Community Council Campaign Speeches

Each candidate prepared a speech that addressed the following questions: What position are you running for? Why would you be a good candidate for this position? How have you contributed to the Hackley Community? What are your goals if elected to this position? Videos of the speeches will be shown during Community Time on Wednesday, 4/21/2021

April 15, 2021


Candidates for President

Daniel Cai

“Far and away the best prize life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Last spring, I began my bid as Vice President of Community Council with a Tolstoy quote about changing oneself as the only way to change the world. A year and 7 new strands of white hair later (presumably from hard work), it’s only appropriate that I begin this year’s bid with a quote that has been near and dear to my heart for a long time. (You can trust me on this. The quote has been on my FaceBook profile for years unchanged)

Before I dive into why I think I’m the right person for the job, I’d like to take a second to tell you the story behind my bid for president this year.

Quick confession, I have never been the popular kid at school, nor am I one at Hackley. I’ve spent 3 years in student government prior to coming to Hackley and have witnessed multiple elections where popularity beats out rhetoric. Those close to me can attest to how lacking I am in charisma as an individual. In other words, I only really had two things: a plan and a willingness to work hard. Furthermore, I was a newcomer to Hackley and the country. That’s why it came as such a surprise that you elected me as your VP. Since I was never given an opportunity to do so earlier in the year, I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude for electing me. Win or lose this election, you have granted me a rare opportunity in life that I am incredibly thankful for.

Immediately upon winning the election (I kid you not the day when the results were announced), I was asked whether I was going to run for president this year. I knew why they asked. There is a single driving force behind almost any bid for executive council positions: college. I am not going to lie, when I chose to run for VP it was also partially due to this reason. But this motivation is problematic – without anyone keeping you in check to do what you said you would do, you will do none of it. I was aware of the issue. Hence, I made one of two vows I ever made in my life: I wasn’t going to run for re-election unless I felt absolutely comfortable in the work I promised I’d do. (*You’re welcome to fact check me on this throughout the year my friends, and pretty much anyone who had expressed to me that they were going to run for president, had asked me whether I was going to run, and up until very recently the answer was still: “probably.”)

Beyond this vow, I also witnessed something peculiar on council this year: the senior council members who had no incentive to do anything, not bound by re-election, were the most enthusiastic and hardworking out of the entire organization. From them, I learned the importance of having a pure motivation in servicing the community is perhaps the singular most powerful weapon to get things done.

So, this year, I believe I’m not only ethically bound to say, but also owe every one of you a statement on my intentions: I am running for president only to serve the community.

To many of you, this might be hard to believe. But I am sincere. Though I personally think I accomplished plenty as Vice President this year, it took me a year to learn the importance of the pure intent and the true meaning behind Roosevelt’s wise words. Community council can only run off the back of those who care and love their work. When you make it to the voting booth this year, even if you choose not to elect me, I hope this bit of wisdom from Roosevelt stays with you, to elect those who hope to serve the community, and only to serve the community.

Last year, I promised you all nothing except for hard work to get the things we wanted to do done. This year, I stand before you, a year older and a year wiser, to ask for your vote again as someone who has grown to love the Hackley community, who is running to serve the community and not for his own self-interest, and the same hard work.

7 new strands of white hair is the goal. (will be from hard work for sure)

Last year when asked how I contributed to the Hackley Community, it was nearly empty. This year, fortunately, it’s a different story.

Let’s start with the bigger goals I was able to achieve and contribute to the Hackley Community. During the last election, I outlined six plans. I promised to work my hardest to achieve these ambitious goals and I am pretty happy with the results. Although, there is definitely more work to be done. Here are all the actions I took to accomplish them:

  1. Changing the House System

I had been a part of the discussion of bolstering the House infrastructure this year. We have created numerous events which rewards house points (a system developed by council’s executive members), and brainstormed more for the future. We will create a team of house leaders towards the end of this academic year to help continue our work on the development of the house system.

  1. Integrating new students better

This is the only goal that I have not been able to achieve. It is completely my fault that this goal has not been achieved over the last academic year, and if re-elected, I will try my hardest to continue working towards this goal.

  1. Improving extracurricular activities

I helped inform and increase access to not only monetary funding but also manpower that certain clubs require. I also helped organize the second club fair to revive interest in clubs which has been waning due to the pandemic. One problem constantly reported was the lack of a set schedule for club meetings. We now have a set schedule and I update club leaders of the next club meeting time every week. Between now and the end of the year, I will push for a potential afternoon meeting space for clubs that would have more consistent meeting times.

  1. Raising money for council

I promised to get Hackley’s Parents Association (HPA) to partially fund council and now council is partially funded by HPA! Funding has been less of an issue overall for Community Council this past year and given the smaller volume of people participating in the parking raffle, this has been crucial to council’s operation.

  1. Improving council’s accessibility and transparency

I have taken a few steps to accomplish this. Firstly, we have had consistent Schoology announcements throughout the year with a new update every single week. If you see the notification from council pop up every week, that was me! Secondly, given most people never check Schoology’s updates, we began sending these notes via email so that more people could know what council has been up to so that council can be held more responsible. Thirdly, we have included announcements that other clubs want to announce in these messages as a way to support them. Lastly, I have hosted an info session for people to contribute ideas to council and understand the work that we had done. There will be one more info session that I host towards the end of the year.

  1. Fixing council’s logistical issues.

I came up with the idea to reform how council runs on a day-to-day basis. Instead of council working on a single project as it has traditionally always done, council today breaks into multiple small teams that try to accomplish a single goal. This has resulted in a significant increase in fun events we were able to plan and deliver out for you and what Mr. McLay calls: “one of the most proactive years for community council in its history.”

Beyond the action I’ve taken to fulfill these bigger goals, I’ve also been working behind the scenes for several Community Council projects such as the Trivia Contest, spirit week events, House flag design contest, Sandwich making, etc. I have also tried to preserve a sense of normalcy in this strange year by pushing for the preservation as much as our school traditions as possible, as well as championing access by inviting numerous members outside of community council to join our meetings and offer their perspective. I have also been the person facilitating and pushing the progress of nearly every single event council has brought you this year.

