My all-girls school gave me the confidence to excel

Nov 5, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Image: Courtesy Of Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga, TN

Here's to the girls! From when I was 12 years old to when I was 18 years old, I attended an all-girls school. A lot of people I encounter as an adult react as though I must have had a horrible adolescence. Quite the contrary. I'm still noticing immeasurable benefits from my experience.

We did not care about hair and makeup

Maybe because there weren't boys at our school, very few girls cared about hair styles or makeup. Most of the time, we wore fresh faces and ponytails. We learned how to do every type of braid imaginable, and when we went off to college, our roommates had to teach us how to put on makeup. We wore uniforms and weren't concerned with how we looked. Removing all of this superficiality helped us to get to know people for who they were, not what they looked like or what fashion label they wore.

Girls school bonds
Image: Courtesy of Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga, TN

We focused on excelling in sports and academics

Scholarships, leadership positions and top grades in honors courses were all awarded to girls. The class president was a girl. The valedictorian was a girl. The athlete who won state was a girl. The assembly speakers were girls. Maybe it seems obvious, but we learned that we could be whatever we wanted to be — and not in relation to how we compared with boys. The sky was the limit, and the glass ceiling had been shattered. The classes focused on computer technology and engineering, and no one suggested, even subtly, that girls couldn't excel in those subjects.

All girls school focuses on science
Image: Courtesy of Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga, TN

We developed a bond of sisterhood

It's true that we didn't wear makeup, we weren't concerned with shaving our legs and we sat on the floor in class and laid our heads on our friends' laps. We walked to class linking arms and had no problem discussing our periods or any other bodily function. We had some cliques, but most girls were diverse enough to have friends in every group. I was on the track team and in the choir, for example. We supported each other through puberty, boyfriends, parents' divorces and not making the basketball team. Being popular was based on the positive traits of kindness and generosity, not superficial traits like physical looks or money. For six years, we were each others' biggest fans. This forged lifelong friendships, which we're still enjoying years later. No matter how much time passes or how far distance takes us, our bond of sisterhood can't be broken.

Girls school bonds
Image: Courtesy of Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga, TN

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