by Erin Fitzpatrick and Sarah Hearon
The sixth annual Girl Thing will offer underclassman girls a chance to explore issues faced by teenage girls. Each day during the week of April 8–12 will feature a different activity. The events are run by senior girls, including Co-Coordinators Sofie Fetter and Kristi Troutman, and Health Teacher Ms. Susan Kolesar.
This year, the activities will include reading letters from seniors, a hookup culture discussion, two LGBTQ speakers, a presentation about eating disorders and a story about two girls’ experience with sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
Said Fetter: “I remember…going to the Girl Thing and being so surprised by the experiences some girls in our high school have been through. Freshman year is definitely a time of transition and the Girl Thing lets young girls hear real stories from real girls at our very own high school.”
According to Troutman, a continuing tradition is the letter reading. Seniors had the opportunity to hand in anonymous letters depicting their high school experiences which are then shared with the underclassmen. In the past, these letters have included stories about relationship abuse, abortion, drugs, alcohol and success stories, said Fetter.
Kolesar said: “I hope [the underclassmen] learn lessons from the letters…. I always say, ‘It’s better to learn from the mistakes of others than making those mistakes yourself.’ Second, I hope writing these letters is therapeutic and empowering for those who share. Knowing that something good can come out of their pain … might help them heal.”
Said Troutman: “The main thing that I would want freshmen to take away from the Girl Thing is that they will be faced with new people, new pressures, and new situations … [and] when they do face them they can know that they’re not alone.”
Senior Lauren Anzevino, who is helping facilitate the Girl Thing, said: “As an underclassmen listening to the stories, you don't really take them as seriously because you don't think those situations could happen to you or your friends, but as a senior I now know they can ...I have a younger sister and she looks up to me and has learned from my experiences, so if someone else can learn from the girls’ mistakes, it can make a huge difference.”
This year, Kolesar attempted to extend the event to boys, returning to “the Girl and Guy Thing” format, according to Troutman. Said Kolesar: “Our society teaches boys not to talk about such issues. I think it is important to challenge that stereotype.”
Unfortunately, not enough boys participated in the planning of the Guy Thing for it to happen, according to Fetter.
However, the second week in April will still bring the annual Girl Thing for WHS girls.
Said English Teacher Ms. Jill Veltri: “As an alumna of WHS, I see the necessity of a program where young students from different grades come together to achieve a common goal. There tends to be an animosity towards women in other social groups, not just in high school but in our society, and the week is about changing these ingrained ideologies.”