On a cold, gray Friday morning, Isabella Galloza stood right near the entrance of Trinity High School, carrying a basket of party horns. The 18-year-old senior was one of two students posted at the door, lip syncing to Kelly Clarkson’s pop hit “Miss Independent,” and hyping her peers and teachers up for the Walk of Honor, a brief outdoor event aimed to honor the many women who changed the world.
The event, which was held March 18 during Women’s History Month, was organized by the school’s student-led Women Supporting Women club. Students from the group created more than 150 signs, each featuring the names or portraits of different women, including transgender activist Marsha Johnson, former first lady Michelle Obama, Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai and renowned superstar Beyoncé. Apart from the sea of celebrities, other signs that stood out centered on beloved mothers, sisters, community leaders and Trinity educators. Their pictures were surrounded by the words “strong,” “courageous” and “confident” in big, bold colors.
“For over 100 years, women have fought and used their voices and have been pushed down by society,” said Brianna Washington, a senior at Trinity who helped organize the event and co-founded the club with best friend and fellow classmate Anahi Rios. “It’s important we really show that we’re thankful for these opportunities and that we truly show our account for each other. And also going to an all-girls school – we’re still here.”
Washington and Rios, both 18, told Wednesday Journal that they came up with the idea for the club early on in the pandemic. Rios said she was struggling with an eating disorder and felt alone, often confiding in Washington, who was also navigating her own challenges. Those late-night Facetime calls and text threads, they said, laid the foundation for the club. The two, who have been friends since freshman year, said they wanted to create a space for their classmates to talk, hang out and be together.
“When you have someone else going through a similar thing with you, it makes you feel less alone,” Rios said, adding Women Supporting Women also makes an effort to normalize the issues that young women face.
Washington and Rios said they looped in Susie Bedell, Trinity’s vice president of student life, and Keila Green, a school counselor and club moderator. Bedell said the premise of the club embodied the school’s mission of empowering women to be leaders, and the club’s Walk of Honor also amplified that message.
“The way we learn is by watching those around us who inspire us, who give us life, who lift us up,” Bedell said. “That’s where we get our role models. From the women who have gone before us. What a powerful way to say, ‘Yes, I am an advocate. I am a woman who supports women, but behind me stands a chain of people who are supporting women.’”
When asked what it means to be a woman, the students at Trinity had different answers. Anastacia Kelly, a junior, told the Journal being a woman is about lifting other women up and being strong together. Galloza said it’s all about living boldly.
For Washington, who is Black, it’s about not letting her voice be silenced. And for Rios, a daughter of a Mexican immigrant, being a woman is about using her mother’s spirit and family’s history to blaze her own path.
“I think it really is a gift to be a woman,” Rios said.