Girls Night Out was held at AHM Youth and Family Services on Aug. 24.
The event was geared toward girls entering the seventh through ninth grades, and was hosted by members of the RHAM senior class.
RHAM senior Sarah DiPasquale has been involved with the Lanterns Mentoring Program through AHM for a number of years. Her mentee is about to enter her freshman year at RHAM.
"Their discussions, and the concerns [the younger girl] had, kind of led to this idea," said Lanterns Program Director Laurie Larsen.
The AHM Lanterns Mentoring Program is a school-based model. Mentors and students meet once a week for one hour (usually during lunch and recess) in the six schools in the towns of Andover, Hebron, and Marlborough. The mentoring pairs eat lunch together, play games, do crafts, and take walks outside. They form important friendships that inspire children to be the best they can be.
A few years ago, Larsen incorporated RHAM students into the program, who meet with their mentees after school. DiPasquale began thinking about the concerns of her younger mentee, and other young girls, surrounding entering high school.
"I was cleaning out my closet and had all these clothes, but no one to give them to," said DiPasquale.
She began to form an idea for a back-to-school event for younger girls. Finding her friends also had lots of gently-used clothes to give away, DiPasquale decided to incorporate a clothes closet into the event. Other activities included a manicure station, a facial station, a hair station, and meditation instruction. The evening wrapped up with an ice cream sundae station.
All of the events were hosted by members of the RHAM High School incoming senior class.
"I asked girls who are friendly and outgoing, and I also tried to choose from a diverse group," said DiPasquale.
By involving girls in the drama club, music programs, athletics, and the National Honor Society, DiPasquale hoped that each of the younger girls "would have someone to relate to," she said.
Girls Night Out was intended to provide young women with ideas regarding how to do things "on their own, and kind of on a budget," said DiPasquale. DiPasquale said she also hoped the event would help to bridge the gap between girls from the middle school and girls from the high school.
The high school Lanterns program, "is working out really well, and the relationships have thrived," said Larsen. Larsen felt that Girls Night Out would help to further the message that older girls are approachable, and can provide a source of support.
DiPasquale said that mentoring has been an extremely rewarding experience.
"Middle school girls have so much going on, that having someone to talk to once a week can mean so much," she said. "[Mentoring] taught me so much about recognizing how much girls have going on in their lives."
The mentoring program "gives them another support system," she said.
Lauren Hickey is another RHAM senior who has been mentoring a younger girl for a couple of years.
"We do a lot of things together. I think of her more as my friend, honestly," said Hickey.
Her mentee, Kelly, an incoming RHAM freshman, sees Hickey as something of a big sister.
"I can tell her pretty much anything," said Kelly.
Kelly said that her mentor helped prepare her to enter high school.
"Everybody has their idea of what it's like. She showed me what it's really like," said Kelly.
During Girls Night Out, there was a lot of talk about high school, clothes, and more, between manicures and facials. With 18 girls attending the event, "I think it went really well," said Larsen, who hoped to be able to make it an annual event.
At the manicure table, Dana and Natalie, both going into the eighth grade, waited for their nails to dry. Dana said that Girls Night Out had been a great experience.
"I loved it," she said.
Natalie agreed, naming the shopping as her favorite activity.
"I hope they have it again," she said.
DiPasquale wished to thank AHM for helping to arrange the event, as well as her parents, Janet and Chris, owners of Performance Physical Therapy, who donated ice cream, facial supplies, and more for the event.
The senior girls who participated in Girls Night Out were DiPasquale, Gabby Bilter, Nicole Bellhorn, Maggie McClurg, Lauren Delissio, Mackenzie Lalashuis, Olivia Folkes, Shilo Hollister, Jenna Bator, and Hickey.