On a sunny Wednesday in November, 153 seventh grade middle school girls from Schenectady City Schools were bussed to the Glen Sanders for a special day, based on the theme "Change Begins with Me." Dr. Nichelle Rivers, school administrator from Hempstead, NY, gave the keynote address urging girls to focus on their education and helping them see that change can begin with them.
Each girl attended workshops promoting communication and goal setting skills and then went to arts expression sessions on dance, drumming, singing and storytelling. At the end of the program each group demonstrated to the others in a grand finale what they had been doing in their afternoon session. The feedback for the day was very positive with girls saying they "loved it....this was the Best Day ever!!!!!...I had A WONDERFUL TIME! Thanks so much :-) .... This day was awesome !!"
For the important follow-up Girls' Circles, the Working Group on Girls recruited community volunteers to be Muses. Ten Circles for seventh grade girls have started in the City Middle Schools, each led by a pair of Muses. Experienced Muses are leading six Circles for those eighth grade girls who participated last year and want to continue. Gwynne DeLong and Karen Draper wrote the curriculum for each of these programs. Each girl gets her own journal designed by Karen Draper to use in the Circles and then take home at the end as a reflection of herself, her values, her concerns, and her dreams.
This program is made possible thanks to the generous gift of time and talent given by our volunteers: Gwynne DeLong, Karen Draper, F. Julia Helfman, Anne Gray, Jeanne Hagerty, Miranda Rand, Helga Schroeter, Pauline Kinsella, Marion Porterfield, Maxine Brisport, Betsy Forkas, and others. Also, we are most grateful for the generous financial and in-kind gifts of our sponsors: The Carlilian Foundation, The Equinox-Albany Community Foundation Fund, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, Stewart's Shops, Soroptimist International of Schenectady, the League of Women Voters NYS Education Foundation, Alice Rubenfeld, the Schenectady Federation of Teachers (NYSUT*AFT*NEA*AFL-CIO), NYSUT (AFT*NEA*AFL-CIO), The Golub Foundation/Price Chopper, Angelo Mazzone, Kulak's Nursery and Landscaping, and members of the Working Group on Girls.
Joanne Tobiessen, Chair