Most cultures have a rite of passage that is taken as children grow up and move on to adulthood, according to Mrs. Nicole Lemon, the sponsor for Working on Womanhood (W.O.W.) at Proviso East High School.
On Tuesday, February 25, 23 Proviso East female students passed from childhood and their teen years to "working on womanhood" in a brief ceremony in the school’s Think Tank room. The ceremony involved meeting for pizza and the receiving of purple T-shirts bearing the group’s name.
The group, conducted by Youth Guidance, is designed for girls to come together and discuss different issues that they are facing, Mrs. Lemon said. They talk about anything with which they are dealing in their lives, with the goal of living out W.O.W.’s five core values of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, having healthy relationships, visionary goal setting, and leadership.
"We do fun activities to teach those core values," Mrs. Lemon said. "It’s a more therapeutic group, dealing with emotions and behaviors. We’re teaching strong values to the girls."
W.O.W. also educates the girls through a curriculum of activities, including taking field trips along with the discussion groups.
"You have only so long to be a child and only a few years to be a teenager," Mrs. Lemon said to the girls during the "Rites of Passage" ceremony. "It’s about supporting each other in this group."
The girls who are part of the group said that it has been beneficial to their emotional and intellectual well-being.
Kayla Hatley, a Proviso East freshman, said that she joined "to become a woman and express my feelings."
"It’s being able to tell people things without being judged and criticized," she said.
Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, said that W.O.W. and its Youth Guidance-supported brother group, Becoming a Man (B.A.M.), have helped students in adjusting to life as they continue to grow.
"Part of growing up is learning how to deal with changing emotions and feelings," he said. "Education not only includes academics, but working out emotional issues that will serve them well throughout high school and beyond."