Away from council, I am an active member of the boarding community, swim team, ethics bowl team, and debate team. I run the Model UN program along with Zack Couzens.

In my speech last year, I was intentionally careful about the things I would promise. I understand making promises you can’t keep is worse than making no promises. Consequently, I promised only one thing: hard work. This year, after gauging the number of things I could realistically achieve, I feel comfortable promising a few things. As seen in the results I have produced in working towards the goals I have promised, I am perhaps the only candidate running for president that can boast to be telling the absolute truth in the things I will promise. My action has proven that I will be reliably able to achieve all that I will promise you. For all of the following goals, like last year, I will have 8 detailed formal plans of action written out for all of them.

The first on the agenda is the continued reformation of the club system. Despite the steps I have taken to develop the club system further, I concede that it hasn’t become a prideful part of the Hackley experience to many and I haven’t been able to push this as far as I thought I would. Echoing what I said last year, clubs have the unique ability to develop one’s character. I have been on the end of that life-changing experience through Model UN and debate. The one lasting legacy I hope to establish at Hackley is one that allows each and one of you to find your love and interests through a well-developed and funded club system. Building atop the efforts that I had made, I will continue to work with the administration to set aside more funding and to hopefully secure a more consistent meeting schedule for clubs. I promise I will create a monthly meeting between club leaders to discuss needs and offer the proper support to our club infrastructure.

The second major goal is to develop the House system further. This was a major concentration for all three officers who were elected into the all-school position this year. It is obviously something that many of you would like to see happen. Council as a group has made tangible efforts to create a structure for house points and house spirit and that will be extended to the end of our term. However, work is far from over. As one of the people most familiar with the efforts we have made, I am best equipped to take what we have right now, and take the house system above and beyond with more fun events, student leadership coming from each house, and house spirit.

The next goal will be to facilitate the reopening of Hackley in a safe but also exciting way. Given the current rapid vaccination of the Hackley community, it is very likely that we will be able to restore many of the exciting campus traditions such as Snowball that council plans. However, it is crucial for the administration to have a dynamic understanding of what the students want to see happen to restore a sense of normalcy and balance this delicately with safety precautions. I will make sure that Hackley’s reopen will maximize the sense of normalcy and community, whilst keeping each and every one of you safe. This will encompass a few negotiations to repeal rules that are in place which only causes inconvenience without truly keeping anyone safe. Such rules exist in places like the Johnson Center etc. where nonsensical rules that can be removed are still enforced. We will also aim to bring about more joint faculty and student events so that Hackley can come out of the pandemic as an enjoyable and more tight-knit community.

There are also several smaller goals that I hope to achieve/maintain. For example, I will keep on negotiating with HPA for additional council funding, and in addition, look for new revenues or alternative options of spending by the administration to potentially host more expensive events for the students. I aim to increase council’s transparency further by keeping you more informed through publishing council meeting notes and better access to more sensitive information such as council’s budget. Furthermore, I will try and implement a structure where class officers will be held more accountable through avenues such as updating you on their attendance records, and the projects they worked on. I also aim to increase the number of information session Community Council hosts to hear more opinions and ideas directly from you. I also hope to amend the things I was not able to achieve this year, and to offer a more inclusive experience to newcomers to Hackley, and ensure that a better infrastructure of student-to-student support is available. Finally, beyond the changes in Community Council structure and the increase in efficiency, I will create smaller leadership substructures within project groups so that there will be more incentive for elected council members to be efficient in their task to service the community.

At the end of the day, my plans will be far from the most ambitious. I’m sure you will hear plans from people who sound better in almost every way. But ultimately, it is what people bring into fruition that counts. Each dime of passion you invest into council by voting for a candidate that truly cares is a dollar returned to you through council’s work. I hope that my record of doing more than what I had initially promised demonstrates to you that I am an effective leader for Council as president and the most realistic candidate on this stage. If you vote for me, I will deliver on every one of the promises I made. If you vote for me, I will ensure that council will leap over the bar we set this year and become even more invested in our incredible community. If you vote for me, whilst you are sleeping soundly at night, far and away, I will be working at the work I so passionately love, and the work that is worth doing:

Serving you.

As a part of Council, I have done a lot to contribute to our community. I have spent lots of time on parking raffles, candy grams, and helped run concessions and halftime shows during school events. On top of these, I have helped create new tournaments for students such as the Spikeball Tournament and March Madness Tournament. In addition to creating these tournaments, I came up with the idea to create a set of activities and challenges to do at home during quarantine which has been the main focus of council lately. On another note, I am an active peer tutor and a Hudson Scholars leader.

Some goals that I have are to finally host the Spikeball and March Madness tournaments which were unable to be held because of coronavirus. In addition, I want to make the house system a bigger part of student life. I feel that the house system could take on a bigger presence in our day-to-day lives at Hackley, by investing in it, more students will be engaged in it. Because of this, I plan on making these tournaments count for house points, thus creating more hype around houses. In addition, I am thinking about including already existent Hackley events/competitions such as the Shakespeare Competition in the house system.

Jason Berger

I think I would be a good candidate for this experience for two main reasons. The first being the experience I have in council, as I have been on council since the end of 9th grade. I feel like the experience will help me a lot, as I know the ropes, and the transition to President will not be as major of a change for me, as it would for someone with less experience. This will allow me to do my job properly from day 1. I also think I am a natural leader, and work very well in that position. I am very good at making sure the group can work effectively, while also listening to others, two traits that will really help me in council.

I think the main way I’ve contributed to the Hackley community is through my work on Council for the past two years. I’ve spent a pretty good chunk of time doing things like selling parking raffle tickets, making posters, selling food at football games, and planning lots of different events. In addition to that, I am part of the leadership team of the Jewish Culture Club at Hackley, and I had a large role in the Holocaust Remembrance Day assembly that was held earlier this year. I am also a peer advisor and a peer tutor, and I enjoy contributing to the Hackley community in those ways too.

