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Alumnae Reflect on Coeducation

Alumnae Reflect on Coeducation

Alumnae Reflect on Coeducation


Alumnae Panelists Share Memories of Coeducation

Contributing Writer

April 13, 2023

Evelyn Anderson '26

On Tuesday, March 28, seven alumni spoke on a panel at All-School Meeting about their experiences as female students at Hotchkiss. The panelists shared anecdotes about their time at the school and reflected on the importance of the upcoming 50th anniversary of coeducation at Hotchkiss.

Speakers included Caroline Kenny-Burchfield ’77, coordinator of volunteer programs; Robin Chandler ’87, communications project manager; Christie Gurney Rawlings ’85, summer programs director of admission & residential life; Hope Cobera ’88, chief communications officer; Kelsie Fralick ’11, instructor in Latin; Lisanne Norman ’94, co-director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; and Imani Majied ’15, director of Multicultural Outreach & Improvement.

Panelists also read aloud stories from Rachel Schroeder Rodgers ’09, associate director of Alumni and Parent Engagement; Caroline Reilly ’87, director of Alumni and Parent Engagement; Kait Leonard ’06, associate director of admission; Tina Test ’76, director of leadership giving; Nilaja Green ’99, mental health counselor; Nian Lee Wilder ’86, director of reunion giving; and Danielle Turner ’03, head athletic trainer.

Mrs. Kenny-Burchfield emphasized that the school community is simply a subset of the outside world, and therefore the entrance of her class reflected the fight for equality made by women in the 1970’s. She said, “You had to have a certain spirit, a chutzpah, a grit. We knew we were pioneers, we knew we could push the boundaries.” When reflecting upon her experiences in the classroom, she shared that some faculty were adamant that girls would “ruin the school.” Without the support of her teachers, school became exponentially more difficult, especially when, she said, “we were already intimidated in the classroom.” She recalls a group of female students satirically dressing up in coats and ties for a video about how well women had been integrated into the school’s community. She highlighted the significance of these small acts of rebellion, for they were a mechanism to prove to the school, and ultimately the world, that “we were here to stay.”

Another alum, Mrs. Rawlings, stated that while she did not always understand it at the time, there were many imbalances in the ways female and male students were treated. For example, she reflected that there was an advanced senior English class that was solely available to boys until Mrs. Rawlings’ senior year. She also explained that for an extended amount of time, the female faculty did not have a designated locker room, and therefore had to share with female students. “It didn’t even cross my mind when I was a student here,” that female and male students at the school were treated differently.

Many plans are in the works for the 50th anniversary celebration of coeducation in 2025. Ms. Chandler said, “We have enlisted the help of faculty and staff and created a steering committee who will help with overarching planning and guidance.”

Evelyn Anderson is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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