Words and Stories about CSS

Mahogany S Testimonial
“This whole experience has affected me by making me want to do more with my life, make myself better, and succeed.”
Mahogany S., Age 12 – Sophisticated Sister Jr. Division
“When I was going through any issue, I would show up at the drill team and all my problems would go away for a little while.”
Shaquile G., Age 20 – Alumnus. Now a junior at Rutgers-New Brunswick studying criminal justice and social work
Shaquile Gurley Testimonial Pic
“Drill team is fun because we all march together as a family.”
Re'Quan, Age 8 – TAPS Member
“I like Drill Team because it teaches me discipline, dedication, and sophistication.”
Linda I., Age 11 – Sophisticated Sister Jr. Division
“Tawanda and her program keep my daughters off the street. She is a blessing. She shows them that when they graduate from high school they can be whatever they want to be.”
Lakesha L., Mother to two daughters in CSS, Ages 7 and 9
Taron G Testimonial Pic
“We’re in such a state of poverty and violence that it scares people from us when, honestly, we need the most help. The best way for me to describe Wawa is like, if this was Gotham City, she would be Batman.”
Taron G.
“When I think about CSS, I think about Community, Sisterhood and a Safe Place. I joined the team in middle school and can recall challenging times. My parents had divorced a few years earlier, leaving my mother working night shifts and my sister and I home alone many nights. Often times, I found myself left to my own devices with my sister had her own friends. Not to mention, I excelled in school and unfortunately that wasn’t deemed as “cool.” I can recall being called “white girl” because I had a large vocabulary and was beginning to not want to be smart. Drill team was my turning point. It became my refuge. Tawanda (Wa-Wa) accepted me for me. Unbeknownst to her, she boosted my self-esteem by encouraging my scholarship amongst the team, and made me feel good about excelling at school.

Not to mention, the leadership I acquired as co-captain and sergeant of arms. This was a lesson in effort yielding reward. Additionally, the team gave me sisterhood, something I so desperately yearned for. The drill team was my family. We walked each other home and we had each other’s back. That meant a lot when you didn’t have family in Camden. Lastly, it was my safe place. I could have been running the streets and getting into trouble, but instead was in front of Mrs. Wilda’s house practicing. Drill team kept us focused and out of trouble. It gave us something positive to do. It was not a privilege, and required effort, commitment and good grades. I didn’t know these values were slowly being instilled in me, but am grateful Wa-Wa, Mrs. Wilda, Bam and others gave of themselves for a kid from the most dangerous city in America, whom many think won’t do much in life. Thanks for the encouragement, hugs, loving words, food to eat, money and the list goes on and on. Most importantly, thanks for recognizing that roses can grow from the concrete!”

Shavonne S., CSS Alum
Shavonne Spencer Testimonial
“We were thrilled to have you as part of our Conference. Attendees were “wowed” and continued to comment throughout the afternoon about how talented, how much energy and commitment you brought, what a great selection for the Saturday program to inspire and reinforce the abilities of all youth. In addition to the dancers they were also impressed by the “music-men” . Additionally Rotarians commented on how polite, well-mannered and professionally the group conducted themselves. Emails continued to arrive even after the conference. I hope your tour of Seton Hall University was exciting and informative for you also.”
Louise F., Rotary International District 7470
Rotary International District 7470
Women in the World Logo
“Enormous thanks to you and all the Camden Sophisticated Sisters, the Distinguished Brothers and the Almighty Percussion Sound drumline for joining us at Women in the World. We can’t say thank you enough times, for bringing your kids, for bearing with us through changes, late nights and early mornings — for impressing us every minute with your and your kids discipline, sensibility and depth. Thank you for sharing your story and Destinee’s and being a friend. We appreciate all of it. I hope the kids—and you— had fun. They were truly phenomenal.”
Tina B., Live Media/Women in the World