My goal if elected to this position is to make a difference in more ways than just fundraisers. I have been blessed to be a part of such a diverse community, yet I feel like we don’t come together enough to celebrate our differences. I believe there are a lot of social issues as well that seem like “outside” issues, but affect people in this community. My most important goal is to make Hackley a more comfortable and loving space, for any student that enters it, not just a certain student. Regardless of a student’s racial or ethnic background, sexual orientation or preference, economic status, we are all here to learn and be a part of a community. That is the culture I want to help create, and I believe with a bit of work, we can achieve this goal.

Charlotte Molinoff

I believe I am easy to talk to and know what the student body wants. I can articulate on behalf of the student body things they cannot say themselves.

I have and am currently coaching middle school lacrosse, I am going to peer tutor English students this spring, I am in the Vision as well. I am also giving each spring sports team a speech on concussion awareness.

  • Create an art show for pieces students do outside of school
  • Have a pickup league in the early fall and spring on Akin Common
  • Focus on environmental problems (throwing away things that could be recycled etc…)
  • Create a buddy system with lower and upper school students -Bring spirit back to games and Hackley in general

Joey Nadol

While I haven’t held a leadership position at the school in years, I’ve had tons of leadership experience outside of school while also doing what I love. For instance, in an internship I had over last summer, I had to create and execute an intricate plan to help my team more efficiently find planets in other star systems. The entire experiment was devised by me, and the conclusions of my experiment are actively being used by the team I was part of. The experience not only grew me as a person but showed me how capable I was of managing a large project like that. I think those skills could very well translate to a position like the school president. I’ve also held two part-time jobs over the past two summers, which have taught me to work well with others and get things done efficiently. The two jobs were a cashier and a junior counselor at a summer camp, so while they weren’t exactly the most high-profile jobs, in both I had to work with others and get things done together, every minute I was at the job. I learned a ton from these two experiences, and I think that the collaborative and managerial skills learned there could once again translate very well to being the school president. Another reason I think I could be a good candidate would be that I understand what students want. I’m a lifer here – I understand the school really well. Over my nearly twelve years at the school, I’ve forged lots of connections, and been friends with different groups of people. Aside from all the leadership skills and connections that I’ve talked about so far, I think some of my other qualities would make me a great candidate. I see myself as a really driven person, having done six majors in every year of high school, as well as doing research, composing and producing music, and playing lots of sports. I think this drive would once again translate well to a position in student government. I’m also a pretty creative person, as in the past I’ve composed pieces for the school orchestra, created tons of music outside of school, and I’m also currently the editor and producer for a podcast. I think this creativity has helped me in the past and would help me in the position of president, as I’d be tasked with coming up with ideas for new school events, etc. So, essentially, I think I would be a good candidate because of my experiences outside of school that have shaped me as a person and leader, and because of my qualities of drive and creativity.

I’ve been an available Peer Tutor both of sophomore and junior year, I’ve been part of the soccer and baseball teams since freshman year, and I won a Miller Bowl for Mind and Attitude as a rising freshman. But when I look back at my twelve years, I think my answer would be that I haven’t really contributed enough. For as long as I’ve been here, I probably should have done more. So I think this position would be a great thing for me because I’d get to help “give back” in a way, and help to improve the school that has given me so much.

I think that this upcoming year will be a year of “easing back” into the normal life we left around 14 months ago. There hopefully won’t be lots of restrictions to navigate, but if there are, one of my goals is making sure that everything goes smoothly. That would mean planning events to work with whatever the current guidelines are, but ensuring flexibility and hopefully being able to have a good amount of school events. Ideally, whatever the restrictions may be, we will plan and execute a full year of events designed around those restrictions with minimal cancellations. I’d say another large goal I have is increasing turnout at Hackley sports events. We all gather during Spring, Winter, and Fall Sting to watch games, but aside from those events, I don’t think we give our sports teams enough support, and school spirit sometimes feels lacking. Assuming that things are more or less normal, or we are all vaccinated, by the time we come back in September, sports teams will hopefully be playing a season. It’s only right that we welcome them back with great attendance and school spirit. I would accomplish this greater turnout through a couple of initiatives designed to increase interest in Hackley sports. One such initiative would be official school social media accounts dedicated to all Hackley athletics, posting highlights from games and final scores. As people begin to follow school sports through these accounts, they will hopefully show up more to watch in person, increasing both turnout and school spirit while also giving athletes a chance to play in front of real crowds. The end goal here is to allow athletes to have wide support from the Hackley student body, not just their friends or teammates. I would also explore other initiatives as the year goes on, like bringing food trucks to games or sending out email blasts. The bottom line is that our athletes deserve more support. Those are just a few of my goals, and I hope I’ve shown in this piece of writing that I have goals that not only help some people, but that would truly better the school as a whole.

Skyler Safriet

Unlike some candidates for this position, I am not coming with a background in Hackley’s Community Council system. Rather, I draw my leadership and organizational experience from a diverse background of positions that have helped me develop unique perspectives on teamwork, management, mindset, and goal setting. As an elected member of my town’s Youth Commission, I and a group of like-minded individuals are tasked with addressing youth issues in town and mobilizing to craft plans to solve them. We are constantly striving to propose new projects that benefit the youth of Greenwich, collectively voting on projects when they are proposed by a member and collaborating to make them even better. In my time as a member, I have seen projects passed ranging from a town-wide student mentorship initiative to reforming the DEI curriculum of the local YMCA, and personally, I am spearheading a financial education summer camp through the town camp program to teach younger students the basics of financial literacy. Overall, the Youth Commission is a mirror image of Hackley’s Community Council except that it caters to a much larger population. I believe that bringing the skills I’ve developed from the Youth Commission to our smaller Hilltop community will allow me to work even more attentively, reliably, and productively in recognizing and solving community issues and creating new ideas without being preoccupied with a town-sized population. To speak on a more personal level, I’ve had the privilege to serve as an elected Indoor Track and Field team captain, an experience that taught me that enthusiasm and passion for a community can steer one to be a leader. I can promise that I have both enthusiasm and passion for our Hilltop community in abundance. I believe that these qualities are some of the most important to have for a productive mindset, and I hope to use them to both bring about change and success as president and to encourage the Hackley student body to feel the same way about their community through the organization and leadership of next year’s Council. All in all, my number one goal is to bring as much benefit to the Hackley community as possible. I can promise you that I have the energy, passion, and plans for such an ambition!

