PerSISTERS: Archer celebrates 24th year, recognizes seniors


Photo credit: Zoe Griffin

Student Body President and senior Gracie Wilson offers flowers to two of Archer’s founders, Vicky Shorr and Diana Meehan. The Archer community gathered in the courtyard on Wednesday, Nov. 6, to recognize the senior class and celebrate Archer’s twenty-fourth year.

Women were granted the right to vote 99 years ago in the year 1920. Seventy-six years later, Diana Meehan, Vicky Shorr and Megan Callaway completed their own journey for female empowerment when they opened The Archer School for Girls. The goal of the school, as written in the mission statement, was to create graduates who are “courageous,” “resilient” and “responsible.”

Parents, students and faculty came together on Wednesday, Nov. 6, to celebrate the founders, the school’s twenty-fourth anniversary, and the Class of 2020. In her speech, founder Diana Meehan mentioned the struggle for women’s suffrage and acknowledged some of the women who have made her feel “powerful.”

“We knew that leaders of great countries — at the time we had Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher — the first two had gone to single-sex schools,” Meehan said. “There was something wrong with how our [American] education system was teaching girls. The antidote was clear: it was a single-sex school.” 

Later, Jennifer Dohr, the seniors’ dean, mentioned more recent feminist movements that “embody” Archer’s mission and her hopes for the seniors.

“Nevertheless, she persisted — those three words instantly transformed into the rallying cry of millions of women everywhere,” Dohr said. “Because that’s how we get things done. We persist. That’s what our founders did, and that’s what you’ll do.”

Gracie Wilson, the Student Body President, acknowledged her appreciation for the faculty and administration, describing herself as “wowed” by their commitment to the student experience.

The most frightening goodbye I face in May is the goodbye on the tip of my tongue every time I catch a glimpse of my own reflection. … I must say goodbye to myself as an Archer girl. I must say goodbye to childhood.”

— Talia Mainwaring, senior, quoted by Gracie Wilson

“I didn’t realize how much thought is put in behind the scenes, into every minute aspect of Archer life,” Wilson said. “I instantly noticed that the careful thought by our school’s leaders and teachers put into each individual decision.”

One such decision was orienting the year around connections, which Head of School Elizabeth English alluded to in her speech.

“What you will remember about [high school] is none of the tests you took or the papers you wrote,” English said. “But you’ll remember the girls who sat next to you and studied with you and wiped your tears when something went awry. You’ll remember the teachers who inspired you.”

Senior Lola Vescovo felt as though the ceremony was a “celebration” of the work the class of 2020 has put into college applications.

“We had just completed the November 1 deadline,” Vescovo said several days after the event. “We got through the first hurdle of college, and now we were being recognized for it.”

Wilson saw the recognition ceremony as an opportunity to look to the future,  describing it as “frightening,” but her experience at Archer a as “gift.”

“Seniors, this right here is one of our last moments,” Wilson said. “We’re here because of our founders, but we too are now woven into the fabric of Archer.”