2019-2020 All-school candidates speeches

Candidates were asked to answer three questions: 1. Why would you be a good candidate for this position? 2. How have you contributed to the Hackley Community? 3. What are your goals if elected to this position?

All School Candidates for President

James DiStefano
I feel that I could represent a part of the community not represented before.

I have taken part on multiple teams and have blessed the community with memes and candyness. As the Candy Man, as I am called, I have consistently tried to brighten up the days of those around me and make the world taste good.

Making changes. Big changes. I feel that I can bring epic gamer moments to the community and make play of the game on a multitude of occasions. My performance will SMASH (ultimate) the expectations of the people whom I hope to serve.

Taylor Robin
I think I would be a good candidate for this position because, first, I have had the wonderful
opportunity to be on council for three years now. Therefore, I have been able to grow and mature as a person, and as a leader as well. This experience has provided me with the know-how of how community council operates. Therefore, I will give you no surprises or empty promises, because I know exactly what can and cannot be done within our community due to my years of experience. The second reason I think I am a good candidate for this position is because of one simple word: passion. I have put countless hours into putting my efforts into advertising for events, such as snowball or our dearly missed haunted house, or staying late at night making sure our rehearsals run smoothly for field fest. I cannot even put into words how much it means to me that my grade trusted me to be the leader I know I can be, as well as embody the voice of the students. Now, I am ready to take that one step further and fight for the whole student body. Not only am I passionate about council events in general, but on the more humanitarian aspect of it all, I am incredibly passionate about advocating for others. And I think this skill becomes very important when it comes to voicing the ideas of the students. When advocating for others, I have made it my mission to always speak up for what I believe in, and while that may get me into trouble sometimes, I think the end result is always worth it. I have had the extraordinary opportunity to work with the faculty and administration numerous times, to discuss all sorts of topics, including diversity and in inclusion, or the house system. And, I don’t do what I do so I can put it on some list for future use, I do it because I am a fighter, and I will not only fight for myself and what I believe in, but I will fight for the student body as well, making sure every voice, that has an opinion is heard.

One way in which I have contributed to the Hackley Community would definitely be, first and foremost, residing on community council for the last 3 years. It has certainly taken a large chunk of my time during the week, but I would honestly not have it any other way, and I am incredibly grateful that I have been able to help plan events such as, snowball (and of course I was part of the decoration committee!), field fest, and field day activities as well. However, council is not simply the large events that we hold throughout the year. I have also contributed to the community by simply sitting in the grille room, selling (more like badgering) people to buy parking raffle tickets. And while this is not the most glamorous part of the job, I definitely enjoy every piece of the experience. Additionally, I created, designed, and purchased (with council funds of course) the Hackley phone pockets that I hope everyone is sporting at the moment. Another way I have contributed to the Hackley community includes my work as a UNITY officer. This club is possibly one of the most important contributions I feel I have made at Hackley School. To be more specific, I have been a UNITY justice going on my third year now, and I, along with my lovely partners, plan and coordinate meetings ranging from cultural appropriation to slam poetry, to Black History Month game nights that I am certainly way too competitive in. However, working to create a great sense of diversity and inclusion within the Hackley Community has certainly given me a different set of tools that I can and will utilize within community council as well, because council is not only here to plan fun events, we are also here to unify the student body, and that is certainly a goal that I will work towards. Another contribution I have made to the community that I am proud of is my involvement with Hudson Scholars. And while I am not a leader of this organization, however, I commend all the students and Mr. Sykes who work tirelessly to make the magic happen, I have had the privilege to work with these kids and mentor them from the summer before my sophomore year to the present. Honestly, I don’t know who learns more from each other: the students or the mentors. What I
took away from my experience from Hudson scholars, is that everyone, both children and adults, needs a support system in order to strive for excellence. And I plan to be a part of that support system for the student body. And I know it may sound repetitive to restate, but that just speaks to the importance of why having student voices heard is absolutely vital to our community. Lastly, but certainly not the end to my involvement within Hackley School, I have contributed to the community by working with the administration to have more frequent and involved conversations about diversity and inclusion within our Hackley walls. While this is certainly a new contribution, it is still all the more valuable, to have the opportunity to discuss how to better our community. I, along with my remarkable team that accompanied me at SDLC, have worked with the middle school faculty to open up more conversations about character development within our community. This included training them to see “how diverse is your universe.” And this is something we plan to do within the Upper school faculty as well. While this is not everything, this is not the end of my attempts to make a difference within our community, and I hope you all trust me to do the best I can if I were to be elected president.

