Historical, Social Achievements and Contributions Honored
The historical achievements and contributions of women to society were celebrated at the recent high school Women’s History assembly, marking the first time Oaks Christian School has participated in the global Women’s History Month (WHM).
WHS is an annual declared month (initiated by President Jimmy Carter) which highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated in March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, corresponding with International Women's Day on March 8.
This year’s observation marked 100 years since the submission for ratification of the 19th constitutional amendment which gave American women the right to vote. It was officially ratified in 1920.
“Throughout American history, the feminist movement has had varying degrees of approaches and responses. Many of the founding activists were mothers and wives who were devout Christians. Feminism today is seen as very liberal due to the lingering effects of activism from the 1960s, and there is a stereotype that if you support women's equality or celebrate National Women's History month, you are essentially a man-hater,” said Connie Choi, OCS high school history teacher.
“I think it’s important for Oaks Christian to understand the full historical narrative of women's history and the Christian perspective of this development. It's inclusive and to be celebrated by both men and women because we all play a role in shaping society. Men and women are created equal by God,” she added.
Choi was part of the planning committee which was spearheaded by High School Dean of Students Marcus Choi and included High School Activities Director Noelle Baddeley Kaiser, High School Dean of Students Jennifer McCurtis, and High School Academic Dean Amy Harriton.
The special assembly in late March was the culmination of a month of acknowledgements of women’s contributions through visual and performing arts, graphic design, literary classroom readings, and personal stories.
The month began with beautiful, vivid graphics of pivotal women such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Martha Graham, Sally Rider, Amelia Earhart, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, and others. Special thanks goes to OCS alumna Caylen Smith, Class of 2013, and temporary assistant in the student life office, for creating the graphics for the hallway monitors.
Art student Sofia Vlahos also embodied role models for girls and women by capturing the icon styles of women in detailed hand drawings of First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Coco Channel, Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana, Ivanka Trump, First Lady Nancy Reagan and Diana Ross, and Misty Copeland.
At the assembly, four women were featured.
The second American First Lady Abigail Adams, who penned the famous letter to” remember the ladies” when fighting for our nation’s independence from England; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women’s rights activist; Sojourner Truth, freed slave and women’s right activists, and former United States First Lady Michelle Obama.
“These were just four of the many influential women of history. But we also wanted to highlight significant female role models that have shaped a staff and a student,” said Marcus Choi.
Toward that end, McCurtis shared about her grandmother, Rachel, who was the first black college student in Texas and the inspiration she was for her family.
“It was not normal for black women to go to college. She was the first to break the color barrier at her two-year college in Texas. She loved the arts, theatre and music and she got to be a part of that program,” she said.
OCS senior Ciara Tetreault shared about her grandmother who adopted her and raised her to have the opportunities her birth mother couldn’t provide. One of the highlights of the assembly was when her grandmother hugged her and said to the audience, “Thank you for acknowledging me for raising Ciara.”
High School Principal and retired United States Navy Commander Karen Coyle talked about the difficulties of being a female in a male-dominated profession.
“It was tough. They wondered what I was doing and what I was trying to prove. It wasn’t easy entering a realm where you are vastly outnumbered and are the minority, but it feels so good when you succeed,” she said. She further encouraged, “Don’t think that you can walk in there and they owe it to you because you are a woman. That won’t work. I earned trust and they eventually became my friends.”
Coyle extrapolated that anyone—young, old, black, white, tall, short—should not let others limit their dreams because of their differences.
“God has blessed you with certain gifts and talents and don’t let anyone say you can’t. Because if you know this is where God is leading you, then do it with all you got.”
Some of the student comments shared were:
“It was empowering”
“It was really done well, and we enjoyed seeing our peers and the staff presenting.”
“It was enlightening because we forget what these women did in history.”
“Interested in participating in it next year.”
Graphics by Caylen Smith, OCS Class of 2013