A Tradition of Sisterhood

By Ainsley Skipper '21

Throughout my time at St. Mary’s, as an only child, I always thought of my 73 classmates as sisters. However, no tradition made me feel as much a part of the sisterhood as the flower girl and senior pairing for graduation.

During my Senior Kindergarten year in 2008-2009, I was beyond excited when I heard that we would get to be flower girls for the “big girls” across the street. Luckily, those in charge of the pairing knew which senior would be a great “big sister” to me, Kathryn Waggoner Edwards ’09.

Kathryn and I hit it off immediately. Even as an awkward introvert, I felt comfortable around her and her whole family—because the Waggoners were a package deal. I quickly got to know dad, Bob, and mom, Julia, who always hosted the best flower girl “playdates,” and Kathryn’s sisters, St. Mary’s girls Lizzie ’16 and Susan ’11 Waggoner.

The Waggoners knew St. Mary’s inside and out. For example, at Kathryn’s graduation, we arrived early and danced on the Holy Communion steps because Kathryn said we might get photographed for St. Mary’s Magazine. Sure enough, a picture with Kathryn—lace dresses, flower crowns, and all—was the first time I graced the pages of this publication.
Even after Kathryn left to attend Texas Christian University, I got the benefits of being a bonus Waggoner daughter. Julia invited me over to bake and do crafts, and Susan and Lizzie were my go-to sources of advice as I went through Lower and Middle School. Being Kathryn’s flower girl didn’t give me one “big sister;” it gave me three.

Kathryn and I still saw each other whenever she could come home and visit. Eventually, those visits included Pearce Edwards, whom Kathryn married in 2015. My parents and I were there for that, too.

Fast forward to my senior year in 2021-2022, a non-traditional school year, to say the least, where I got to continue this beloved tradition. Though we only met at the beginning of the spring semester, I still got matched with my very own flower girl, Hattie Logan. Hattie and I were a match made in heaven. My parents say that she reminds them of me at that age.

After a semester of baking cookies, swinging, and playing Tenzi, Hattie and I were ready for graduation, and my “little sister” got to meet my “big sisters” at a graduation party the Waggoners hosted for me. The flower girl tradition had come full circle.

The flower girl/senior tradition is critical to the culture of St. Mary’s. This very tradition creates connections across grades, campuses, and families. We all learn that we have a place in the larger St. Mary’s family. Anyone who cherishes this opportunity, like Kathryn and me, can create friendships that last a lifetime.

Ansley Skipper ’21 is a Jefferson Scholar studying politics and history at the University of Virginia. She also works in political communications in Washington, D.C.


175 Years of St. Mary's

This story is part of our 175 Years of St. Mary's series. For 175 years, the mission of St. Mary’s Episcopal School has been to provide a superior educational experience for girls. Our robust academics, Episcopal identity, and rich traditions create an environment where girls flourish as students, athletes, creators, performers, and more. Most importantly, at St. Mary’s, integrity, compassion, and confidence are the norm for our girls. From Chapel to the PE class, alumnae reflect on the experiences and traditions that have made St. Mary’s a special place for girls to learn and thrive for 175 years. Click below to read the other stories in the series.

  • All-School
  • Alumnae
  • Early Childhood
  • Upper School

Additional Images

Kathryn Waggoner Edwards ’09 and Ansley Skipper ’21 (left), joined by fellow flower girl Mary Claire Hamm, danced on the steps of the Chapel and were featured in the 2009 summer issue of St. Mary’s Magazine.

Ansley Skipper ’21, “big sister” Kathryn Waggoner Edwards ’09, and flower girl Hattie Logan celebrate Ansley’s graduation.

One of the longest-standing traditions at St. Mary's is the pairing of a senior and her flower girl.

Flower girls meet their seniors early in the school year and form a special bond before graduation.

Ansley Skipper ’21 is a Jefferson Scholar studying politics and history at the University of Virginia. She also works in political communications in Washington, D.C.