Man Up/Girl Rising


Sam Newman, Review Staff

Feature Photo By: Sam Newman – The Aurora Public Schools Professional Learning and Conference Center, or the PLCC, is a center for meetings of many groups, including staff and students. Man Up and Girl Rising have been held at the PLCC for the past few years, and they will be held there again this year.

For a few years, Rangeview freshmen have attended events called Man Up and Girl Rising. Many sophomores, juniors, and seniors will remember attending Man Up or Girl Rising, one way or another. Some may remember inspiring and personal talks from important members of the school and of the district. Others may remember videos that told stories of how to act, as men or women, to be impactful and effective members of society.

Man Up is focused on teaching males to be positive members of society, in school and in the general world. It teaches them how to act, and provides successful and influential members of our society to share their own stories, in hopes of influencing male students to follow their paths.

Boys from Rangeview’s Class of 2019 answer questions relating to Man Up on paper. Man Up discusses very serious topics that all males should take into consideration when planning for their futures. (Picture provided by Rangeview Website, 2015)

Girl Rising, on the other hand, “shares stories of young women across the globe who face barriers to education that young men do not. Narrated by successful women, including Alicia Keys, Salma Hayek and Meryl Streep, the film (and program) sets out to campaign for change and highlight the power in having an education,” according to the APS website.

In the past, Man Up and Girl Rising have been held toward the beginning of the year, as a way to prepare students for their high school career, especially freshman year, which can be intimidating to some. However, this year, due to a scheduling issue in the district, it will be held this upcoming February.

The facilitators of the events made it very clear that the reason for the reschedule was not anything within the building, but rather that the PLCC (where the events are held) double-booked and had to move Man Up and Girl Rising back.

Girl Rising will be held on Tuesday, February 13th and Man Up will be held on Thursday, February 22nd.

According to Ryan Sladek, the main facilitator of Man Up, “the only real change will be the date. It will be the same program as years prior.”

However, how the date change impacts the outcomes of the events remains to be seen.

Samantha Westerdale, the main facilitator of Girl Rising and social studies teacher, believes that “this will be kind of interesting, because we haven’t done this in a while, at that end of the year; maybe it’s going to be a nice push for quarter three, quarter four, to finish strong.”

Ms. Westerdale has been a part of Girl Rising for a long time, due to her constant enthusiasm for the meeting. She works with many other people to help coordinate the event, including counselors, administrators, members of the district, and members of the community.

“I really love the project,” said Ms. Westerdale. “I love being able to have the opportunity to do this every year, and it’s something to look forward to, even if it is like planning a wedding sometimes, with lots of components and pieces and people involved. It’s worth it.”

Girls from Rangeview’s Class of 2020 listen attentively to a speaker at Girl Rising. Girl Rising is renowned for giving the stage to many people of importance, both in the local society and in the national society. (Picture provided by APS Website, 2016)

One of the facilitators’ favorite parts of the programs is seeing how the students grow and mature following Man Up or Girl Rising. The messages of Man Up vary slightly from those of Girl Rising, especially in presentation and deeper meaning.

Mr. Sladek says that Man Up “helps plant the seed of rethinking how our young men think about themselves and act in everyday life. The freshmen males reflect on who they really want to be as a man, and the male role models help provide templates for being a positive leader.”

Girl Rising focuses on how important education is, especially to girls, so that they may become successful contributors to the way we live. It also provides positive role models, who aim at convincing females of the importance of their involvement in and commitment to their education.

Yet, according to Ms. Westerdale, despite their differences, Man Up and Girl Rising are both “aimed into building and helping to facilitate growth as a teenager, in terms of who we are as Rangeview students, but also in terms of how to reflect on how you’re doing as a student individually.”

To learn more about Girl Rising, click here.

To read about Man Up, click here.