MOUNT VERNON – Women from Mount Vernon gathered in the Mount Vernon High School cafeteria for a night of Helping Everyone Rise (H.E.R.) on Friday, March 31, 2023. H.E.R. encourages women to build community together to assist all women. The event was organized by Nakia Hiland, parent liaison of MVHS, and other MVHS staff. The women played games, discussed the challenges of being a woman, and had dinner and drinks with each other.
Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. K. Veronica Smith, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, Climate, and Culture Dr. Beverley Jones, Acting Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services Dr. Marie Gaboton-Swift attended the event. Former State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard also joined.
“There is no better way to end Women’s History Month than to be surrounded by all these great women from Mount Vernon,” said Dr. Smith. “Our young ladies need strong women role models, and I see so many of those around the room today. This truly helps us build a strong community for our students as they become young women and move on from our schools. Subsequently, they will always have the support of the women from this community.”
The night began with a game of Conversation Bingo. Each box had a conversation starter, and people could fill out the card by writing a person’s name in corresponding boxes. This activity encouraged guests at the event to meet other women and build more relationships with them. One of the purposes of H.E.R. was to build a community of women looking out for each other, and this was an easy way for women to begin building that community together. People made friends and learned about their fellow women.
The next activity was led by Dr. Pauline Pearce, principal at Mount Vernon High School. She made thought provoking statements about women’s issues, and then the women playing would go to one side of the room if they agreed and one if they disagreed. Then, they would have a conversation about why they agreed or disagreed. Everyone was able to share their thoughts on how they felt about certain issues facing women today and how to deal with them.
The group held conversations about what problems women are facing, the harm of beauty standards, and how to value yourself as a woman. While they did not always agree, they each gave input on how they believed that women can be uplifted and help each other.
“At Night of H.E.R we are celebrating National Women’s History Month, and we thought this would be a great opportunity to close out the month and go into the break,” said Dr. Pearce. “We are giving our students the tools to create supportive networks. One of our values here is community, so this is a great opportunity for our girls to meet new people, build networks and make new friendships so they can have support along the way.”
The Mount Vernon Lady Knights and Mount Vernon High School Cheerleading Team were the honored guests of the night.
They were chosen because, while there were many accomplished women in the room, the focus of the night was on the women who will lead and succeed in the future.
After a reading from Dr Pearce, Ms. Hiland, Districtwide Psychologist Fernanda Carvalho, and MVHS Vice Principal Erica Naughton about what it means to be a woman, they then participated in a journaling session followed by dinner.
The Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, which runs the Girls Embracing Maturity program for young girls in Mount Vernon, attended the event too. Destination College was also there to share any resources that could support young women going to college.
Women then went to the art stations for a paint and sip. This activity incorporated art therapy as they painted faces onto masks depicting the type of women they see themselves as. There was a raffle for a television presented by the mayor. Donated dresses were also available for free to any girls that needed them for prom or another occasion.