If elected to this position, one of my goals would definitely be further expanding our house system to make it more integrated within our Hackley community. I have seen it grow from simply an idea to a full-fledged system that is new to our campus. However, I think having more opportunities to participate in both big and small competitions is crucial in order to keep it a part of the student body. Therefore, I think having mini competitions during well-attended events such as coffeehouse, or sting events. Another goal of mine would be to blend two of my many passions: diversity and inclusion and community council. One idea that I along with the senior Anna Sellon thought of, would be to utilize one the ex-days (since we now have two) and make it this cultural day similar to around the world day in the lower school. But, this could be an opportunity for students, faculty, possibly parents as well to showcase their different cultures and have students take part in celebrating different cultures from around the world. I would absolutely jump at the chance to help execute a day like that, and hopefully, I will get that opportunity. Lastly, one goal, I think, is crucial to the Hackley community would be to have more transparency between the council members and the rest of the Hackley community. Because, sadly, I have heard the question come before of, “so what exactly does council do?” In short, a lot. But, I want to work towards a more transparent council, where students are more aware of the on-goings of council, to have more opportunities to hear student voices. I cannot stress enough how open I am and will be to new perspectives and Ideas that will make our Hackley experience all the more valuable.


All School Candidates for Vice-President

Emily Afriyie

I think that I would be a good candidate for Vice President because I have had experience on
council for the past 2 years and most importantly during that time, I have learned ways to help the community and I have learned the importance of working with a group of people to
accomplish a task that everyone can enjoy. I have dedicated time to Council’s many events and I love to help participate and be a part of these many events throughout the year. During my time on Council, I have heard some concerns from my grade and I always try to address them in a timely fashion to the people who can best help us settle those concerns and I find that that approach can usually be helpful. I would be ready and willing to represent the student body in the best possible way that I can.

I have contributed to the Hackley Community as a member of a few different sports teams
namely the tennis team in the fall and the indoor and outdoor track teams in the winter and
spring. I have also been grade representative for the past two years.

My goals, if elected, would be to encourage spirit at sporting events like the Stings but also at
performing arts events like plays and orchestra concerts. I think we all can benefit from
supporting our classmates in those different areas. I would like to increase unity between the student body and the council. I think steps towards that have been forged this year with the creation of a suggestion box but I also think it would great to encourage students to attend open council meetings if they feel they want more transparency within the Council or making some of our ongoing ideas public so the student body can be able to approach their respective representatives to acknowledge the fact that they like or do not something. I would like to see the House system becoming more popular amongst the student body because I do think it can become the source of some great events but the key with accomplishing that is getting students to be open with us on where they feel we can improve. I’m looking forward to seeing the ways in which we can grow as a community and accomplish some very great things.

Kireeti Josyula

The Vice President plays an extremely critical role in the Community Council by communicating with the student body, meeting with teachers to help organize school-wide events, and supporting the President and the community. Such a role requires a student who is dedicated and is ready to take on the responsibility of serving the community. I believe I have what it takes to fill such a position. As a grade representative on the Council over the past year, I have both seen and supported the crucial role the Community Council plays in organizing events and activities that bring the student body together. My goal is to find ways in which I can continue to contribute back to a community that has helped provide me with so much over the years. If I have the opportunity to serve the community as Vice President next year, my passion and love for the Hackley community will allow me to effectively serve the Hackley community with the best and most responsible of intentions. Further, during my years at Hackley, I have developed a strong sense of sincerity, integrity, and loyalty, that will stand me in good stead in serving the Hackley community.

This year, I served on the Community Council as a grade officer for the Junior class. At my first Council meeting, I learnt that “there is a difference between being a council member and being an effective council member.” Being effective, for me, has meant finding all possible ways to distill and support the best ideas and proposals. Even though I have not been able to implement some of my own ideas, I participated in all Council meetings and have worked hard to ensure that the events and activities agreed upon by the Council are executed successfully. Some examples include contacting and setting-up judges for the Advisory Fashion Show, organizing – a rather unsuccessful – apple bobbing contest, and helping set up / take down bigger community events such as Snowball. I have found that, while I have not been able to implement my own ideas, my contributions in terms of putting my shoulder to the wheel have created enjoyable experiences for the Hackley community.

