischer (past), Malia Grippo (current) and Jennifer Lefebvres (past).
Portia Fischer (past), Malia Grippo (current) and Jennifer Lefebvres (past). (Courtesy of Gillmore Studios)

A hard-working committee supported the chairs in producing an evening to remember.

They included Sara Benson, Gina Donald, Reesa Emadi, Annette Gonzalez, Erin Greenwald, Suzanne Kaiser, Catherine Kennett, Jennifer Middlemas, Maryam Mirhashemi, Teri Pitchess, Darcy Post, Suzanna Richter and Cami Young.

President of the NCL Newport Chapter, Malia Grippo, was especially honored to attend this year's ball along with her husband, Ralph Grippo.

“This was such a special evening to celebrate the accomplishments, amazing memories, and friendships that they have established over the past six years,” Malia Grippo said. “What an amazing tribute to these young women, as their recognition goes beyond the white gown to the many hours of philanthropic service and leadership involvement they have been a part of. I am so proud of these young women, as I feel they identify with their ability and need to serve others."

Nikki Wood, Michele Rankin, Kelly Stewart, Kimberly Prado and Jennifer Lefebvres.
Nikki Wood, Michele Rankin, Kelly Stewart, Kimberly Prado and Jennifer Lefebvres. (Courtesy of Gillmore Studios)

The formal presentation of the debutantes was the emotional highlight of the evening.

Each young woman was introduced and presented, escorted by either their fathers or sponsors followed by the traditional St. James bow to the audience.

The Jay Sterling Society Orchestra began to play a traditional waltz welcoming the debutantes, some with their escorts, others with their fathers, onto the dance floor.

Following the presentation, an elegant multi-course dinner was served as families shared memories and visited with close friends.

They danced the night into the “Cinderella” hour making memories to last a lifetime.

The 2017 Newport Chapter of National Charity League Debutantes are Hannah Adams, Rebecca Bailey, Hillary Beall, Natalie Beasley, Baylor Boring, London Davis, Katharine Grace Delaney, Madelyn Deverian, Jena Dole, Claudia Eusey, Sarah Farley, Grace Fischer, Kayden Fogarty, Madeline Frank, Gabriela Goffman, Callie Govaars, Katherine Hampton, Allison Hanscom, Ashlyn Johnson, Sarah Lawson, Katherine McAllister, Katherine Mulvaney, Kennedy Mulvaney, Trudy Padden, Mary Porteous, Caroline Prado, Aidan Purdy, Kate Ramm, Katherine Robinson, Savannah Stewart, Charlie Toffel, Jennifer Wetton, Megan Winsor and Caroline Wood.

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