I understand that in order to be a successful representative of a community, one needs to find passion in “getting involved.” What exactly does this mean? To me, it means actively seeking out experiences that allow you to pour personal effort into your community. In my time at Hackley, I’ve had the opportunity to do just that, and I am incredibly grateful for it. I have served as a Hudson Scholars mentor and now get to also serve on its leadership team. I have served as a Dial staff writer and now get to serve as an Editor-in-Chief. I have served as an athlete on the Track and Field team and now had the opportunity to serve as a captain. To me, these experiences represent two equally important things: First, that taking small steps of involvement in the beginning of any endeavor will show you the potential you’ll have to come to love it down the road. I did not know where my path would take me when I started high school, but I know now that I’ve been able to contribute multiple years of energy to important parts of Hackley just because I took those first steps into the Hudson Scholars club or to the Dial staff room; and second, that my continued effort has given me the opportunity to become even more involved in these programs that I’ve come to love, which is what drives me to apply for this position today. My admiration for our incredible community is what drives me to keep contributing in the ways that I can. However, listing activities I’m involved in and their importance to me doesn’t give you a full understanding of how I strive to impact this incredible community. On a more personal level, I’ve made it my number one goal to be a welcoming and positive friend to my peers, from new students I haven’t yet met to classmates I’ve known for years. I know how it feels to want to have a friend like that. So, I decided instead of wishing for that person to come around, I would be that person, and it has made me happy to have been able to positively impact my peers who I’ve had the greatest privilege to connect with. My goal is to continue my contributions that already stand and to create new ones with this position.

I want to continue the work of this past year’s committee when it comes to internal structuring. I believe that they’ve done a great job with establishing relationships with donors, encouraging club reform, and being open about their endeavors, and I want to continue to keep the mechanics of Council running smoothly by building off of the established framework with new organizational ideas that I’ve learned from my diverse leadership positions. I believe that a smoothly run internal Council is crucial to the establishment of projects and ideas in Hackley life. I also understand how important it is to keep communication between Council and the Hackley community free-flowing and full of information about not just Council endeavors, but of school events, administration notices, student projects and club events, and community news that is of interest to keep the Hilltop engaged in the community as a whole with all of the exciting things it has to offer. In terms of events, I hope to bring new experiences to the table, such as a Tedx style public speaking event for students to get up and present their thoughts to their peers. A unique issue important to me that I’d like to address, however, is the inclusion of rising freshmen in Council matters. These students come into high school fully expected to vote without having any prior knowledge of what Council does and how it affects high school life. I believe it’s in both the rising nines’ and Council’s best interest to give the eighth graders chances throughout the year to learn about Council’s role in high school so that they can make more informed voting decisions and easily come to Council with issues in their minds when they enter freshman year. Overall, as I have said before, my number one goal is to bring as much benefit to the Hackley community as possible. I believe that by improving upon the internal runnings of Council, keeping communication open, creating new, dynamic ideas for the community to enjoy, and bringing in all members of the community to make informed and unified decisions, this goal can be well achieved. I am committed to making it happen!



Candidates for Vice-President

Isabella Fauber

This past year has brought to light the importance of community and strong leadership, and I have been inspired by Hackley’s response to COVID-19. In and out of the classroom, I have observed that we, as a community, have grown more resilient and empathetic through disaster. My passion and love for the Hackley Community make me a great candidate for Vice-President. My years at Hackley have been filled with great peers, dedicated teachers, and amazing opportunities, and I feel that it is my turn to give back to the community. I am very open-minded and hard-working, and I feel that I could make a valuable addition to the Community Council. It is imperative to me that students’ voices are heard and that their concerns or ideas are discussed at meetings. I would make it my priority to advocate on behalf of my fellow students. I have also had quite a bit of practice in communication through my involvement in Hackley’s Independent Research Program, and I know that this is a valuable skill as Vice-President so that I can not only reach out to my peers but also to teachers. I am also innovative and have lots of ideas regarding how to unite the community—including capture the flag and grade-wide outdoor activities—in collaboration with my fellow Community Council members. I would bring a lot of energy and dedication to this position.

I have contributed to the Hackley Community in a variety of ways, but I hope that this position will allow me to contribute more. I recently started the Hackley Medical Club, along with one of my peers, for fellow students interested in medicine. In this club, we engage members in community service in a medical setting as well as raise awareness about pertinent medical topics/issues. I am also a Hackley Ambassador and a peer tutor.

If elected as Vice-President, I would want to accomplish four main goals while working with fellow community council members: create new fundraising initiatives; bring the community, and specifically each grade, closer; create new events for students, and make Hackley more eco-friendly. Currently, Community Council raises money via parking raffles, but this mainly appeals to juniors and seniors who can drive. I think that it would be great to create new fundraising events such as a raffle to be “principal for a day,” or have events such as walks where students can be sponsored. Fundraising is crucial to the community so that school dances and other events can happen. From talking to my peers, I know that fundraising is important. My second goal as Vice-President would be to bring the community closer, which ties into my third goal of creating new events for students. First Friday is a highlight of the Hackley experience, but what if we had more of those kinds of events, after school on Fridays (when there are no sports)? We could do games, such as juniors vs. seniors and freshman vs. sophomore ping pong tournaments, runs on the Hackley trails, and capture the flag. After a challenging year, I know from discussing with fellow students that renewing school unity is a priority. Lastly, with the climate emergency at hand, I think it is crucial for Hackley to take steps towards eliminating plastic output. We could start by swapping out the plastic cups and utensils at lunch for paper cups and bamboo utensils (or alternative eco-friendly materials). I want to foster an environment where students can offer input and engage in Community Council activities so that their desires are met. I also would like to stimulate an atmosphere that allows students to bond and create long-lasting memories after this unprecedented pandemic.

Michael Lee

Hi guys. I’m Michael Lee and I’m running for Council VP. I’d be a good fit for Council VP because I understand the council dynamic and what the job entails, I have experience planning council events, I participate on council regularly, I’m competent, I’m willing to get people in line, and I care about council.

