Spire and Co in the Tribune!

"A women's empowerment group at Pine-Richland High School — whose mission is to bring girls from all walks of life together — has grown exponentially in its second year.Spire & Co grew from eight members in its first year to more than 100 this year. The group brings girls in grades 9 to 12 together in an inclusive, noncompetitive way for discussions, social events and community service projects, said club President Hailey West. 

“This club gives them a space to be themselves,” West said. “It's kind of home base for everyone.” 

The group was founded last year by recent Pine-Richland graduate Gabby Katz, said club sponsor and high school math teacher Michelle Switala. They began meeting at local coffee shops to have discussions. 

This year a group of girls wanted to continue the social aspect and expand to help women in the community as well, she said. 

“Clearly there's a huge need for girls to get together with other girls in a fun, not catty way… and have a purpose too,” Switala said. 

Led by West, junior Kathryn Kolski, club vice president, and sophomore Lauren Rock, club secretary, the group garnered 150 sign-ups earlier in the school year. 

Spire & Co began as an online magazine covering topics for young women — everything from style to finance to fitness. It expanded offline to allow universities and schools to create Spire & Co chapters to bring women together in person. 

Pine-Richland's chapter is the first high school chapter, said Spire & Co founder Emily Raleigh. Most chapters exist at college campuses. 

West said monthly seminar meetings provide information and members discuss different topics, social gatherings and service opportunities. 

About 50 to 60 girls attend the monthly meetings. 

West, Kolski and Rock wanted to expand the club's activities, so they began focusing on several areas of interest like nutrition and wellness, beauty and fashion and lifestyle. 

On Jan. 23 they met for an after-school Zumba dance class led by Pine-Richland student Evan Schleicher. They recently volunteered at Diva Weekend at The Woodlands, where girls and women ages 8 to 29 with disabilities received makeovers, fashion headshots and runway coaching. 

Kolski said they plan to collect feminine products for SisterFriend, a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to providing homeless and underprivileged women and girls with feminine care products. They also plan to volunteer with Treasure House Fashions, a resale shop offering affordable clothing to women in need. 

Above all, they want their club members to be comfortable, make friends and have fun regardless of what events they attend, the group leaders said. 

“It's a club you can be yourself in. You don't have to worry about being pretty enough or athletic enough,” Rock said. 

For more information on the club and to keep up with club events, visit www.pinerichland.org/Domain/1067 or visit it on social media at @prspireandco."

Written by Rachel Farkas
Link to web article: http://triblive.com/local/northhills/11841020-74/club-group-girls