At Kennesaw Charter School, Boys are Awesome but Girls Have No Limits!

Contributed by Michael Donnelly

Friday December 19, 2019 was an amazing day for the students and staff at Kennesaw Charter Science and Math Academy (KCSMA)! It was a day when all students were recognized, but girls were highlighted as everyone participated in some really special activities.

The feature activity of the day was held in the gymnasium. It was a celebration of Ewy Rosqvist, the winner of the Group of girls sitting on the floor behind a line of multi colored cones and a large, orange matchbox trackArgentine Grand Prix car race, a multi-day endurance race around the mountains, deserts, cities, and towns in Argentina. In 1962 Mrs. Rosqvist entered this race despite attempts by the race organizers to exclude her because she was not a man. Over the two day race she managed to gain a two hour lead over her closest opponent and when she crossed the finish line Mrs. Rosqvist brought about a change in the way people (both men and women) viewed the idea of women competing in what had been up until then been considered a “man’s sport”.

Matchbox had made a special edition of Ewy’s Silver Mercedes Benz 220SE Fin-tail including her car  number 711. Our school CEO Mrs. Higgins wrote a grant for this event and obtained enough race cars for each of the girls at KCSMA elementary (about 175 K-5th graders). In addition the school purchased enough toy cars (though not a model of Ewy’s) so that each boy had a car too. The main event was to be a racetrack 5-lanes wide so the students could compete against each other. The track was ringed with flags and car wheels to give it a real “Grand Prix” feeling and look.

Prior to race day the students had a few opportunities to test and tune-up/modify their cars before the race. On race day each grade level class had time put aside to compete against each other on the gravity fueled tracks.Group of girls sitting and standing on a multi-colored floor

Though the competition was taken seriously, and the students cheered each other on, the school had participation ribbons for each and every student racer. Just before each race, students watched an inspiring video documenting Mrs. Rosqvist’s race win with real life photos and videos of her back in 1962 and up to present day. The video ended with a quote from Rosqvist saying “They said I could never finish, so I finished first”. Every woman and girl at KCSMA cheered when they heard her say that!

The student racers had a blast all day long and the refrain “We really get to keep the cars?” was heard and repeated throughout the day. A sign had been made and hung up behind the track that read “Boys are pretty awesome, but Girls Have No Limits”. It was just wonderful to see the message received by all of the students as they competed and there was no denying that the girls were doing just as well as the boys in a play activity that is also considered “a boy thing”. At the end of each racing competition all of the students chanted together the words on the banner “Boys are awesome, but Girls Have No Limits!”

KCSMA would like to send out a heartfelt thank you to Mercedes-Benz, Mattel, and National Girls Collaborative for providing replica cars for all of our girls, and providing additional grant money that allowed us to purchase more die-cast cars for our boys, and race participation ribbons for everyone.

Mr. Michael Donnelly is the STEM Director at Kennesaw Charter and is dedicated to providing a rich and diverse STEM education to K-5 students. In addition to working with students, Mr. Donnelly is the STEM mentor to the faculty providing professional development.  Mr Donnelly is adored by students and their families and appreciated by staff and admin of KCSMA.

NGCP's partnership with Mercedes-Benz USA is tackling the issue of gender stereotypes and showing young girls they can aspire to be and do anything they desire. #GirlsHaveNoLimits. Via NGCP mini-grants, thousands of girls have been gifted a die-cast Matchbox replica of the Mercedes-Benz 220SE commemorating Ewy Rosqvist's historic 1962 Argentinian Grand Prix performance. Learn more about this initiative.