My understanding of the council dynamic and what the job entails:

Last year, I was the Junior Class President. This role introduced me to council and made me understand the council dynamic: grade level officers work on committees and grade-level work, while all school officers (aka exec. council) work on council’s budgeting, communicating with the administration, and making sure council runs smoothly as well as grade-level work and committee work. Understanding this dynamic is essential for any exec. council member because they know how council functions as well as what their job is. I know what I have to do if I get VP. I know that I am going to have to dedicate a lot of time and effort to communicate with the administration. I understand I will have to talk to the HPA and administration about budgeting. I understand I will have to tell council members who aren’t contributing to step up their game. I understand this is a year-long commitment that I cannot back out of. I know what I need to do.

Experience planning events:

Last year I worked on Council’s Trivia contest, a Thanksgiving Sandwich Competition, Spirit Week 1, Spirit Week 2, and an Info Session. What this shows is that I understand how to hold an event. I understand how to propose, schedule, arrange, budget, advertise, and execute council events. This ability is further demonstrated on my event plans at the end of my paper. But the most important skill I bring to event planning was learned from the least popular thing I planned this year: the Thanksgiving Sandwich Competition. For those of you who don’t remember it or don’t know what it was, you would create a Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich, take a photo of it, submit it to a category (most appetizing, messiest, etc.), and then council would rank the sandwiches in each category to see which wins. What I learned here was to make events accessible as possible. This competition was not accessible because the submission process required people to go too far out of their way to submit their sandwich. Fortunately, I’ve learned this lesson and will try to make events accessible. I will do this by reducing the number of steps needed to participate in an event. I will also make sure our major events happen after a trimester ends, progress reports are submitted, and/or English essays have been finished. I like these timings because teachers are always trying to push that one extra test in right before the trimester ends or progress reports are due, causing the students to cram. English essays are also grind time for every Hackley student. Trivia actually had an issue with this as Trivia coincided with the juniors’ English Essays and people decided to do their English Essays over Trivia as they should.

Participation and competence:

On council, I actively participate. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve done a ton of council events. I haven’t been one of the kids who says they’ll help organize an event only to mute their mic and do nothing. I’m also competent as evident from how two seniors, Sophie Thomas and David Bernstein, and I, took point on the Trivia contest this year and saw it go from a proposal to one of the more popular events we did this year. This event also demonstrates my follow-through, leadership, and my ability to get projects done.

Willingness to get others in line:

The VP is the person who makes sure everyone on council focuses on their tasks and completes them. I’m willing to be that person. Think of Council as like a big group project. There’s always that one kid who doesn’t pull their own weight. I don’t like it when this happens. I think it’s unfair to everyone else in the group because other people now have to suffer for this person’s inaction. I’m not afraid of calling these people out. I’ve done it several times throughout the school year to my own grade when I called them out for not adhering to COVID protocol. 8th, 9th, and 10th graders ask the 11th graders if I’ve done this because I have. Ιf I can step up to my whole grade and tell them to get their act together, I can do it to a single person. I care about council Exec. council is a year-long commitment that requires tons of effort. You have to schedule meetings, work during your free time, make sure everyone is on task, and more.

I’m ready to do all this stuff because I care about council. This year has been an exemplary year for council. We did more stuff than I’ve ever seen council do and lots of council members actively participated. This has made me love working on council because I’ve realized council can get stuff done. However, there is still potential to be tapped. I want to be a part of the council that turns this potential into reality and I want to be a leader in it. Caring about council is extremely important because if you don’t care, you won’t fulfill your task. This is crucial for the VP because it makes everyone on the executive council’s job harder and reduces council’s ability to operate as well as it can.

In terms of how I’ve served the Hackley Community, I’ve worked as Junior Class President for one year, as I previously said. I worked on Council’s Trivia contest, a Thanksgiving Sandwich Competition, Spirit Week 1, Spirit Week 2, and an Info Session. I’ve also done work with the Jewish Culture Club as one of its founders and leaders (JCC). The biggest event we held this year was bringing in a Holocaust speaker. This was really important to me because it’s the Holocaust and because we don’t really talk about the Holocaust much at this school. So I figured it would be good for the Upper School to learn more about it.

Next is what I want to do next year. This does not mean everything I say I want to do will happen. This is just what I am going to try to push for. The only thing I promise is if I am elected, I will immediately email the other new exec. council members start working. These plans are fluid, not static. You can also email me ([email protected]) if there is anything you want to see happen or if you have suggestions/edits. All events that are not Snowball (the school dance), will be at the end.

Here’s what I want to do:

Improve Council’s Structure Last year, council changed how we work on projects. Instead of all 21 council members working on one task at a time, council now splits up into different committees and works on multiple tasks at a time. This has greatly improved council’s efficiency as council has done more this year than we’ve ever done before. I love this format and want to ensure that we keep it. However, this doesn’t mean the system is perfect. The one issue I’ve experienced in these committees is people can get somewhat distracted. To fix this, I think we should put council’s advisors, Mr. McLay and Mr. Grunenberg, on these committees to make sure they stay on task. We can also put older council members on as older council members tend to care about council more. It’s a minor change but I think it would optimize our work efficiency.


This year, the seniors on council in coordination with Hackley’s diversity clubs made a 6-page long list of appeals regarding the administration, curriculum, community times, and Hackley’s moral policies. They’ve made great strides to improve DEI at Hackley and their work is truly commendable. Currently, I believe they are working on a bias incident reporting system. However, they were not able to get through all their appeals because they had quite a few and time is finite. Therefore, I want to go over everything the seniors did this year regarding DEI, see if there are any changes the diversity clubs or seniors want to make to what they have done, see what work they were not able to finish and ask the diversity clubs if they have any new appeals. Over the summer and throughout next school year, me and the executive council, hopefully, will be able to bring these appeals to the administration and see what can be done. I also want to have a council member go to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) next year and see what other schools have done for DEI that council could do.

