“No matter how it reveals itself (either big or small ways), the Sisterhood pushes me to want to be a better person. It shows me what it means to have true friends. It shows me what it means to value the voices of others. It shows me what it means to be there for others during both good times and bad times.”
—Kathryn Wert ’23, Student Council President
Sisterhood is defined as “the affection and loyalty that women feel for other women who they have something in common with.” A friendship that develops into a sisterhood is the opportunity to be accepted in being yourself. It is a connection based on character rather than clout. It goes beyond the bonds of friendship to stand the test of time, regardless of the changes that life throws our way.
In an all-girls high school, sisterhood takes on a special meaning. It is about building a community of support and encouragement. Girls learn to rely on each other for help, advice, and comfort. They form lasting friendships that are based on trust and shared experiences. Sisterhood teaches girls to be compassionate and understanding towards each other, and to stand up for each other when needed.
One of the most important aspects of sisterhood in an all-girls high school is the sense of unity it creates. Girls learn to work together towards common goals and to celebrate each other's achievements. They learn to appreciate each other's differences and to see the value in diversity. Sisterhood helps girls to break down stereotypes and to see each other as individuals with unique strengths and talents.
Sisterhood also plays a role in academic and personal growth. Girls are encouraged to take risks and to push themselves beyond their comfort zones. They are supported in their academic pursuits and are given the tools and resources they need to succeed. Sisterhood helps girls to develop the confidence and self-assurance they need to navigate the challenges of high school and beyond.
At an all-girls high school, sisterhood is more than just a buzzword. It is a fundamental aspect of the school culture, and it shapes the experiences and relationships of every girl who attends. Sisterhood teaches girls to be strong, compassionate, and supportive towards each other, and it lays the foundation for a lifetime of meaningful relationships and connections.
A Senior’s Thoughts on Sisterhood
At a Merion Mercy Weekly Reset in spring 2023, Student Council president and senior Kathryn Wert shared the morning's reflection, much of which was dedicated to the subject of sisterhood. Here are Kathryn’s remarks:
One of my favorite things about the Sisterhood at Merion is how it shows up in both small and unexpected ways. Take, for example, last year when a retainer (the thing you wear after you get your braces off) was found on a table in the Student Center. Most people would just look at it, think it was gross, and go along with their day, but not us at Merion; a student decided to go to the Student Life office and share news about the desolate retainer, therefore enabling it to be returned to its owner. While the situation itself was funny, it also highlighted how we are always looking out for one another, even if this support is not expressed in more “traditional ways” all the time. Another way the Sisterhood reveals itself is during Prom and Harvest Moon seasons when hallways transform into boutiques as students exchange dresses. Our Sisterhood compels us to ensure that everyone can enjoy the fun of these special school traditions while avoiding the stresses associated with finding dresses for dances. Two other prime examples of the Sisterhood’s presence in everyday moments are the following two questions heard throughout classrooms and hallways daily at Merion: 1) “Does anyone have a computer charger?” and 2) “What period is next?” (An honorary third question would be “What’s for lunch today?”) While these questions alone may seem insignificant (and not like prime examples of our Sisterhood in action), I value that these questions always receive a response. Even though 90% of the time the response is “I don’t have a charger” or “I don’t know what period’s next,” these interactions highlight how we listen to each other and make the effort to ensure our classmates feel heard.
No matter how it reveals itself (either big or small ways), the Sisterhood pushes me to want to be a better person. It shows me what it means to have true friends. It shows me what it means to value the voices of others. It shows me what it means to be there for others during both good times and bad times. Most importantly, it shows me what it means to be an all-around compassionate person. By contributing to and upholding our Sisterhood, you all have helped me to reimagine what the term “community” really means. I feel blessed to be a part of a Sisterhood as successful, diverse, determined, and supportive as ours, and as I leave Merion, I know I will hold close both the memories and lessons from it.
In today’s Gospel reading, Thomas doesn’t believe the Disciples’ claims that Jesus has risen from the dead because he (Thomas) has yet to see Christ with his own eyes. It isn’t until Christ reveals Himself to Thomas a week later that Thomas finally believes. This Gospel reading calls us to abandon the mindset of “seeing is believing,” and it invites us to have faith and trust, even when things may be unclear or hard to see. So, we are invited to regard the Sisterhood in a similar way; even when we are not physically at Merion (or, in the case of seniors, once we have graduated), we must trust that the Merion Mercy Sisterhood extends well beyond the physical building and that it follows and guides us in our next journey in life. Even if we can’t see the Sisterhood as often as we do when in school, we must trust that it’s there. Whether you search for ways that Sisterhood or community surface in a new environment or if you remind yourself of the special lessons you’ve learned from our MMA Sisterhood, it’s important that we regard the Sisterhood as a gift of which we have the ability to “carry on the legacy.” And, when we go through periods where the Sisterhood is hard to see, we are called to remind ourselves of that friend, that teacher, that moment, that day, or that class (the list goes on!) that made us feel loved, seen, and accepted. I personally would define the Sisterhood as just that; the feeling of being loved, seen, and accepted. So, whether that’s within the walls of 511 Montgomery Ave or 50 years from now across the country, we are called to remember how we felt as a part of the Sisterhood and to help others to feel that way, too.
Kathryn is not alone in her recognition and appreciation for the Merion Mercy sisterhood. When asked for reflections from their MMA experiences, graduating seniors frequently reference the special bond between students and alumnae:
“As a senior, Merion has given me my absolute best friends whom I call my sisters. I am grateful I have the opportunity to attend MMA. Merion has taught me that I am strong enough to do hard things and to always be my true self. It is going to be hard to leave my sisters and the spot I love so well, but I know that we will always have each other's backs and make more memories. 511, I love you." —Bree Stevenson
“My sisters have taught me what it means to be a part of the Merion 'sisterhood' and for that I am forever grateful. Words cannot describe how much I will miss the 511 next year!" —Sara Wimmer
“I am so grateful for the past four years at Merion. The friendships, opportunities, and memories I have made here have certainly shaped my life for the better. I loved being apart of the sisterhood and learned many lessons that go beyond the classroom. Merion has helped me become the best version of myself, and I am so thankful!!" —Annie McGovern
What it comes down to is this: Through the years, you will have other girls/women who will walk with you through the most difficult times in your life. The bonds of sisterhood go beyond family, connecting us to each other and allowing each girl/woman in the sisterhood to thrive in ways we could never do on our own.
Please share your thoughts on sisterhood in the comments below.