ASB Elections: Candidate Pitches

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Noah Hendelman, running for ASB President

What makes you qualified to run?

I have been in leadership for 3 years, as class secretary, class president and currently as ASB president. Throughout this time I have learned the ins and out of being a leader. I have played 3 sports in MI uniform, I’ve partaken in countless different clubs, I know the Mercer Island culture, and the amazing students that surround it. As part of leadership I have headed projects like the 2019 Olympic themed assembly and the 2018 Homecoming Dance, the first dance in the gym instead of the commons! Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that I am the only rising senior running for the presidential position, and I guarantee you that looking at myself last year, I would not have the experience or knowledge to hold such an esteemed position. 

What position/role are you running for?

ASB President

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for ASB president because I know how it feels to be left out. There are students who feel they don’t have a place in our culture. The main complaint of MIHS, and the reason my own sister chose to attend another high school, is the cliquey culture. I hear it all the time, and I want everyone to feel they have a voice at our school. Leadership has allowed me to find my place at the high school. I am neither popular nor athletic, but I have poured my heart out creating events like dances and assemblies that aim to unify. I am running for this position because I want to bring people together. That is what good leaders do. Not me, us.

What will I do to improve the school?

I have 3 specific items that I would love to implement right at the debut of the school year, an executive order if you will.

  1. Student Printers. It is a crime that the only option students have to print is the library. It never works, either out of paper or not connecting, and my essay gets a -10% because I am too lazy to print at home. Unacceptable. We need more printers in more areas of the school that are easily accessible to students
  1. Birthday announcements. If you choose to fill out a google form or contact asb, you should get a shoutout on the morning announcements for your special day. This way if someone has a birthday, they can share their special day with everyone. Again, this is only if one gives permission, if you want to live your special day anonymously, you do you <3
  1. Islander community table. This is to help break the “cliquey culture.” Islanders that don’t feel they have a place to sit at for lunch should be welcomed with open arms. The community table will be during both lunches and is a place for islanders of different grades and backgrounds to get to know each other. We are a community and we need to support everyone. The Community table will make clear that everyone has a place at MIHS.

What is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now.

The biggest issue I have seen facing student-admin relationships is a lack of communications. I think most of the problems that MI students and admins clash over, with regard to everything from Flag dudes to grad caps, is an issue of both sides listening to each other. Often I think the student body needs to understand where administration is coming from, because I genuinely believe they have the student’s best interest at heart. But also, sacrificing tradition for the sake of inclusion is sometimes sacrificing the will of 90% of the student body, and I don’t think that’s fair either. Effective communication and understanding is the crux of healthy student-admin relationships.

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

I think both students and teachers have been doing a remarkable job adapting to this new style of learning. Both teachers and students need to be compassionate about technology limitations and lenient regarding grading and teaching, which they absolutely have been. Frankly I have found the schedule to be appropriate and teachers to be very understanding, I don’t have any concrete complaints with the manageability

What inspired you to run for this position?

The answer isn’t really a “what,” but a “who”. There are several people who have inspired me and guided my aspirations in becoming a student leader. A few of these people include: Noonie Mccann, Bernie Sanders, Leslie Knope, and most recently, Principal Puckett. These people lead with determination, empathy, ferocity, but more importantly, they listen to their communities, and are extremely passionate about every endeavor they take on. 

I am passionate about ASB leadership. I believe student government is vital in fostering a strong student voice. I know that students who are given the opportunity for leadership roles, such as planning a dance or designing an assembly, will rise up to the task. Staples of the Mercer Island experience, such as the Homecoming parade and dance, are created via student voice and action. Empathy and compassion are essential in leading a group as large as the high school. Understanding a constituency’s needs is the fundamental role of a leader. Without empathy for those who are struggling, leaders can create a false picture of how a community is doing, only seeing those who are succeeding.

MIHS should be a place where everyone can be themselves and feel not just accepted but embraced. How awesome would it be if every Friday, every Islander was decked out maroon and white face paint, and every Islander high fived each other in the hallway, and every Islander felt they had friends to eat lunch with, and a teacher to talk to, and a community they can rely on; achieving this kind unity among everyone who love MIHS, as much as I do, is possible together, and I know that once we Islanders reach this unity, MIHS will be a special place to apart of. 😉

Joyce Zhang, running for ASB Vice President 

What makes you qualified to run?

I have been a member of the Leadership class for the past two years serving as the Sophomore Class secretary and the Junior class Vice President. Throughout my time in the Leadership class I have gained invaluable insight on how the class runs and am familiar with the duties of the ASB VP. The ASB Vice President works closely with the student body with their active participation in managing the school’s clubs and overseeing the Student Senate. Managing these fundamental aspects of our school is no easy feat, but I am ready to dedicate myself to ensure the success of student clubs and voice. I am also an avid member of the Cross Country/Track team in addition to multiple clubs, so I am able to garner a broad variety of student opinions into the Leadership class. 

