College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

Black Alumnae Union Introduction

Find a way or make one. That is the Holton way. It is a principle that guides Holton students to excel academically while balancing their extracurricular activities, their social lives, and family responsibilities. It puts into words a sense of determination, commitment, and pride in hard work, and in defying the odds to create opportunity where it may not exist.

In the voices of Holton’s Black students, this powerful mantra takes an urgent tone. These students – determined to find their place or create it, to be seen and understood, to be safe and secure in their skin – understand from an early age that the mantle of opportunity is a rare privilege accompanied by the expectation of extraordinary effort and excellence. It is a privilege shared and intended to benefit not just the individual student, but their families and communities. Armed with their Holton experience, they are tasked with making a way for those who come after them. That is the debt they pay to those whose authentic presence and determination made a way for them. That is the legacy of Holton’s Black community and the spirit in which the Holton-Arms School Black Alumnae Union was born.

Since our inaugural breakfast meeting in 2018 we have hosted a reunion event in 2019 bringing together Black alumnae from the last forty+ years; welcomed new Black students and families at our kickoff Back to School Barbeque in 2019; and supported current members of the Black Student Union through biweekly breakfasts, a Black art history field trip, and other informal mentoring. This has been an amazing journey, as we reacquaint ourselves with the Holton community, remembering all that we love about the school. We realized that the value of the Holton experience, for us, lies in the heritage created by Black women. Over the span of nearly half-a-century, they participated and stood up (and out) in the world in remarkable, often groundbreaking, and always revolutionary ways. We have learned that there are shared experiences and perspectives among us, but also very different and unique experiences and perspectives. Most importantly, we share an understanding based on experience that the assumptions made about Black women can lead to serious misunderstanding. At worst, these assumptions – when accepted as fact and carelessly wielded – cause traumatic results. 

During the summer of 2020, we were reminded of these traumatic results by the accounts shared by Holton alumnae, through various media, in the wake of renewed calls for our country to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter. The stories were about Holton students’ painful lessons about what it means to be born Black and a girl and finding your way. These accounts renewed our commitment to growing Holton’s Black community in size and energy and we come together now to formally take our place in the school as a body of passionate, dedicated alumnae that have been on the ground since 2018. Our deep desire is to re-connect alumnae with Holton and with one another as a means of sharing and extending the legacy of Black excellence at Holton with the entire community and the world.

We see Holton’s Black community as its Black students, their families, Black alumnae, and also Holton's Black faculty and staff. We see opportunities to expand alumnae engagement in the Holton community across these important collectives. Our strategy is premised on an impact driven culture shift, in the direction of inclusion, community, and pride in the Holton legacy with regards to the Black students and their families, administration, and alumnae. Thus, Black Alumnae Union programming solutions are organized around the service of 3 key constituencies: Students, Parents, Alumnae.

We have begun incredible work in close partnership with the Head of School, the Office of Alumnae Relations, and with the Office of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education. It is our dream to continue along this path to create new traditions celebrating the uniqueness and special shared experience of being a Black Holton student and graduate.

Future programming will include an event engaging our community each season (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer). These events will focus on welcoming new students and families; creating a mentorship program that incorporates mentorship and networking for current students and for Black alumnae; organizing information and resources around college preparation for Black students; Black History Month; and other enrichment activities for students, families, and alumnae. 

We are excited about the future and invite all Black alumnae to participate. We implore you. Our community is small but mighty and growing, and we need you! We communicate about upcoming events through this page and through email. Please sign up to receive email updates and reach out to Kiki or Bethany to introduce yourself! 

Love,

Lakia “Kiki” Somerville '92 and Bethany Young '05
Black Alumnae Union Co-Chairs