November 7, 2014
Cypress Springs High School students and staff celebrate Girl Empowerment Week at the school by wearing scarves on Tuesday. Pictured, from L-R, are sophomore Casandra Gonzalez, teacher Charlene Johnson, freshman Elisheida Chanona and assistant principal Sandra Cahee. (Photo by Quidijah Maldonado, Cypress Springs HS)
By Daniel Pasket, Cypress Springs HS
Nov. 7, 2014—Female students at Cypress Springs High School celebrated womanhood, good values and success during the second annual Girl Empowerment Week, held Nov. 3-7.
Organized by a coalition of three Cypress Springs organizations—Girl’s Choice, Girls RULE (Respect, Understand and Love Each other) and Girl to Girl—the event reached out to thousands of young women at the school by promoting leadership, sisterhood and careers while showcasing speakers addressing all facets of womanhood.
Each day of the week had a theme and key event:
“It’s been really successful. Over 150 girls came to Zumba earlier in the week,” said Colette Vallot, Cypress Springs assistant principal.
McNeil, who works with many young females in high school and college, said she wished a resource like Girl Empowerment Week had been available to her in high school.
“There were very few organizations on campus where we could celebrate among ourselves,” she said. “I wish I did have something like this. Sometimes our young women aren’t given enough support, and they respond with conflict among one another. I am so excited to be a part of this and show them that they don’t have to compete against each other; instead they can bond through relationships and make a better situation for all.”
The “Fight Like a Girl” Summit was sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), who presented a $100 prize to sophomore student Reanna Waddell for creating the winning t-shirt design for the conference. The keynote speaker was motivational speaker Joie Raspberry. Breakout sessions were led by Tyisha Jenkins and Teneisha Green; Dr. Cynthia Berkins, Dr. Gay Morris, Laura Lyon, Ruqayya Gibson, Leonora Glasper and Dr. Linda Macias.
“It allows girls to feel like they are leaders and they are contributing,” said Assistant Principal Sandra Cahee, who launched the Girls RULE club four years ago. “It promotes sisterhood, leadership and solidarity. After this week, the girls at our school feel more like leaders and make better choices. Their self-esteem is way up and they understand the importance of being a woman and making good decisions.”
Students who participated in the week said they benefited from the program’s main goal of giving them assistance and making them realize that they are not alone.
“Being a girl, it can be difficult, because girls can be put down by certain comments, and we want to show them that they have someone to be there for them,” said Girls RULE President Morgan Johnson.
“This whole week was dedicated to us and gave us something to look forward to every day,” said sophomore and Girls RULE member Princess Hines. “I hope that the result is everyone focusing more on their careers so we can all be successful women.”
Rachel McNeil, University of Houston-Clear Lake project coordinator in the Title III grant office, speaks to Cypress Springs sophomore women about “sisterhood” on Nov. 4.
Cypress Springs students wear pink at the all-girl pep rally on Nov. 7 celebrating Girl Empowerment Week. (Photo by Margot Oyuela)