The SISTERS Assembly: Honoring Living Trailblazers

by Vanessa Paige ’24
Every year the SISTERS affinity group, featuring some of Winsor’s Black students, plans a presentation for the school during our cyclical meetings as a part of our Black History Month celebration. This year we were joined by Lower-School Somos-Sisters, a joint affinity group between Hispanic, Latinx, and Black students. They were such awesome presenters, and we really enjoyed their collaboration on this project. This February 16, we planned to address the Black diaspora and highlight current Black female trailblazers. 

The presentation started confident and strong. A member of our group, Jeremiah Hickman-Maynard ’23, did an exceptional job singing one of our school’s anthems, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Accompanying herself on the piano, she sang the entire hymn, more than the excerpt we’re used to. She successfully captured the message of earned belonging that the music portrays. Her performance set the tone of our event, bringing us back to Black history; She sang in celebration of those who “march on till victory is won.”  It was these people we hoped to recognize with the day’s assembly, those who continue to pave the way for us. 

We followed with an introduction to the history of Black history and defined what it means to be a trailblazer; it felt essential to provide context and establish why we recognize our heroes. We then, joined by Lower School Somos-Sisters, introduced ourselves and shared our ethnicities, a crucial aspect of discussing our diverse identities. Although we all identify as Black, our different backgrounds must be recognized and celebrated. 
The Lower Schoolers began recognizing some of our great role models, including Rihanna, Coco Gauff, and Mae Jemison. The Upper Schoolers then celebrated more trailblazers such as our vice president Kamala Harris and well-awarded tennis player Naomi Osaka — the highest-paid female athlete. 

In an effort to empower our community, we moved to appreciate the trailblazers within Winsor. We congratulated Winsor Alum Unique Hodge ’18, a former SISTERS head and recent Harvard grad, in her business endeavors. With her website, Oak Systems, which helps users find Black-owned natural hair care suited to their hair type, she seeks to make Black hair products more accessible and visible for Black women. Needless to say, we fully support her and it. 

Our final mention was one who especially deserved our praise and gratitude. And to properly do so, we invited none other than Ms. Lauren Martin P ’14 to the stage, one of our former health teachers, to recognize Ms. Jacqueline Arrington P ’85: Winsor’s first director of health services and the school’s first Black trustee. We needed to show Ms. Arrington our deep appreciation for her journey and her influence. Ms. Martin shared Ms. Arrington’s story and her impact on the Winsor community, and while speaking of how her path inspired her, Ms. Martin concluded and adorned Ms. Arrington, “mentor, educator, mama bear… a true Winsor trailblazer.” To this, we agree a hundred times over. We were so glad Ms. Martin and Ms. Arrington were able to attend our assembly, for it would’ve been incomplete without them. 

Through that day’s event, we hoped to give our sincere thanks to the women making a big difference now and the pioneers who paved the way for Black female success. We were beyond delighted to have this opportunity to share our gratitude with the whole of Winsor.