Her name is Natalie Nunez. She is a 4th grader and she is a wrestler. She is not big but she is brave. The match begins and she crouches low, looking for an opening. She watches the boy she is matched against closely so that he does not get a hold of her and take her down. The expression on her face says, “I can do this. I am strong.” When she is in danger of being pinned, she fights her hardest to survive. When she has the advantage, she uses all of her skills to try to win the match. Win or lose, one thing is for sure: she is not giving in nor giving up. This is a Beechwood girl. She stands up for herself and is proud of who she is.
Natalie is not alone here at Beechwood. Confident, brave, hard-working girls are the rule rather than the exception. Whether in the classroom, on the athletic field or on the stage it is encouraging to see that our young women understand that their gender should never hold them back from pursuing opportunity and setting high goals for themselves.
Where does the confidence and self-belief come from? I believe, a big part of it is the female role models that the girls watch on a daily basis. They see their teachers exhibiting dignity and self-respect. They see their mothers balancing work and family. They see their older sisters finishing high school and heading off to college. So many positive examples of what it means to be a great woman surround our girls and serve to instruct them.
Men have a big role in helping our girls to grow up to be strong women. We have to encourage them to stand up for what they believe in, to speak out and to keep pushing when obstacles get in their way. As a father of two girls, I can tell you that it isn’t always easy to have Emily and Charlotte challenge my authority but, as my wife often reminds me, it’s better than the alternative: quietly going along with something that you don’t believe in. As men, it is also important that we not contribute to the objectification of women but rather send the message that we value the opposite sex for their hearts, souls and minds.
These positive role models are especially important because women are not always portrayed in the best way on TV and in the movies. Physical attributes often are over emphasized and it is easy for a young girl to get the impression that their appearance is more important than who they are on the inside. It is essential that adults stress to our girls not to buy into the media’s portrayals of females as mean, materialistic and unintelligent.
Her name is Adriana Contreras. She is an 8th grader and she is an actress. Her part in the musical calls for her to talk in a witch’s voice. She puts in the time and effort necessary to perfect the voice and memorize all the lines. Now it is show time and she must not only speak in the voice but sing a long solo in the voice as well. The theater is full, everyone is watching. Her performance is amazing. The audience is captivated. This is a Beechwood girl. She is not afraid. She is a success.
– Mr. Laurance