If you walk down the main hallway of tall, red lockers at Lake Washington Girls Middle School, you may notice that each one has a silver nameplate at its top. These nameplates do not refer to the students whose belongings reside within the lockers. Instead, every locker bears the name of an inspirational woman – such as Ida B. Wells, Rachel Carson, and Elizabeth Blackwell – who reminds our girls of the qualities that reside within each one of them: intelligence, strength, courage, passion, compassion, and the capacity to become anything they dare to dream. As our students grow into young women strong in mind, body, and voice, we make it a point to surround them – quite literally – with strong female role models and change-makers. We lovingly refer to these women as Locker Ladies, a title that is a true badge of honor at LWGMS.
March is Women's History Month, and this year's theme is “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment”. Yesterday, our students kicked off day one of FLEx Week at the Museum of Flight, celebrating Women in Aviation.
And here's to our Locker Lady, Amelia Earhart...
American aviation pioneer and author
Born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897 Amelia Mary Earhart had no idea that she was going to become the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. “By the time I had gotten two or three hundred feet off the ground I knew I had to fly.” Amelia said this on December 28, 1920 when she was in an airplane for the first time with her dad and pilot Frank Hawks.
As a child and adult Amelia was daring; her parents did not raise their two children to be "nice little girls," and Amelia and her sister were thought of as tomboys. Not normal for the times, Amelia aspired to a future career; she kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about successful women in male-oriented fields, including film, law, advertising, management, and engineering.
After her first plane ride in 1920, Amelia got to work saving money for flying lessons in California. On May 15,1923 Amelia Earhart was the 16th woman in the world to get her air license. According to the Boston Globe Amelia Earhart was on of the best women pilots in the world. When she was 30 she was asked to fly across the Atlantic accompanying pilot Wilmer Stultz and co-pilot/mechanic Louis Gordon, really as a passenger, but she was allowed to keep the flight log. When she landed she told the reporter, "Stultz did all the flying—had to. I was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes." She added, "...maybe someday I'll try it alone." Lo behold a few years later, at the age of 34, on May 20, 1932 Amelia became first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic and for her bravery was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French Government and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover.
Between 1930–1935, Earhart had set seven women's speed and distance records, became good friends with Eleanor Roosevelt – the two shared interests and passions, especially women's causes – but her eyes were on a new "prize...one flight which I most wanted to attempt – a circumnavigation of the globe as near its waistline as could be." She attempted this flight two times – the first time was successful because of mechanical failures and though she flew a lot farther the second time – 22,000 of the 29,000 miles – she disappeared without a trace. Amelia was a brave women and a mentor to all girls.