February 9, 2023
Community Spotlight: Meet East High School's Ladies First: Black Women's Unity Club
February is Black History Month! It is a time to honor and celebrate the contributions and achievements made by Black/African Americans in this country, past and present. In recognition of Black History Month, we spotlight those within our community that create, educate, motivate, and encourage exploration. I emailed Ariel Ruempolhamer, Denver East High School’s Community & Family Engagement Coordinator, who facilitates Ladies First: Black Women’s Unity Club, to learn more about Ladies First and its influence on Black female identifying students at East High School.
Hi Ariel! How are you doing?
Hello, I am very well, thank you.
You facilitate the Ladies First: Black Women’s Unity Club. Could you share more about the group and its mission?
The mission of Ladies First is to establish an engaging and intellectual community where young Black women of all cultural backgrounds can come together and raise awareness of the many facets of young Black women’s experiences in high school; including popular culture, politics, history, and relating these topics back to diasporic roots.
How has Ladies First impacted the students that participate?
Here is what one participant had to say: “Ladies First has had a profound impact on my life. It is a club that focuses on building relationships and creating a safe space for the young Black women at East High School. The club places an emphasis on womanism and leadership, helping young women understand the unique challenges and opportunities they may face as Black women in positions of power, the workforce and everyday life.
“Additionally, the club promotes the idea that there is no one way to be a successful Black woman and creates a space where we can learn from each other and aid in each other's growth. As a member, the club offers a supportive community, resources, and role models that aid young Black women in reaching their full potential. The emphasis on self-care and empowerment is vital for personal and professional development. Ladies First is an invaluable resource for young Black women, fostering the growth of strong, confident, and successful individuals. The friendships I have made and relationships I have cultivated are amazing. I have been able to make friends with like-minded individuals and young Black women who exude Black excellence every day. I hope that these friendships and connections will last a lifetime.”
-Celes Buffard, Class of 2023
What are some of the programs (or events) that the club organizes?
There are several programs that Ladies First organizes.One of the main programs that lasts throughout the year is the Madam CJ Walker: Black Girl Hair Project.
There are four components to the project.
Hair Product Exchange Kick Off:
This is a Black girl hair exchange that we will be doing as a kick off party for the Black Girl Hair Project. We will have products that the Black girls can trade.
Black Girl Elementary Project:
Ladies First creates two lesson plans for elementary Black girls that will be executed in two phases that are a week apart. The first week, the Black girls receive Black hair-care books, and the second week, they receive black hair care products.
Black Girl Hair Pantry:
The Black Girl Hair Pantry Project is an online project where Black girl identifying students will be able to access hair hygiene products, which they can pickup on Fridays to use during a wash weekend.
Black Girl Hair Workshop:
The Black Girl Hair workshop is an opportunity for guardians to come together with their Black students and learn braiding and styling techniques for all curl types!
Junior Preview Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Trip:
One thing that the Ladies First really enjoy is our Junior Preview HBCU Trip! The Office of Admissions invites East High School Ladies First Juniors to explore HBCU campuses and all that the institutions have to offer. During a series of informative sessions, students learn about programs of study and gain valuable insight on test taking strategies, preparing their application for admission, financial aid and seeking scholarships. In addition, they are able to interact with current students during panel discussions or lunch in the cafe, so they are able to discover more about the supportive learning environment, and numerous opportunities outside of the college classroom.
Black Girl Senior College Bootcamp Retreat:
The college bootcamp is an opportunity for college bound students to prepare for the college lifestyle. Everything from mental and physical practices to budget management as a college student.
Why is it important to create a space of unity and support like the Unity Group in high schools?
Ladies First is about the power of womanism and to promote the unity of young Black women in each school. Our club is geared towards outrageous, audacious and courageous young Black women that want to learn more about the benefits and access available to them in order to ensure academic and social success after post-graduation.
How can the community support Ladies First: Black Women’s Unity Club?
Young Black women’s education, self-care, financial health, and physical health is where we have concentrated our efforts with Ladies First. There are many facets to each category. Our community can support Ladies First through sponsorships of our HBCU trip as well as our College Boot Camp. If you are interested in being a financial sponsor of either of these experiences, you may send a tax deductible donation via check to Ladies First: East High School to 1600 City Park Esplanade, Denver, Colorado 80206
We are also looking for paid internships for these students and meeting facilitators for our weekly meetings! If you would specifically like to discuss donation of time and resources please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s a new year! What are you looking forward to in 2023?
2023 will be the first graduating class of Ladies First members! I am looking forward to expanding our alumni network along with bringing high class lifestyle exposure to the ladies of Ladies First!