Improving House

For those of you who don’t know, the Upper School has this thing called House. It’s Hive but for the Upper School. The issue with it is that, unlike Hive, it is not very popular. To increase its popularity, I have several proposals. First, merging Hive and House. Hive, at least when I was in Middle School, was very popular and lots of fun. Because House is Hive but for the Upper School, it would make sense that my interest in Hive would carry over to House. However, it did not. Part of the reason this was I felt like I was awkwardly thrust into a new Hive when I joined my House. Because of how awkward it was, I didn’t feel like participating. Therefore, combining House and Hive would eliminate a lot of the awkwardness and hopefully make House bigger in the Upper School. The fruits of this merger will not manifest themselves for a couple of years, however, because a significant number of people need to cycle from the Middle School to the Upper School. Second, tying more events to House. Tying more events to House will familiarize students with House. This will hopefully make House a more integral part of the Upper School experience Third, Pep Leaders. This year, we thought it would be a good idea to create pep leaders so we can get students to get other students pumped up over House. As I am writing this paper, the signup form has not gone out yet because we are waiting to get the okay for the Hilltop Relay (which is Upper School Field Day). Assuming the form has not been sent out, I want to send out the form soon after I get elected. This way, we can figure out who next year’s Pep Leaders will be and start plotting out House events with them. If the form has gone out, then over the summer I still want to begin plotting out House events with the new Pep Leaders.


For years, council has wanted to work with clubs more. This year, we were able to increase the number of club meetings, do a joint event with the ping-pong club, and create club funding. Going into next year, I want to continue to try and turn as many community times into club meeting times as possible. This will give clubs more time to meet and hopefully will make clubs a more integral part of Hackley. I also want to try to do more joint events. This year’s ping-pong tournament, which led by the Ping-Pong Club and council, was incredibly successful with over 90 participants. This signals to me that Club x Council events have tons of untapped potential. If the film association or diversity clubs or really any club wants to do stuff with council, email me ([email protected]) and we can start talking. This year, we also created club funding because it turns out some clubs need to spend some money to get the equipment they need to function. This was made possible by the HPA increasing our budget. However, and I’ll get into this more when I talk about funding, we don’t really know if the HPA is going to be funding us next year. Therefore, I want to make sure the HPA keeps funding us because raffles and concessions can make us some money but not a ton.


I said this already, but the HPA funded us last year because we weren’t able to get the money we usually get from sports concessions. This allowed council to start funding clubs and investing more money in events. However, this might not happen next year. Therefore, I want to make sure the HPA continues funding us. Immediately after elections, I will reach out to the other members of the executive council and schedule a meeting between us and the HPA. However, talks may fail, meaning we need a backup plan. If the Tuck (Hackley’s small snack bar under Saperstein Arch) is still not open next year, I will try to get Council to sell what the Tuck would sell to increase council funds. I will also try to hold a fundraiser and when certain fundraising goals are met, council members or willing teachers will have to do some silly task. These tasks can be things like having Mr. McLay admit not all freshmen are bad on camera to having the Modern Languages department and Classical Languages department debate each other over the usefulness of the languages they teach.


Not everyone always knows what council is doing. This leads to people saying “council doesn’t do anything.” People also don’t always feel like giving council suggestions or asking questions because they don’t personally know their grade reps or they don’t know how to. I plan to solve these issues in one fell swoop by holding Council info sessions at least once every trimester. This year, council held an info session and it was very productive. I was on it and I thought it was great that we were able to tell people what we did as well as take suggestions and questions. I personally want to do more of these info sessions because again I thought it was very productive.


For those of you who don’t know, every winter council holds Snowball, which is a school dance. Unfortunately this year, it was canceled due to COVID. But next year, we will hopefully be able to hold it. Now I must make a confession. I am not a party person. I remember going into my Sophomore year I was at a party and the entire time I was in the bathroom doing my Advanced Physics summer homework. I wish I was joking about this. So I am going to make sure that as many parts of Snowball as possible are decided by you guys. Therefore, I’m going to send out some polls asking what music do you want to see, what theme should snowball be, etc.

Below are the big-ticket events I want to do.
Again, these plans are fluid, not static.

Event: Trivia
Date: Right after TRI-1 Progress Reports during Community Time

  • Similar tournament as last year
  •  Advisories will compete to be the best trivia team in their grade –
  • Questions will stretch from a wide variety of topics like History, Geography, Pop culture, and more
  • Advisories will meet in their own rooms
  • Advisories will have a community time where they all compete and put their answers on an answer sheet
  • The top advisory from each grade will move to playoffs. The highest scoring advisory that was not the highest in their grade will sub go to playoffs if another advisory is unable to compete
  • In the playoffs, the highest-scoring advisory will face off against the lowest scoring advisory. The winner will advance to the finals. Then the two other advisories will face off against each other. The winner will advance to the finals. Then the two finalists will face off against each other
  • The winning advisory will get their name inscribed on a plaque that has all the previous trivia winners names on it Plaques are fairly cheap. Price shouldn’t be an issue
  • House points will be distributed based on the number of questions right in prelim rounds and how far you made it during the playoffs

Event: Chess
Date: Right after TRI-1 ends during Frees or after school

  • Similar format as last year
  • People will sign up via Google Form, where they will tell us their frees, which bracket they would prefer to be put in, and ranking (if applicable) –
  • Depending on the number of participants, there may be a beginner bracket and an experienced bracket –
  • Bracket will be made based on ranking – They will play Standard 1v1 Chess against each other with a 10-minute timer –
  • Hopefully, the finals will be broadcast during a Community Time –
  • House points will be distributed based on how far you made it in the tournament Event: Basket Ball 1v1s Date: after TRI-2 Progress Reports during Frees or after school Description: –
  • People will sign up via Google Form, where they will tell us their frees and skill level – We might divide the bracket based on gender – Bracket will be made based on approximate skill (need to figure out a way to gage skill) –
  • Hopefully in the Johnson Center or the Middle School court –
  • Games will be half-court, first to score 15 points (not sure how many points is good though) –
  • House points will be distributed based on how far you made it in the tournament

