WC senior inspired to revive school tradition for high school girls
Earlier this year, Worthington Christian senior Mai Joy Williams began praying about ways to bring the girls in her graduating class together in a unified way in their last year of high school. Through her prayers, God brought to Williams’ mind a meaningful experience she had as an incoming freshman four years ago. At that time, she was preparing to enter WC as a brand-new student with no known friends or acquaintances at the school. She was invited to an event for freshman and senior girls at WC called “Big Sis, Lil Sis,” and in an effort to meet people she attended. She remembers being greeted by a senior who approached her at the event and said, “Hi, I’m your ‘Big Sis.’” After attending this event, Williams recalls feeling more comfortable and connected to her peers and even some of the senior girls.
What Williams did not know at that time was that the Big Sis, Lil Sis program was a standing tradition at WC. In 2005, senior girls hosted a “Welcome Freshman Overnight” event to connect with and mentor freshman girls. Led by long-time WC faculty member Cathy Fischer, a group of 20 older high school girls warmly welcomed twenty incoming freshman girls for an evening of games, prayer, worship, and lots of laughs. The program has continued to grow over the years since then, and Mrs. Fischer invited WC parent and alumna Alicia Kraynak to join her in leading it in recent years. As with so many things, “Big Sis, Lil Sis” was put on hold in the 2020-21 school year and had not been resumed.
Inspired to revive “Big Sis, Lil Sis” in her senior year as an answer to prayers for bringing her class together, Williams reached out to a few of her peers about the idea. Each of her peers shared fond memories of their own freshman experience and expressed support for Williams’ desire to bring it back. She approached Mrs. Kraynak to share her prayers and hopes for her senior year and inquired about bringing back the “Big Sis, Lil Sis” event. Mrs. Kraynak’s response to Williams’ idea was, “I have been praying about this!” Williams knew at that moment, “Both of our prayers were answered.”
With support from Mrs. Kraynak and WC’s freshman English teacher Mrs. Abby Palmer, Williams and her senior peers began planning an evening that would be as memorable as their own “Big Sis, Lil Sis” experience. They held meetings and decided upon many of the activities they remembered: singing at a karaoke station, playing volleyball, making friendship bracelets and painting nails, seniors sharing their testimonies, engaging in group worship time, and, of course, enjoying a meal together. Although she was initially nervous about planning such a special event, Williams explains that all of her apprehension dissipated as the day of the event arrived and it all went so smoothly. With two-thirds of WC’s senior and freshman girls present, there was a great turnout. Mrs. Kraynak asserts, “The senior girls went above and beyond in planning this event and hosting it for their younger classmates. Every girl in attendance participated and was engaged.” Palmer says of the event, “I am so excited to see the seniors jump in, wholeheartedly, to invest in the lives of the freshmen. At the event, they made the girls feel welcome and included, and they shared such wise, tangible insights about social media, prayer, anxiety, friendship, and schoolwork. Watching them all laugh, dance, pray and worship together reminded me of what an awesome opportunity we have, at WC, to mentor and disciple, not just between teachers and students, but between older students and younger students as well.”
Grace Johnson has attended WC since Kindergarten but explains that as an incoming freshman this year, “I always felt like I was different from the senior girls because of the age difference and I felt like we weren’t at all alike. After the Big Sis, Lil Sis event, I can see that we are more alike than I thought and they were all so sweet and kind…they did a great job of including all of us [freshman girls], and they made us feel welcome.” Johnson’s takeaway echoes one of Mrs. Kraynak’s goals for the program. She explains, “I hope that the girls are able to see that they have much more in common than they realize.” Mrs. Kraynak also hopes that gathering older and younger girls together will provide both groups with a comforting familiarity and serve to strengthen the sense of community at the school. They hope to host additional events throughout the school year to foster their connectedness.