Mentorship and leadership bloom in local group
Laker Ladies discuss teen joy and anxiety
Fueled on Oreos and Goldfish crackers, a group of teen girls gathered in a circle last week in a Lake Oswego Junior High School classroom after school, hopping through a Hula-Hoop they passed between them.
How about we see how fast we can do it blindfolded? called out Rachel Moss, a sixth-grader.
A few female students from Lake Oswego High School who cross Country Club Road on Thursdays to visit the junior high girls considered the idea before deeming it as potentially dangerous. After all, the LOHS students are Laker Ladies, striving to serve as positive role models and create a fun but safe atmosphere.
Really, being safe, above all, is creating a place where all the students feel like they can say anything on their minds and trust that it wont get spread around and they wont be judged. The girls touch on topics including dealing with: the loss of a pet, pressure to succeed, the challenge of competitive sports, rude classmates, irksome siblings and friend drama. Even fun stuff can be stressful, such as anxiety over choosing the perfect dress for a formal dance. Although, Grace Peterson, a sixth-grader, is planning ahead.
I have those little sketchbooks called Fashion Angels, and they have little outfits, and Ive planned what Im going to wear to my first prom, Grace said.
LOHS Junior Christina Miller said mostly the group is about lighthearted talks and activities such as an Instagram scavenger hunt and a game involving naming vegetables while keeping your lips over your teeth. Miller said she had at first expected a series of conversations solely centering on awkward girl issues.
Instead, we were just hanging out and having fun. Miller said.
Laker Ladies are in a yearlong LOHS social studies elective called Political Action Seminar in which students seek to affect their school and community in a positive and meaningful way. There are nine Laker Ladies, four seniors and five juniors, and the ladies have mentored eight to 25 LOJ students at a time.
Serena Xu, a Laker Lady, said shes learning how to interact with junior high students.
I didnt realize how different it was to be around junior high school students. ... They have a lot more innocence, said Xu, a junior.
Girl Talk, a national nonprofit organization, inspired an LOHS mother and three daughters to launch the Laker Ladies three years ago under the name Girl Talk. The Atlanta-based national group advocates bringing high school and middle school girls together to foster leadership in the former and to provide mentors for the latter.
The local groups moniker became Laker Ladies this school year because it seemed a little catchier, said Laker Lady Kayla Allen.
Rebecca Cohen, LOJHS counselor, and Amy Espinosa, an LOJHS teacher, were monitoring the Laker Ladies last week. Cohen said the girls are a diverse group yet they respect everyones differences and treat each other with respect. Theyve also become close-knit.
Its not about a popularity contest, its about ... Cohen began, pausing for a moment.
Being together, Espinosa filled in.
And being women, Cohen finished.
Jillian Daley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT