Girls lead De La Salle Institute's student body for 1st time in school's history

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Saturday, March 9, 2024
Girls lead De La Salle Institute student body for 1st time in school's history
Three female students are leading the De La Salle Institute's student body as the school's 'mayors,' a major accomplishment given the school's male dominated history.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For 128 years De La Salle Institute was an all-boys Catholic high school. Now, seven years after integrating, girls are leading the student body for the first time.

Female students were first full integrated into De La Salle in 2017. Now seniors Gabrielle Wilson and Isabel Esterly are two of the three students making history on International Women's Day.

"Girls can speak up too and girls can make changes just like the boys," Wilson said.

"Getting to see three women in power is just so important," said Esterly.

Wilson and Esterly are two of the first three female students to serve as the school's "mayors," a major accomplishment given the male-dominated history.

"A lot of people are still shocked at the fact that we went coed, so when they hear that you guys have all-girl female mayors, it makes it seem like girls are stepping up and showing that we also belong here," said Wilson.

Anne Marie Tirpak is the school's very first female president since the institute opened in 1889.

"I think women are rock stars," she said. "Our school is nearly 50 percent boys and girls."

She said International Women's Day is a time to uplift and encourage her rising female students.

"Be who you are, keep going. Don't let anything hold you back. Celebrate all the gifts you have to bring," she said.

Friday hundreds of De La Salle students packed into the gym to hear from other influential women in the city, like 11th Ward Alderwoman Nicole Lee, the first Asian American in the Chicago City Council.

"It's okay to be vulnerable because it shows people we're human. We don't always have to wear our armor around," she told students. "Representation matters. Why does it matter? Because if you can see it, somebody that looks like you, you can see and be it."

As Wilson and Esterly prepare to graduate, they said their legacy at their high school is just the beginning of what women will continue to accomplish.

"It shows women do have a place everywhere," Esterly said.