Western High School

Western High School Foundation will present Western High School’s 175th Anniversary “Shine the Light” Gala on Thursday April 29, 2021 at 7:00 p.m to honor America’s oldest all-girl public high school and its shining legacy which has inspired women since 1844. (Right); Headliner of the event, Anna Deavere Smith, Western alum, NYU professor and star of stage and television, producer of Broadway hit “Notes from the Field” donated her appearance and conducted a revealing roundtable with five current Western students about fulfilling their dreams in challenging times. (Left): Espi Frazier, acclaimed Baltimore artist’s Red Queen Wall Hanging will be auctioned beginning April 22th through midnight of the Gala evening April 29th.

Western High School Foundation will present Western High School’s 175th Anniversary “Shine the Light” Gala on Thursday April 29, 2021 at 7:00 p.m to honor America’s oldest all-girl public high school and its shining legacy which has inspired women since 1844.

The celebration will uplift the spirit of equity and unity embodied by Western today and throughout its history— notable graduates, bold alumnae, current school leaders, faculty and young women. Admission is free. To sign up for the event, please visit westernhighcelebration.com and simply click the register button.

Western officially commemorated its 175th anniversary on November 1, 2019 and planned a festive celebration in 2020. The pandemic necessitated revamping the event entirely. Even though the school reached its 176th year last fall and is celebrating virtually, the event is generating more excitement and can now reach alums and advocates across the nation.

Headlining the “Shine the Light” virtual party is award-winning actress, playwright, director and scholar, Anna Deavere Smith (WHS 19). The event will showcase a piece from her acclaimed Broadway show “Notes from the Field” and her candid conversation with current Western students about their lives, challenges and dreams. Baltimoreans are proud of Smith’s local roots and worldwide achievement.

She founded and directs the Institute of the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University, is a MacArthur “genius” fellow and was presented the National Humanities Medal by President Obama. Her television roles on “The West Wing,” “ Nurse Jackie” and “Blackish “have added to her national visibility.

Admission is free to provide inclusive uplift to everyone, including all city students and their families, alumnae near and far. The event will provide many opportunities to make donations to support and advance Western girls now and in the future. Christine McKee WHS 1974 and Lee Kappelman WHS 1972 are the Gala co-chairs, and they promise an entertaining evening of song, drama, art, and inspiration.

“Shine the Light” will begin with Principal Michelle White who will introduce the evening’s other leading ladies. She is honored to welcome Gala Honorary Co-chair, Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, long-serving state superintendent of schools and current scholar in residence at Towson University, and very special guest Dr. Carla Hayden, the nation’s first African American and first woman to serve as Librarian of Congress and beloved former head of Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The extraordinary artist, Espi Frazier will be interviewed and show her 35 x 15 inch Red Queen Wall Hanging to be auctioned the week prior and the evening of the event. As well Frazier’s one-of-a-kind vivid crochet shawl will be raffled via the celebration website. All proceeds benefit the Western High School Foundation’s initiatives to advance the academics and distinctions of the school and are tax-deductible.

Other event components include a mocktail/cocktail demonstration by beloved Downtown Kevin Brown, co-owner of Station North Arts Café, and Baltimore’s fabulous fashionista Caprece Jackson — both dressed “Bridgerton” style. Registrants who donate $175 or more can receive a thank you gift of party tote bags including fun-enhancing surprises – loaded with delectable goodies, commemorative flutes and candles, selfie-wear, party jewelry, Octavia gift certificates, recipes and song lyrics.

The true stars of the evening will be current Western students who, under difficult covid conditions, will sing three touching songs beloved by alumnae. Their performance was pre-recorded with individual solos which will be mixed for a chorus effect. Attendees are invited to sing along at home.

Why Western, why now? It’s not only to do with our anniversary and our legacy. It is about our entire nation right now, reckoning with issues of racial, gender, and economic equity. These challenges plus the reality of poverty experienced by over half of Western’s students are our “why.” Western High School represents justice in action, on a daily basis, nurturing young women to achieve their individual bests. Western High School Foundation is determined to support growing excellence for the school and its determined, enthusiastic students.

Western’s motto “We receive light, let us give light” is more important today than in 1844. Western High School is the right place, at the right time to focus our attention and resources. We hope you will come April 29th to hear our girls’ stories, learn about Western High School’s brightening future ahead, and have a wonderful time! Bring your friends and family!

For information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/westernhighschoolbaltimore

The 14th Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden.

Dr. Carla Hayden, Shine the Light Special Guest, 14th Librarian of Con- gress. She says she is proud to live in a city with a fine school such as West- ern developing young women leaders. Courtesy Photo

Luwanda Jenkins

Luwanda Jenkins, Western alum, Sen- ior Government Relations Associate of Bellamy Genn Group and Vice Presi- dent of the new Western High School Foundation, Inc. She was the key driver in establishing the Foundation to keep Western’s legacy bright. Courtesy photo