Ladies on the Land

Girls Division Members Train on Property


Photo by Krithik Rajasegar

Members of St. Benedict’s new Girls Division take a water break during a workout.

For the first time, members of the Girls Division last Wednesday were allowed to come on the property to enable them to start the process of being introduced to the culture of St. Benedict’s Prep.

While the unique culture of SBP is not foreign to many of the girls, they looked forward to being physically present at 520 Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 

Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy ‘63, O.S.B., announced the formation of a Girls Division in early May. However, due to safety precautions from the COVID-19 pandemic, access to SBP has been severely limited. 

“We wanted all the girls together and since we are small we were able to do that, and I think that was the biggest accomplishment for us,” Girl’s Division Dean Ms. Analisa Branco said.

The event was the first of three gatherings that will be held for the Girls Division during this year’s Summer Phase. It was organized by Ms. Branco, along with Vox Institute Executive Director Dr. Glenn Cassidy and faculty of the Girls Division.

Dr. Glenn Cassidy gives words of wisdom to the members of the Girls Division as they pushed through a workout in extreme humidity. (Photo by Krithik Rajasegar)

Ms. Branco explained what the team wanted for the Girls Division when envisioning this day. “It was an awesome team project amongst the teachers of the Girls Division along with Dr. Cassidy,” said Ms. Branco. “We wanted the experience to be similar to the boys, we needed it to cater to our Girls Division.”

Throughout the morning, parents dropped off their daughters at the Fr. Benedict Tyler Lower Field on William Street. The girls practiced social distancing and wore masks. Girls Division Teacher Ms. Benedicte Thieberger-Kittenger took the girls’ temperatures as they walked in. Upon entering the field, the first thing that grabbed the attention of the many young ladies was the phrase “Benedict’s hates a quitter” shouted by Admissions Director Mr. Mario Gallo. 

The action began with physical training, led by Athletic Director Thomas Leahy. He encouraged the girls to push through three rounds of lunges, burpees, push-ups, and sit-ups in 85 degree weather. “It was a challenge for the majority of us, but Fr. Edwin and the team of faculty pushed us to give it our all,” said freshman Adanna Okoro. “Even though you are going up you should never stop growing up.”

After the physical activity came the singing portion of the day, where the students gathered in a large circle singing “Boola Boola.” “I wasn’t in the group who sang the song, but I did hear them,” said UDI Sarha Flores. “Although they seemed a little exhausted after the workouts, they got it, sounded great, and full of Benedict’s pride.” 

For some, the girls singing provided an indelible memory. “When we were all on the field and we were singing ‘Boola Boola’ that gave me the chills… I was like ‘Those are my girls!,’” Ms. Branco said. “That would have to be the one moment that will forever stay with me.” 

While the young women were permitted to sit down for a break, top administration officials shared their feelings on the turnout of the day and their expectations for these female pioneers. 

“You need to support each other this year, and be here for each other,” said Fr. Ed. “Give up what you want for what we need.” 

Dr. Glenn Cassidy reminded the young women that, “The only easy day was yesterday.” 

Assistant Headmaster Ms. Michelle Tuorto mentioned how proud she was of seeing a generation of girls coming together and forming a division that people at first had doubts about. “If any of you need help, we have staff who are willing to help you in anything and everything that you do,” said Ms. Tuorto. 

Girls Division members reported feeling very positive about their experience. “Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever done,” said UDII Cristine Mayte Alvarez. SY Kamily Flores noted that she preferred reality over the virtual experience. “I’ve been to the property before, but not the field,” Kamily said. “It was very nice to see everyone that I have only seen virtually, in person.” 

UDII Yohangil Nolasco took a philosophical perspective. “The day was a day of enlightenment, where each of us had the opportunity to not only be on the property, but understand the essence of the SBP community,” said Yohangil. “If I were to sum up today’s experience, I would say it was eye opening to what is to come.”

At the end of the day, when asked what is next for the Girls Division, Ms. Branco affirmed, “We are here to stay and we are here to conquer.”