Don’t judge a book – or an all-girl’s school – by it’s cover.

This school has so many traditions. Seriously, every time I turn around, there’s another event that’s been going on for years and years. And even though I kind of make fun of it at times, I actually like it. There is a sense of community here (and at the college) that I have never experienced before. While I would not have wanted to attend an all girls high school or college – I loved me some Appalachian State – I can definitely see the appeal. After spending the past eight months here at the high school, I see why it draws girls in. There are so many fun things to be a part of – especially as a senior. Girls wait four years to experience the Ring Banquet, Smush Cake, senior priveleges (like no study hall and having a car), Senior Vespers, and much more. Yes, there are things about the school that aren’t perfect: I’m not a fan of girls being away from their parents at such a young age and I’m a believer in co-education. But I bet every girl here would say they prefer an all-girls learning environment to one with boys. Go figure.

This weekend is another example of the traditions that leave me shaking my head and feeling like I’ve stepped onto the set of Mona Lisa Smile. It’s reunion weekend and alumnae from many years past are here to celebrate. It’s really like one big party. I like that the classes of 1950 and 1975 and 2009 get together for pictures and dinners and just good ol’ fashioned girl time. Girls and women really want to come back to visit. Every time I go back to MAHS, I groan and think about how glad I was to leave. Not the case here. Of course, you always have your girls that can’t wait to peace out and will probably never participate in any of this. But I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll want to come back at some point and they’ll speak of their time here fondly.

The kick-off to reunion weekend was Founder’s Day on Friday afternoon.

It was a beautiful afternoon as we watched the seniors from the academy and college march in, along with the faculty. The guest speaker was great (and brief, thank goodness) and I listened with a smile on my face as the voices of the glee club wafted up through the amphitheater. It was fun listening to everyone join in for the alma mater (which everyone knew but me) and it made me laugh that some of the girls made up a rap with hand motions to the song to help them remember the words.

This place seems so foreign to me at times and I am constantly humbled by it. It’s so easy to look at something like this and judge it, but like everything in life, you really have to get to know it from the inside to appreciate it. I am so glad I have the chance to discover what’s inside this place. It really has opened my eyes to a whole other world and I will be forever changed because of my time here. If I have a daughter someday and she wants to go to a small all-girls high school or college, I just might consider it. At least a little more than I would have before. With community and nurturing like this, what could be so horrible? I liked having guys around (I mean, kind of, at times) and cheering and socializing at football games. But at the end of the day, the women that leave the academy and college don’t miss that because they have something that is hard to find at a public school – sisters for life.

They say not to judge a book by it’s cover. After years of putting many things back on the shelf because of how they looked on the outside, I’m finally learning to open up and discover what’s inside. And who knew, but I’m finding things I didn’t even know I was looking for. What a tremendous gift and an exciting adventure.

“Oh who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried.” (Lord Byron)

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