A program at Rogers High School is helping empower young women.
It's called SWAG, which stands for Strong Women Achieving Greatness.
Once a week, a group of female Rogers High School students meet for SWAG. The program is led by Jaime Stacy.
On Tuesday, Stacy lead a discussion on Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s new book "Becoming." The hour-long class begins with a conversation on a current event followed by curriculum that is usually based on a book.
“SWAG was birthed out of my passion to mentor young girls, to let them see what success looks like and to create opportunities for them,” Stacy said.
Stacy introduced Rogers’ students to the SWAG program during the 2017-2018 school year after she was asked to do mediation with a group of girls. She said when the mediation was complete she felt, she could do more to help young women navigate their way through school and accomplish their goals.
"There is more that needed to happen, but I knew it was going to require relationships, trust and transparency,” Stacy said.
The group started off small but SWAG quickly outgrew each room they reserved for their classes.
The number of students changes each week. Students who choose to attend SWAG must check-in with their teachers and stay caught up on work and tests.
"Being in SWAG I feel like I can achieve more,” senior Mika Brewer said.
Stacy created a safe space for students to talk about their experiences as young women. They learned how to support and uplift one another. They build self-confidence and accountability.
"I love working with Ms. Stacy. I can talk to her about everything and I know I won't be judged. She knows the pain. She knows the hurt. The connection and bond is different,” sophomore Kaneisha Koss said.
Senior Brooklynn Paul said over time they have built stronger bonds with one another and it feels like a family.
"We were literally fighting. We all hated each other. It's a blessing having Ms. Stacy around she helps us a lot,” Paul said.
Koss said SWAG has given her a voice.
"I used to go the office and complain a lot about people calling me names regarding my skin color and nothing was done about it. I felt like I was in the shadows and I felt like I wasn't important and I wasn't a priority,” Koss said.
Paul said she has felt ostracized by her peers as well.
"They tell me that well I am weak. ‘You're black so you're trash’. And I just say 'you can have your opinion about me’, but I know that I am a strong person.”
Stacy said she wants each of her students to feel valued and empowered.
"I know there's more to be done, but just to know that it's been started. SWAG is just a little seed in their life that has been planted,” Stacy said.
Stacy said she has noticed a change in some of her students. They have been having less behavioral issues at school and their grades have improved.