Saturday, May 24, 2008

Celebrate This, Part II

Thinking about yesterday's post, I decided to take action above and beyond blogging about the problem of publicly celebrating engagements, weddings and births without also celebrating academic, professional and other other types of accomplishments -- accomplishments which are often much more rare and difficult to attain than getting hitched and reproducing. The following letter is being sent to the Head of School at the high school I attended - Sacred Heart Academy.

Dear Head of School:

I was pleased to receive the Spring 2008 issue of the "Cordecho" and I enjoyed reading about the various pursuits of my fellow alumnae. However, I was not pleased to see that, as an institution that prides itself on developing the spirit, mind and body of its students, so little emphasis is placed on alumnae accomplishments involving the mind. Specifically, I refer to the fact that the newsletter inappropriately and inaccurately classifies significant academic and professional accomplishments as mere "News," while awarding a much more approving and positive heading to the listing of engagements, weddings and births: "In Celebration."

For example, in reading the "News," I learned that not one but two graduates have received Fulbright Scholarships, and that another has recently defended her PhD dissertation, while yet another is a Chief Medical Resident who will soon join the faculty of a prestigious medical institution. These accomplishments are amazing, impressive and even inspiring. Are these not worth celebrating at least as much as private, familial developments (which, while no less satisfying and celebratory to the people involved, are certainly less rare and often take much less effort)?

I understand that headings used to organize alumnae updates are not intended to diminish or downplay the many wonderful things that our alumnae are accomplishing beyond the domestic sphere. However, going forward, I would urge you to consider correcting this outdated oversight by embracing a more contemporary and worldly view of what is worth celebrating. As a school community, we should be celebrating our leaders, our scholars, and our professionals just as much as we celebrate wives and mothers. As a practical matter, this could be easily remedied by adding the subheadings "Academics" and "The Professions" or even just "Awards and Accomplishments" to the existing subheadings, and adding mortarboard and diploma images to the baby pacifier, wedding-cake topper and engagement ring images presently displayed.

As we continue forward in this groundbreaking year, when a woman is making more progress toward our nation's highest office than ever before, we should be nurturing, encouraging and enthusiastically celebrating womens' accomplishments in the world no less than their accomplishments in the home. When young women who are hardworking, service-oriented and capable of leadership graduate from Sacred Heart Academy, they should be ready to engage with the world in positive and meaningful ways, secure in the knowledge that when their efforts are successful, they will be acknowledged.

Not only would these improvements be more in keeping with the mission and values of the school, it might encourage more alumnae involvement, communication and support from women who are proud of their accomplishments and would like to see them celebrated, such as myself.

By the way, you might also consider using the salutation "Ms." rather than "Miss" on alumnae mailings. At the very least, please change mine to "Ms." Thank you very much for your consideration.

I'll let you know if I get a response...

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