Event: iMessage Pool
Date: after TRI-3 Progress Reports during Frees

  • Similar format to Ping-Pong – People will sign up via Google Form, where they will tell us their frees and skill level
  • Depending on the number of participants and want for it
  • We might divide the bracket based on skill or gender. Depends on numbers and the want to do it
  • Bracket will be made based on approximate skill (need to figure out a way to gage skill) – Games will be best of 3
  • Hopefully, the finals will be broadcast during a Community Time
  • House points will be distributed based on how far you made it in the tournament

Sophie Miller

I think that I would make a good Community Council Vice President because —brace yourself for a jaw-droppingly eloquent sentence— I work really hard at stuff. All jokes aside, I think that my work ethic is what allows me to be successful in a lot of the things that I do. Council is not an exception to that. I think that the way I work has contributed a lot to the success of events like Snowball and spirit week since I’ve been on Council. In addition to that, I think that my people skills make me a good candidate for Council leadership. I’m generally a pretty calm, patient person, and I think that my communication and negotiation skills would help me effectively represent the Hackley Community as Council Vice President. Lastly, I have a good amount of experience on Council. I’ve been on since the end of ninth grade, which gives me a very good understanding of how Council works. Because of that, I would do well in a leadership position. In the past two years, I’ve been on a lot of committees and seen how a lot of events work out. To put it bluntly, I know what works and what doesn’t in a council setting as a result of my experience on both successful and unsuccessful committees. I think that is an important quality for Community Council leadership. In addition to that, I have experience communicating with administrators about Council ideas, which is a vital part of council that I hope to elevate if elected.

I think the main way I’ve contributed to the Hackley community is through my work on Council for the past two years. I’ve spent a pretty good chunk of time doing things like selling parking raffle tickets, making posters, selling food at football games, and planning lots of different events. In addition to that, I am part of the leadership team of the Jewish Culture Club at Hackley, and I had a large role in the Holocaust Remembrance Day assembly that was held earlier this year. I am also a peer advisor and a peer tutor, and I enjoy contributing to the Hackley community in those ways too.

If I am elected as your Community Council Vice President, my main goal will be to strengthen the voices of students at Hackley who are not on council. Most people in the Hackley community seem to know that Council organizes spirit week, Snowball, and a few other events each year, but we play another role too. Council members are one of the main links between students and administration at Hackley. For grade level representatives, this is usually through communication with deans, but many council members from both grade level and all school council work with Mr. King as well. Our communication now is definitely effective, but that I think could be utilized in a much better way. I think that if Council could find a productive way to receive direct questions, ideas, and concerns from the rest of the Hackley community, we could do a much better job working on things that Hackley students actually want to be done. In addition to my main goal, I also hope to continue holding some of the more popular events that we’ve had in the past like the ping pong tournament, the march madness bracket challenge, Snowball, and movie nights, and hopefully add some new ones to the list.

Michael Potanin

As written in the responsibilities of the all-school vice president, I believe I would be a good candidate for this incredibly important Upper School position because of my passion to inspire, sense of compassion towards my fellow students, and willingness to give back during my last year at Hackley. I have come to appreciate the value of the Hackley student body since middle school. I joined the Hackley community in Kindergarten. Through all these years, the culture of finding friends and helping one another has become almost like a social fabric underpinning our academic pursuits and personal achievements. I believe that my relationship with my peers has strengthened through my life at Hackley, and meeting new students allowed me to work in the student body. I have put my passion and efforts forward when I served on the Community Council in 6th and 8th grades, and as Class President in 9th grade. I have also served as a Student Mentor on the Hudson Scholars Program last year and was inspired by seeing how much our teachers are giving to the kids from different backgrounds and schools, who joined the Scholars program at Hackley. With all these milestones of activism, I have experience with leading and tremendously enjoy this role. With 12th grade being my last year at Hackley, I would like to give back: I would like to lead, I would like to inspire, and I would like to make this year fun and memorable for the US students during these unprecedented times.

Along with serving on council for freshman year, I have contributed to the Hackley community by volunteering at the Hudson Scholars program by attending reunions, and being a part of the summer program. I’ve built strong bonds with the scholars and listened to their stories – and each of them have their own story of being a kid from their own community with distinct heritage and traditions and a thirst for knowledge. Through this leadership growth, I hope to work with each of you and address your desires and ideas to make Hackley a more enjoyable learning and social environment. I’ve also taken several volunteering opportunities at Hackley, like soup kitchens and being a counselor at the lower school art camp. I also have been a part of the Acting Program at Hackley – taking part in Fall Plays and contributing to the spirit of the amazing and multifaceted student community we have at Hackley.

I have three goals I would like to pursue:

  1. Engage – I’d like to bring more students into the community life at Hackley by making them an active member of the community that is powered by fun and initiative and also the community that gives back. If the Stings are back, we could hold small competitions during the halftime of games to promote school spirit. I would encourage people to go to the Hackley plays, musicals, student clubs, and music concerts and reward these engagements with free food and snacks. I will promote the creation of new sports teams, for example, a Hackley hockey team and figure skating as a PE or a sport offering, which could offer fun for students who would like to pursue a sport. These activities will allow for a greater sense of engagement in the community, something that we are all striving to achieve.
  2. Educate – Countless times, I have been unwilling to go to some Hackley events, as this meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I would like to inspire more students to take part in things they have not done before, be it Snow Ball, a new sport, Coffee House, or the play. Once you try something, hopefully, you will have fun, make new experiences and meet friends in a different environment. And if it doesn’t work out? Then try something new. That’s part of the beauty of life as a young person.
  3. Activate – I would like to activate us to put our passions to work – be it new volunteering opportunities, academic competitions, team building events, and much more. Whether it be volunteering to help clean the trails at Hackley, doing interscholastic grade-wide olympiads for different subjects, or creating more competitions in the House system, there are countless ways for us to give back.

Destiny Stephen

I have experience in council this year and I feel like a higher leadership role would allow me to express my ideas. I have bigger visions for the school and I really would like to be at the forefront of creating that future. This includes competitions between houses, spirit weeks, and beginning to work with the diversity member on council.

I feel like this year I have contributed a year of service as Class Agent. In addition to that, I am a member of two teams and a captain of one, and I feel that those leadership roles have prepared me for this one. I also participate in Hudson Scholars and other community service initiatives.