What position/role are you running for?

ASB Vice President

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for the position of ASB Vice President because I want to advocate for the interests of the Student body and create an environment where students are able to succeed socially and academically. I want everyone to feel proud that they are an Islander, but in order to accomplish this I beleive the school must have a larger conversation on the mental health of the students. Every day students face various forms of social and academic pressure within the school. While small steps have been made to lessen academic pressure such as the implementation of the no homework policy during breaks, I believe there is work to be done on the social climate of our school. Even though many of us have been in the same classes for years, I still see some of our peers sitting alone during lunch or struggling to find a partner in projects. This saddens me as I want MIHS to embrace the mystical fourth “I” of Inclusion. Through Leadership I aim to create events that will unify the student body and create a tight knit community where no one is left out. 

What will you do to improve the school?

As ASB Vice President, I want to enhance my involvement with student clubs by creating more opportunities for clubs to advertise and allow the student body to be cognizant of the wonderful variety of clubs that our school offers. One of my ideas includes creating a virtual club calendar that will be accessible for all students to see. Clubs will schedule when they are meeting and update/change meeting times on demand. This way will allow clubs to organize when they are meeting throughout the week as they can view which days that other clubs are meeting  and can schedule accordingly. I also want to implement more club fairs throughout the year, so student clubs are able to garner more members. The largest club fair occurs during 8th grade transition day, however it does not give school clubs the opportunity to advertise to students in the high school.

What is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now?

I believe the largest issue in the student-admin relationship is the communication gap. Students are often confused and especially in a time like this, their knowledge of what is going on is fueled by rumors from their peers. The student body is often at odds with the administration because they are not given a full perspective of what the admin are dealing with. As part of the Leadership class, I have been fortunate enough to see how they resolve tough issues. I want the student body to know that the admins always prioritize the interest of students and want to create an equitable learning environment for all students. While some of their decisions have been controversial, they genuinely care for the well-being of the school. I believe that once the student body and the admin are able to empathize and understand the best interests of each other, the relationship between the students and admin will be healed. 

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

Right now I think the virtual learning implemented by the school is flexible and caters to both the staff and students’ needs. Since this is such a unique situation the staff can only do so much by giving students content and the resources they need to succeed in the class. With the Incomplete/A grading system, students’ motivation to learn may be skewed, so it is ultimately up to the students to take the initiative to learn the content they need for future classes. I think if the school released students’ schedules for next year early, it would give students ample time to prepare and learn the material needed for the classes they take next year. 

What inspired you to run for this position?

I love being part of the Leadership class and the current ASB leaders have inspired me to run for this role. I admire them tremondously and they have given me the experience to effectively assume this role if elected. While there have been ups and down in terms of planning events, my hope is to reflect on the positive aspects and pass down my knowledge to future leaders of the school. The current leaders of our school display the traits of accountability, altruism, and empathy, and these are fundamental to ensuring the interest of the student body. They strive to create an equitable environment for every student, even if it means having conversations on school traditions such as grad caps. Student voice and action are integral to creating successful school events and the current students leaders are able to read the student body and effectively cater to their needs. My ultimate goal is to mirror their passion for Leadership and our school and to continue their work for student success. 

Why should people vote for you?

If elected ASB Vice president, I promise to advocate for the interests of the student body within the school and community. From planning school-wide activities and working alongside different groups within our school, I want to continue to promote an inclusive environment and support all students as they progress through high school. This school has also provided me with a vast number of opportunities and experiences, and my goal is to pass down what I have learned to future student leaders. Overall I am ready to serve our school and provide students with an environment to succeed socially and academically. 

Kevin Wang, running for ASB Vice President:

What makes you qualified to run?

I’ve been through the ins and outs of the administrative part of running clubs, and I know what needs to be improved on. For example, the current requirements for keeping a club active are really complex and I want to make clubs more accessible for people running them right now, but also people looking to start them.

Why are you running for this position?

I’m running because I want to bring change to MIHS in regards to student engagement. I’ve come to realize that clubs serve as the foundation of student engagement. ASB Vice President gives me the ability to effect change that benefits the school as a whole.

What will you do to improve the school?

I’m really excited to implement my fundraiser idea about a standardized testing book exchange. These funds will contribute to the ASB fund and provide more opportunities for the student body. I also want to work on things students have problems with. 

What is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now?

From what I’ve experienced, there’s a disconnect between the student body and leadership; the communication isn’t there when trying to solve school-wide problems. I want to improve this connection and bring the student body into solving the important problems and making the important decisions.

There’s no communication between the admins and the student body, so the admins cannot make decisions that represent the sentiment of the student body. I hope to help bridge this gap and create a school environment where people actually feel like the school represents them.

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

Not gonna lie, school would be a lot more manageable if we got homework proportionate to the amount of class time we had. Also, meeting twice a week for an hour would be more effective than once a week for two.

Why should people vote for you?

