Grit or hesitation?
March 16, 2022
Editor's Note: The following reflective essay on Culver Girls Academy, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, is written by second rotation Senior Prefect Mikel Alvis (Norman, Oklahoma).
The vicissitudes of reality keep me from predicting what kind of Academy CGA students will graduate from in 50 years. Thankfully, my hope for the future is not bound by such restrictions.
In 2072, I hope people no longer ask about the next 50 years of CGA. That we reflexively approach cultural, technological, and economic challenges as a co-educated school: Culver. Not as CGA or CMA. Not as CMA and CGA.
CGA was a calculated risk at its foundation, serving as a pathway for women to enter classrooms in pursuit of a comprehensive education. In Culver Daughter’s Sing Thy Praise (Women of Culver) by Dean Mary Frances England, she states:
"When faculty sons came of age to enroll in Woodcraft, Summer School and the Academy, we girls were observers, outsiders. Though we were impressed by the uniforms, the formality, and the glamour of the unknown, I did harbor envy though never bitterness." (England, 13)
In the aforementioned work Dean England speaks of Greta Berlin, one of the first female students to graduate from CMA. Berlin was caught "kissing a boy on the stairs of the gym just before spring break" (p. 35). When returning from break "[she] was called into the office of Dean Benson... [she] was grounded for six weeks...What happened to the boy? Nothing. He was questioned about what had happened and told the same story [she] had told... However, boys will be boys and, since [she] was the girl, [she] was responsible" (England, 35).
When Dean England declared CAG's foundation to be "the most important decision in Culver history" the idea of an institution that considered men and women intellectual equals, enough to develop them so, was unprecedented. Including women, amongst other varying identification groups, is no longer a novel concept. How we choose to exercise the skills taught/developed at Culver is still to be determined. Every individual at Culver plays a role in the foundation of values that our future peers will act on.
At Culver we raise generations of leaders who will not perpetuate standards that treat men and women differently. That said, we must now remember to teach leadership that treats men, and all other identity groups, equally, not belittling their contributions in an attempt to equalize women. Reality outside Culver is divided, so this must come from the inherent separation of Culver and the surrounding world.
Our goal is not just to create generations of females who recognize their ability to lead. It is for such generations to exercise their abilities with purposeful inclusion.
It would be inconsistent with Dean England's mission for me to misrepresent the progress we have made, and the hope I have for our future, as I currently see them. Culver is convoluted, developing, and thankfully open ended. That is part of what has set us apart. Looking forward, my hope is that graduates of CGA, myself included, act with attention to the impact of their actions.
As the future approaches, bringing with it the inevitable establishment of our legacy, will our epitaph display grit or hesitation?