My goals if elected are to bridge the gap between community service and council because I feel like something that has come up had been how council can participate in and promote more community service. I feel like creating a position on council for that would be a good start. In addition, I would like to see if there are any opportunities to work with middle school council on both middle and upper school-wide events potentially because I think creating that connection between older and younger students is valuable. In addition, if the project was service-related I think that could be great too.


Candidates for Secretary/Treasurer

Hannah Carey

I believe I would be a good candidate for this position as I’m a very organized person, feel that I understand the Hackley student body’s goals, and have the school’s best interest at heart. After attending Hackley for the past twelve years, I’ve come to understand the aspects of student life in the classroom, on the sports fields, the stage, and socially; and understand the things that allow Hackley students to not only thrive but to truly enjoy being a part of the community. There is no doubt that this year COVID-19 has derailed each and every student’s idea of what their 20-21 school year would hold. With vaccinations, new research, and an overall better understanding of the virus, it appears that we will have a more ‘normal’ school year in the following year. I understand and agree with the feelings of loss of a ‘normal’ school year, which is why I would work extremely hard to be a part of the team that can help to bring back the activities and traditions we all miss.

In the past years, I have contributed to the Hackley community in numerous ways. I began giving back to the community at a pretty young age being a Hackley girl scout throughout lower and middle school. I have been a student ambassador; where I worked to show my love for the school and get prospective students excited about Hackley. As well, I have been a student teacher in the lower school and worked with first-graders in their independent studies. I as well worked with Hudson Scholars and spent a summer and went to reunions. And am a member of Hackley Lake-keepers and attend all of their cleanups. Also, at the beginning of this year, I put together many of the COVID test kits for the community.

As a member of the student body, there have been times where I did not know where my money from bake sales and raffles were being directed. I think that it’s important for student engagement if they knew what specific events their money was going towards. I think in whole this would raise more funds for favorite events like Snowball, stings, and other important traditions. I would work to increase transparency with the student body about where their money was being directed, and as well, the fact that I know what events students tend to enjoy would help me in giving advice on where to put funds.

Steven Li

I believe I would be a good candidate for treasurer because of my previous two years of experience on the community council already. In freshman year, I was the elected class agent, and now, I’m a sophomore class representative. Thus, I have two years of community council experience already and understand the ins and outs of the council. I also believe I would be a good candidate because of my active involvement in many aspects of Hackley. I’m a 3 sport varsity athlete so I understand the importance of sports and balancing them with schoolwork. I also am a member of the ping-pong club and chess club. Hence, I believe I’m a strong candidate for this position because of my experience on council and my involvement in many aspects of the Hackley community.

In the Hackley Community, I have contributed mainly through my contributions through the community council. I helped to plan many events that took place in person in my freshman years such as the snowball and bonfire. This year, I have completely organized all facets of the chess tournament, with about 10% of the high school signing up to participate. I have also participated in many parking raffles, selling tickets to the community.

If I were elected to this position, my first priority would be to interact with many members of the community and take in everybody’s ideas to present in front of the council. For example, in the past, I have seen many people in the community playing online chess and proposed and organized an online chess tournament. After the pandemic, I would like to plan many more school activities that could not happen this year. Along with other members of the sophomore council, we have discussed many different ideas that could not take place this year due to the pandemic that I would like to organize for next year.

Maren McCrossan

I would be a good candidate for this position because I am responsible, good at communicating my ideas, well-written, and generally competent. I am responsible because I take care of my younger siblings, have worked as a camp counselor, and have experience handling money for bake sales at my middle school. I am not shy at communicating my ideas and participate in my classes to make an effort to work with my peers to create stronger ideas. I am well-written because I take effective notes in class and share them with my peers if they need help. I believe I have the skills to do this job effectively and in a way that will benefit the community.

I am involved in many clubs and I actively participate during Spirit Week and Parking raffles. One of the clubs I participate in is HEAL, and this year I took the initiative to help create the video on recycling since Covid had increased has increased Hackley’s waste production. In sophomore year, I participated in the Climate Change Awareness March. I am also very involved in Amnesty International, where I write letters to diplomats regarding human rights violations.

My goal is to help Hackley budget and gain money from the HPA. I have a lot of ideas about different fundraising events during Covid. An example of this is different movie nights on campus, where students are able to buy snacks, and the money goes to council. I would like to work with HEAL to create events that will help not only council but promote more participation in helping the environment.

Advith Sharma

I would be a good candidate to be Secretary-Treasurer for a number of reasons. First of all, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hackley and believe that anything I can do on council to improve our experience will be beneficial to all. I know that being Sec-Treasurer will be a great fit because of my organizational and planning skills. intend to apply the same effort I put into my classes into council to help keep a record of meetings, and council funds. As I have developed skills in planning through club leadership, I will continue to help all other council members to the best of my ability and am committed to attending all meetings on a consistent basis. Furthermore, I value not only planning but also taking initiative and executing the ideas I hear from my peers, and intend to bring this to council.

Being here since 2nd grade, I have experienced our community at many levels including in the Hackley Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. This background has helped me get involved in many ways throughout my time at Hackley. As the winner of the Geo Bee in Middle School, I sought to spread my passion for geography to the middle schoolers through a club I currently lead. By organizing fun activities and resources for the middle schoolers, I have been able to gain a greater perspective of the Hackley community which I will bring to council. Furthermore, I really have enjoyed serving on Model UN leadership and organizing the recent conference hosted by Hackley. I value all the great clubs that Hackley has in many disciplines, and will do my best to continue to support them. I am also involved in Hackley athletics in all three seasons and have enjoyed my time. By having much background in the Hackley community, I know that I can make the most of my time on council for the betterment of our school.

My first goal would, of course, be to guarantee that my peers’ ideas get shared on a frequent basis to council in terms of the ideas that are proposed. I will keep a thorough account of council funds, attendance, and notes. Making council activities known to my peers is a key goal and encouraging transparency between teachers, students, and council members. I also hope to assist all other members and cooperate with them in all activities, making sure that we divide the planning and take responsibility.


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