On February 7, more than a month of planning and organizing came to fruition when Priory in the City (PIC) students hosted for the school community a screening of the film "RBG," a documentary exploring the life and career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Under the direction of PIC Director Marcie Herring, students successfully planned, organized and marketed the event. More than 100 guests – including former U.S. Representative, gubernatorial candidate and Priory alumna Colleen Hanabusa – attended and learned more about Justice Ginsburg. The evening's goal was to promote civic engagement and to provide a forum for meaningful discussions relevant to today's women.
"Through Priory in the City and our Stevens Global Leadership Initiative, students have the opportunity to hear legislative issues at the annual Hawaii Women's Legislative Caucus Breakfast," Herring said. "As a result of our participation in these kinds of events, students are inspired to intern with state senators and U.S. Congressional members, submit testimony at the legislature and register people to vote. It is incredibly rewarding to see our young women educate themselves on global and local issues, use their voices to contact legislators, and design community events like the RBG film screening to increase civic participation."
The evening got underway with a warm welcome from Head of School Ruth Fletcher Ph.D., who introduced the panelists – Emily Latimer, an alumna of The Priory with experience ranging from working on the Tulsi Gabbard campaign to promoting democracy through the app Kākou; and current seniors Olivia Stoetzer and Felisa Hollenbeak, who recently led voter registration charges at the capitol and the Children and Women Summit. The three discussed a wide range of topics from politics, to women's rights and choosing a career path that fits.
Following the panel discussion, guests enjoyed egg roll and sushi pupus as they watched the documentary film "RBG." The film told the story of Ginsburg and how a lifetime of standing up to the unfair and inequitable treatment of women. Some of her early legal battles are brought to light and the film comments on how these changed the world for women.
"To many, Justice Ginsburg is lovingly known as the Notorious RBG, an internet icon, who's blown up social media with her attack on gender discrimination, her famous dissents and of course, her outfits," Hollenbeak said. "I didn't know much about her personal life before I watched the documentary and for a while, it was enough for me to know that a fierce and intelligent societal matriarch was fighting against gender discrimination as one of the highest authorities in the nation.
"After seeing the documentary, I realized that in order to fight for something one cares about in a way where others will support it, you have to be truly inclusive. Justice Ginsburg tackled the issue of gender discrimination step by step over many years, which led to the concrete foundation of gender equality in the law."
"We want our students to be engaged in the world, committed to making this world more humane and just," Director of Educational Programs Sophie Halliday said. "The film helped our girls become aware of all that's been done to promote equity and the justice in the U.S. and how just one individual can make change."
A fun finish
After the film, guests played a trivia game based on what they had just learned from the movie. A handful of lucky winners took home RBG branded merchandise, including an action figure, books, pins, magnets, coffee mug and Popsocket®.
The night came to an end with each guest writing down what they would do in the future to promote civic engagement on a Post-it® note which was displayed on the back door for others to enjoy. Among the many excellent responses, Rep. Hanabusa stated that she would strive to help more young woman become lawyers by earning their their J.D, a goal she herself achieved at the University of Hawai'i's William S. Richardson School of Law. Several participants said they would speak up against injustice and another said he would support his wife and daughters, so they can be notorious like RBG. Others noted they wanted to be more active in the next voting cycle and promote democracy in their communities.
"I think the impact of the night was that people became more informed about the importance of the federal court system in preserving and enhancing democracy," Halliday said. "Perhaps most importantly, it was shown how one person – using her strengths and her distinct leadership style – can make a huge difference in advancing equity and justice for the American people"
Our global leadership program aims to develop girls into leaders in local, national and international communities. Faculty encourage students to understand and become engaged in global challenges and rouse positive social change. The RBG event did just that and encouraged students to do exactly what Queen Emma set out to teach: Kūlia i ka Nuʻu – Strive for the Highest.