Archer faculty, staff, students and parents celebrate the opening of the Diana Meehan Center on April 13. Photos: Courtesy.

Opening of the Diana Meehan Center

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By Staff Writer

The Archer School for Girls celebrated the grand opening of its new Academic Center April 13, further delivering on its mission to empower future female leaders in an environment specifically created for their success.

The event included addresses from Archer’s Head of School Elizabeth English, Co-Founder Dr. Diana Meehan, Board Chair Frank Marshall, and Archer alumna and Trustee Lauren Finkelstein. Lead donors Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall named the new building in honor of Archer Co-Founder Dr. Diana Meehan. The opening of the Diana Meehan Center ushers in a new era for Archer and secures the School’s mission for generations of girls to come. To date, Archer has raised 93 percent of its $35 million goal for the Campaign for Archer.

“Thanks to Archer’s early and passionate supporters, the iconic Eastern Star Home for Women became the School’s permanent home in 1999,” Head of School Elizabeth English said. “Being the steward of one of L.A.’s most stunning, historic buildings is a responsibility Archer takes seriously. Inspired by the myth of Artemis, the Archer, protector of girls and goddess of the hunt, our architects at Parallax and Associates designed the new Academic Center with Archer’s mission firmly in mind. While the design provides an elegant counterpart to our cherished historic building, it also signals to our students and our community that the empowerment of girls and women is critically important work for Los Angeles, our nation, and the world.”

The Diana Meehan Center features spaces that are flexible and light-filled, creating an ongoing dialogue between indoors and out. The new building comprises over 30 state-of-the-art classrooms, a new kitchen and servery, student center, and courtyards. The Amphitheater Courtyard features second-floor balcony access and a large central staircase that doubles as amphitheatre-style seating. The East Courtyard is overlooked by glass-walled collaborative classrooms with double doors that open into the courtyard for flexible use. Sweeping views from the second floor reveal a deeply thoughtful integration with the School’s historic building.

The Diana Meehan Center.

In its short history, Archer has already redefined what innovative learning can accomplish. Grounded in a commitment to diversity and inclusion, nearly 500 students come from 73 zip codes and 141 different feeder schools across Greater Los Angeles, with 42 percent students of color. Even as a young school, Archer awards nearly $4 million in financial aid annually. Thirty percent of Archer’s Class of 2018 is majoring in STEM, compared to 15 percent of female first-year college students intending to major in STEM, according to AAUW. In the last school year, the School’s Varsity teams won five league championships, with the Volleyball team also winning its first CIF-SS division championship in school history. The Oracle, Archer’s online student newspaper, consistently has been awarded the Online Pacemaker, the high school equivalent of the Pulitzer for journalism.

Despite the strides that Archer is making, their work toward gender parity is not done. At the current rate, the global gender gap will still take 108 years to close, and economic gender parity remains 202 years off, according to the World Economic Forum. ROX reports that 46 percent of high school girls do not believe they are smart enough for their dream career; 80 percent report that males their age are not respectful of them; 76 percent believe most girls are in competition with one another; and yet 61 percent of girls say they like to be in charge. Yet while less than 1 percent of women are graduates of girls schools, girls school alumnae have comprised up to 25 percent of the female members of Congress, hold one-third of Fortune 500 board seats, and account for 69 percent of female heads of state worldwide, according to the National Coalition of Girls Schools. Girls schools provide the prime environment for the empowerment of women, and Archer continues to lead the way.

“Archer’s visionary stance at the forefront of education provides real inspiration and meaningful results not only for the students but for the entire community,” Archer Board Chair Frank Marshall said. “The Diana Meehan Center is an incredible milestone and I am honored to be a part of it.”

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