If I get an opportunity to serve as Vice President of Community Council next year, I will ensure that there is ongoing communication between the student body and the Council in terms of planning and executing school-wide events. I will continue to ensure that polls are taken (using Google Forms, for instance), to get a better understanding of the student body’s needs, which will help the Council and me better serve the community. In addition, I will continue to make sure that successful events from past years, such as Snowball, The Advisory Fashion Show, and fun activities at Field Day, continue to expand into the next year. These events are really important for unifying the student body, and I will ensure that such events can become much more varied and inclusive in the options offered to every student. Lastly, I want to ensure that every student has the ability to express themselves freely. I would like to help organize spaces and areas that – obviously optional – help to provide students with a space to express their creativity and interests outside the conventional classroom, during universal frees or community times. My major goal, if elected to Vice President of the Community Council, is to help maintain
the structure, unity, and spirit of the Hackley student body.

Ben Marra
I would be a good candidate for this position because I am good in a support role and I am a hard worker. I love Community Council and I already understand how it works, what its limitations are, and where it can improve. I’m also a creative guy and I get excited about things like events, initiatives, etc.

I have contributed to the Hackley Community in two council roles in the past. In both, I was accountable and diligent, and helped plan and carry out some old traditions, as well as a few new ones. I also had a perfect attendance record, and was singled out by the president at the time as “one of the few who actually does anything I ask them to do.” I am also in a leadership role in the Hudson Scholars program, helping to support the program in growing as fast as it has. I am a friendly face in the hallway, and I think people know me that way.

If elected, I would support the elected President in their various duties, making sure that all burden of Council work does not fall on completely on them, as sometimes happens. I would also like to try and inspire more interest in the new house system with house-bonding activities, prizes, and shirts like the middle school does. A big thing for me would be creating a more organized way to divide up work on council, and making sure to hold everybody accountable for their responsibilities, down to the lowliest freshman. I think added efficiency would enable council to run more events more effectively.

All School Candidates for Secretary-Treasurer

Emmy Wenstrup (Running unopposed)
I would be a good candidate for this position because I am dedicated and organized. The role of the secretary-treasurer is to be responsible for the Council’s finances as well as maintain notes for every meeting. I would be good at the former because, as an active Council member and regular attendee of Council fundraisers, I am extremely aware of things that Council has going on. Because I am so involved, I could keep track of the financial health of the Council and advise the officers. In terms of note-keeping, I design my class notes in a way that makes it easy for me to create summaries of lessons, units, etc. According to the description for the job of secretary-treasurer, one responsibility is to “distribute a meeting summary to the council.” My note-taking style makes me an excellent candidate to fulfill this job. In addition, I have a bizarre passion for spreadsheet organization – a passion perfect for secretary-treasurer.

I have contributed to the Hackley Community as a community council member for the past two years. In addition, I have served as a club leader and mentor to the Hudson Scholars – a group I personally consider part of the Hackley Community – and as a leader on the Hackley Earth Action League. On Council, I have worked hard to make every council event enjoyable and productive. For example, at this year’s Snowball, I helped set up decorations in the morning and afternoon, take them down afterward, and worked as the photographer for the duration of the event. In addition, I can regularly be seen working in the grille room to promote Council Fundraisers, such as the parking raffle. I also co-authored the guidelines for the House Crest competition, something I am quite excited to see the results of. Overall, I am very passionate about the success of Council and have put in time and effort to support it.

Many council nominees have preached of more Council transparency, but have failed to do so. I realize that if I, too, say that my goal is to make Council more accessible, it would sound like another empty promise. However, if elected, I would genuinely try to distribute Council updates to the student body. In reading the description for the roles of secretary-treasurer, I noticed that one of the jobs is to do exactly this, and I would hope to follow through on that. In my freshman year, I would get an email about once a week (if I remember correctly) from Council outlining what they were doing. I would hope to bring this back, as I have begun to think about earlier this year. Further, I would post updates to the Community Council HOL page to further update the student body. As a Council member, I regularly get asked what Council actually does. If elected as secretary-treasurer, I would want to make this clear. Another goal of mine is to further promote the current House system. In summary, my goal, if I were to become secretary-treasurer, is to fulfill the roles outlined in the description. This includes additional transparency, and with that comes increasing public opinion of the Council.