6 Oak Knoll Students Pilot National Civic Engagement Program

A new program at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child kicked off this week in the hopes to help empower future generations of female changemakers.

The Upper School History Department is taking part in the newly implemented national Close Up Washington DC’s Empowering Female Voices: President’s First 100 Days program. This collaborative program is offered in partnership with the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools and the Hockaday Institute for Social Impact.

“The History Department is excited that our students have this opportunity,” said Oak Knoll School History Department Chair Nicole Johnston. “The program allows our students to collaborate with other students across the country and world. Each session will also teach them important new skills and competencies. We are looking forward to our six students bringing their experience back to Oak Knoll.”

With the new presidential administration’s transition to power, the program offers girls from different backgrounds opportunities to take part in a fast-moving period of national conversation and action. Its goal is to help girls develop empathy for the perspectives of others while building skills and confidence along the way.

The six, 75-minute program sessions led by Close Up instructors take place virtually every Monday and Thursday evening through February 11.

Session topics include Building an Inclusive Community and Staying Engaged after the Election, identifying a pressing national issue, developing policy proposals, hearing from experts, advocating for policies and lastly presenting proposals.

Oak Knoll students who applied and were accepted into the program, are examining the ongoing agenda of the U.S. president, sharing their own priorities, and understanding the ways in which ordinary people can influence the nation’s roadmap for the future.

Oak Knoll Senior Maura Ferrigno ’21 was attracted to the program because she said it’s an opportunity to learn about pressing world issues in a way that could be constructive and beneficial to those affected by them.

Ferrigno and her small group are currently working on creating policy for a political issue – police brutality – within the criminal justice system.

“Working with other young women who are also passionate about these issues makes me feel like I can actually make a change, instead of just learning about all the injustices in the world and not doing anything about them,” she said. “I really appreciate the experience of talking with other girls from all over the country and hearing their stories, because it brings different perspectives and ideas to such an important issue.”

Joining Ferrigno in the program are Mya Arends ’23, Leslie Atahualpa ’22, Alexandria Lopez ’24, Nesa Shamdasani ’24 and Alexandra Zukowsky ’24.

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