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Victoria East basketball player one of five contestants for Miss Top Teen

By Gheni_Platenburg
Nov. 11, 2010 at 5:11 a.m.

Marquet Dean, a senior and basketball player at East High school in Victoria, waits for her turn during practice. Dean is one of the candidates for the title of Ms. Top Teen at the Blue & Silver Scholarship Ball.

IF YOU GO

: Victoria Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction's first annual Blue & Silver Scholarship and Presentation Ball, a debutante-style ball, during which teens will be crowned Mr. and Miss Top teen, while others will be formally presented to the Victoria community

: 7 p.m. Saturday

: Victoria Community Center Annex

: $30 and can be purchased by calling 225-247-8651 or e-mailing VictoriaTLOD@yahoo.com. Tickets will be available at the door as space allows

What is Top Teens?Top Teens of America is sponsored by the Top Ladies of Distinction, a service organization

The Top Teens program is geared toward providing teens with the opportunity to receive scholarships, extra-curricular support, career and character development training and community volunteer opportunities

A nationwide organization, TLOD began in 1964. It now has 103 chapters throughout the United States with more than 4,600 members

The Victoria Chapter was chartered in September 2009

Other contestants

Age: 17

Parents: Sean Hawkins and Lydia Hobbs.

School: Victoria East High School

Escort: Matthew Hill, University of Houston- Victoria student

Age: 14

Parents: Clay and Carrie King

School: Victoria East High School

Escort: Teen contestant Raymond Yancey

Age: 16

Parents: Rev. and Mrs. Terrence Hayes

School: Victoria East High School

Escort: Jefferey Hill, Victoria East student

Age: 15

Parents: Julius Sanders Whitby Jr. and Louisa Charles Cormier

School: Victoria East High School

Escort: Anton Franklin, Victoria East student

MR. TOP TEEN CANDIDATE

Age: 16

Parents: Jodi Yancey and Joey Sandoval

School: Victoria East High School

Escort: Teen contestant Tara King

Running up and down the Victoria East High School's basketball court during defensive drills on Tuesday was bittersweet for Marquet Dean.

For Marquet, 17, a senior, the practice marks the countdown to the end of her high school basketball career.

"I'm kind of nervous because it passed by pretty fast," said Marquet, who plays point and wing on the school's varsity team. "I have to go all out."

However, Marquet's plans to go all out do not end with her 2010 basketball season.

The busy teen has plans to go all out in all aspects of her life during her senior year, including vying for the position of Miss Top Teen of the Victoria Chapter of Top Teens of America.

"I really want it because it's my senior year," said Marquet, who is a charter member of the local club, which started in September 2009. "We do a lot of work and it's something that has become important to me."

Marquet is one of five girls in the running for the title of Miss Top Teen at The Victoria Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction's first ever Blue & Silver Scholarship and Presentation Ball fundraiser on Saturday.

"They are a dedicated group of kids," said Natasha Goode, president of the Victoria Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction. "Some come to us like a diamond in the rough and some are still developing, but all have a willingness to learn."

She added, "This is just one stepping stone to make them more well-rounded."

Victoria East junior Raymond Yancey is the sole candidate for Mr. Top Teen.

Goode said all the contestants had to meet a set of minimum requirements including having been a member of Top Teens for at least one year, accumulated a minimum number of points by participating in club activities and have sold a minimum number of ads for the debutante-type ball's souvenir journal.

The winners, however, will be the boy and girl contestants who raised the most money from ad sales, the proceeds of which go toward scholarships.

The winners will represent the chapter at the area and national conferences.

"It's about polishing the students and teaching them skills that we can tell them, but it would be better to just show them," said Goode. "It teaches the kids discipline, how to approach people, how to ask people for things and how to present themselves."

Willete Dean, Marquet's mother, is proud her daughter is up for the title.

"I'm just excited. She's graduating and all that good stuff, and she's coming up for this," her mother said. " To find out the money goes back into a scholarship is a big plus for us."

Marquet has worked hard to position herself as a student leader both in school and in the community through her work with TTA.

In addition to attending career-building seminars and TTA conferences, during which she perfected her speech writing and public speaking skills, Marquet serves as TTA's financial secretary and has completed a plethora of volunteer activities including babysitting and helping at nursing homes.

"It's helped me a lot with my communication skills because I used to be really shy," said Marquet, who joined Top Teens at the suggestion of her grandmother. "It helped me to become more caring and to better understand other people."

"Marquet is a dynamic and rare find. She already knows what she wants to do in life. Her aspirations and goals really surprise me. She's very focused," said Miracle Reed, Marquet's TTA mentor. "Our teens benefit from her being a part of the organization."

Marquet is also active in church groups, the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and her high school's debate, basketball and track teams.

She is a straight-A student, was named most talented during her freshman and sophomore years and selected as MVP in basketball during her junior year.

"If I can give my best, then maybe someone else can do their best too," Marquet said about her motivation to get involved in so many activities.

Marquet plans to attend either Stephen F. Austin State University or Clark-Atlanta University to major in business.

Upon graduation, she wants to return to Victoria to help manage her grandmother's beauty salon and become a financial analyst.

"Life is coming pretty fast. I have to be ready for it because it's here," said Marquet. "If it is in (God's) will, then it will work out for me."

Even if she does not win the title on Saturday, Dean said she is just happy about the impact she and the other candidates have had on Victoria so far.

"I tried my best. I'll be happy for whoever wins. It's tough competition," said Marquet. "I'm just happy we've built up the foundation and made a name for ourselves."

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