The 8th Grade Girls Group, led by co-founders Middle School Director of Student Life Kate Cassidy and Middle School English teacher Sara Goodwin, is up and running. The group was created to provide a safe space for gender-specific conversation and confidence building for 8th grade girls. Perhaps it was described best by eighth grader Nina S., who said, “I love having a space where we all can say what’s on our minds. It doesn’t feel awkward or forced, and it’s nice to know that you’re not alone. Being an 8th grade girl can get tough, and it’s really awesome to have a place that helps you feel supported and heard. Girls Group is great, and I’m so thankful we are given the opportunity to connect with other people who can relate to our experiences.”
The group, which at the latest meeting included more than 30 participants, meets once per rotation during Flex in the afternoon. A recent gathering began with Crumbl Cookies and ended with some great answers to the following prompts: things we wish our teachers/coaches would know about us, things we want boys to know, and finally, ways to support each other. Students were divided around the room, and each group was asked to free-think their personal answers (no judging!) and then share out and discuss with the group. Examples of talking points included why boys should be respectful of personal boundaries and the difference between bragging vs. taking credit for a job well-done. Emma P. characterized the meeting as follows: “I enjoy the brutal honesty between us girls. I’m glad there’s a safe space where we can just be blunt and relate to each other. It's not uncomfortable talking about the reality of things at school and just ranting with this group. It makes us all be in tune with each other, and it's really encouraging to know that other people understand how you feel and care. Also, who doesn't enjoy the cookies, which are a major bonus.”
Cece F. went on to describe the meetings in the following way: “Girls club has been cool because I got a chance to hangout and connect with girls I normally would not have. It is really easy to relate with all of them in my grade and just talk about our experiences as a girl.” And Sophia L. agreed when she wrote, “The girl's group has been a beyond outstanding opportunity. I feel as though we have formed a special bond with each other. I enjoy talking about things that would not be talked about otherwise. It, in a way, made all of us girls closer due to all of us being able to relate to the things we talked about. I think that is an extraordinary thing to carry, especially considering the boy-to-girl ratio in our grade, in which the boys outnumber the girls. And, talking about that openly is very comforting. I am happy to have a place to share my opinions about being a young woman with people who understand and relate. I’m overall ecstatic that I have gotten to be a part of this group, and I hope it continues with future 8th-grade girls.”
The opinions the girls have could probably fill many meetings, and thankfully there is more time this year to do just that.