On Oct. 10, we celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child (which officially took place on Oct. 11) with an all-school collaboration. This is the second year we have observed this international holiday, one that seems designed perfectly for Holton-Arms. Each year, the U.N. chooses a theme for day, and this's was "Unscripted and Unstoppable." We asked the girls to think about that theme in the context of themselves (self), their community, and the world, a way to think about the levels on which girls' Holton education works. We divided students into groups with representation from all three divisions, each with a volunteer student leader drawn from the ranks of students who took part in this summer's Upper School Leadership Summit. We gave the students a lot of choice in how they could represent the theme.
First, working in multi-divisional pairs, the girls brainstormed how they see "unscripted and unstoppable" manifest in the three realms. The overarching themes were standing up for oneself and for others. This included advocating for oneself and for issues our students care about, as well as for their beliefs, even when they might be in the minority. They see themselves as helping each other and helping those in need. This might mean helping a classmate who doesn't understand something; it might mean volunteering or making soup for a soup kitchen; it might mean raising money for a charity addressing needs that are local or farther afield, such as hurricane relief; it might mean spending Thanksgiving building houses in Mexico. Our students also believe in empowering those around them. They are activists who participate in marches and walkouts. They give their time to animal shelters and many of them make environmental issues a priority. Sports provide opportunities for "unstoppable-ness" as individuals or teams. Other school experiences showed up as examples: fourth graders mentioned their petitioning me for an unplugged day, when the school could save energy by using as little electricity as possible. Many groups highlighted the various off-campus opportunities: the Maine trip, Belize, a language immersion, or a Junior Journey, as well as the Level Up Village collaboration, which allows fourth graders to work together with students in other parts of the world to solve a problem. Learning a language and actually using it to communicate can feel unscripted in a global way. Our students practice grit; try their best; they persevere through challenges, never giving up; they find a way or make one.
Then, based on their brainstorming, they created some takeaways in three categories. In the visual arts, they could make a T-shirt design, a bumper sticker, a flag or a poster; for social media, choices included a tweet, an Instagram post, or a hashtag; and for performing arts, they could create a skit, song, dance, or tableau. As you might imagine, we received a number of creative responses.
I look forward to driving down River Road behind a car with a bumper sticker saying:
Be a Holton-Arms girl
Or "Have your say/ Make your way" with the Holton "H" in the middle. Or the sticker might simply offer the motto (I will find a way or make one) with the "H." While driving, you could be wearing a T-shirt with a picture of the world encircled by stick figures holding hands on the front and the statement:
Or perhaps you chose another shirt that proclaims: "We are each other's ROCKET FUEL" and has the words "unstoppable," "determined," "work hard," "supportive," "diverse," and "unscripted" sprinkled in different colors underneath. Maybe you prefer one with the Holton "H" above the motto and the statement "I am determined, powerful, and not afraid to be me." Another option could be a white T-shirt emblazoned with a rainbow diagonally across both the front and the back, the front urging, "Express what you believe in..." and the back featuring the exhortation, "and fight for it." Alternately, you could select one with a plain front except for:
as the logo, and on the back:
Think like a girl
Play like a girl
Work like a girl
Personally, I would be wearing my favorite design:
When you look carefully, you realize that these groups of words describing girls create a panther paw. Love it!
Of course, you should not be checking social media while you're driving. However, once you get to your destination, you could check out this Instagram post, which you will note that I and 2020 (the senior class' graduation year) liked:
Or you could search for any of the following hashtags:
Or these, inspired by this powerful video by Nike about female athletes—and women in general—that the Upper School watched in the morning:
Those might lead you to tweets like:
I am a GIRL... ALL of the rules about what girls can and can't do are unnecessary...you can't define ME because I am ME and I CONTROL mySELF!
I stand up for myself today and the world tomorrow
Holton girls never back down from challenges, whether in the classroom or the world beyond Holton.
Girls are unscripted. We are unscripted because we do it our own way and we do not give ourselves limits or let others give us limits.
Like a girl...not weak, emotional, or petite, but...strong-willed, determined, and independent. We are leaders, peace-makers, and innovators.
Perhaps a little YouTube viewing, Holton style, would be next on your social media agenda. If you'd like to be inspired you might check out this "public service announcement." And if you're in the mood to feel empowered, watch this music video. As an aside, I find it amazing what the girls can produce in 30 minutes.
You can tell from these examples that the girls took this assignment to heart and expressed in countless ways how much they believe in female empowerment and the ways in which Holton promotes that empowerment. To that end, I thought you would enjoy seeing a word cloud for the two-dimensional work they did:
Isn't that what we want for our girls? To be strong, independent, determined young women. To be leaders who persevere in the face of challenge, who are brave, fearless, and powerful AND kind, as well as the many other attributes encapsulated in the word cloud. They are "unscripted and unstoppable" in all the best ways.