As a club officer in numerous clubs, I’ve experienced a lot of unnecessary complexity in the ASB club system. I want to make clubs more accessible for people running them right now, but also people looking to start them.

I hope to bring a better representation of the students and collective reform to all aspects of MIHS: the clubs, student-admin relationships, fundraisers, and everything in between.

Kayla Levin, running for ASB Spirit Commissioner

What makes you qualified to run?

 I am qualified to run because I have been in the leadership class for the past 2 school years! I was Freshman class president and Sophomore appointed position! I have also held many other leadership roles including President and Vice President in other organizations I am associated with!

What position/role are you running for?

 I will be running for ASB spirit commissioner!

Why are you running for this position?

 I am running for this position because I believe spirit has been lacking in the past few years and I want to improve the all around Islander spirit! 

What will you do to improve the school?

To improve our school I will work to make sure that students and teachers alike are fully spirited and supportive of all Islander traditions! I will help us build new traditions that showcase how strong our Islander spirit can be!

 What is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now?

As of right now I believe that during this crisis there is very little clear communication from Admin to students! There are lots of rumors and things people may think is happening but not much that is set in stone by admin! 

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

As for ideas on making this time more manageable, I think it depends on the person and the teacher. Personally I benefit from setting a schedule for myself and laying out my week and my days down to the minute, but this doesn’t work for everyone! I would say that it is beneficial to make a schedule or a plan that works best for you and stick to it throughout the school week and then let yourself relax on the weekends, because I know there are a lot of assignments and links to keep track of!

Why should people vote for you?

 People should vote for me because I will make sure that spirit days and weeks are centered around what is doable for islanders! I will help out spirit thrive and hopefully increase attendance at spirit and sports events!

Alden Hey, running for ASB Treasurer

What makes you qualified?

I am the twice elected (only once impeached) President of the Class of 2022. I believe my experience in leadership has qualified me for this position. 

What position/role are you running for?

I am running to be your next ASB Treasurer.

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for this position because I want to make our school stronger than it has ever been before through my school improvement plan. 

What will you do to help improve our school?

My two main goals are to increase ASB event funding through reclaiming unused funds from this year, as well as decreasing smaller spending through turning leadership into a CCR course. 

What do you believe is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now?

The largest issue with student-admin relations right now is that many if not most students in leadership are afraid of asking tough questions of admin and in doing so accidentally miscommunicate the true priorities of the student body.

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

To be perfectly candid, leadership has next to no bearing on how instruction happens. That being said, I believe making all assignments officially due at the end of the semester could help many students mitigate the daily stress we are all feeling right now.

What inspired you to run for your position?

I credit my interest in being an ASB officer entirely to last year’s ASB president Jon Na. He was truly the definition of a servant leader and I admire his dedication to our school. 

Why should people vote for you?

I believe my policy-based approach is the most effective way to kickstart our leadership program after we return to school. A vote for Alden Hey is a vote for servant leadership.

Casey Amico, running for ASB Treasurer:

What makes you qualified?

I’ve been managing money my whole life. I was never just given an allowance and I’ve been working for the money I have now and saving it responsibly. I want to be able to use my experience to better budget and save up ASB funds and ensure that the money is earned well and spent fairly.

Why are you running for this position?

I have a vision for our school for our school that I would work hard to put into action and make lasting changes so that we can move forward into the future with new policies and practices that will make fundraising and ASB spending more effective.

What will you do to improve the school?

It’s much easier to get things done as a class when you know what you’re working towards and how close you are to your goal – that’s why I want to be able to effectively communicate with the student body as ASB treasurer to more easily motivate students to donate money and enthusiastically participate in both fundraisers and school events.

What do you believe is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now?

I think the main reason for tension between the students and the administrators is the recent crackdown on school and senior traditions, especially now that our 2020 Seniors have had their second semester taken from them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no way bashing the administrators for this. I recognize that they’re doing everything they can to make sure our school lives up to its values, however, I think that there should be a better balance between making everyone feel included and still enjoying old traditions.

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

I think there’s too much pressure on students to continue with schooling during the closure. It’s stressful enough for me to be able to balance getting work done, staying sane, and maintaining a 20 hour work week, and I know there are people going through more stress than I am who are struggling as well to keep up with academics.

I don’t think it’s fair to grade students on participation or “engagement” for online classes because it’s impossible to tell what someone’s going through.

I want to make mental and physical health a priority rather than schoolwork.

What inspired you to run for this position?

I know this island and this school like the back of my hand. My roots are deep in MI and my family has been a part of its culture since the high school opened in the 60s – and let me tell you – not much has changed.

I know what has been effective in the past and what hasn’t worked when it comes to the ASB’s role in the school.

Emily Yang, running for ASB Secretary:

What makes you qualified?

In my three years at Mercer Island High School, I’ve held numerous leadership roles, including captain of the soccer team, President of Gender Equality Club, and Junior Class Secretary this past year.

Why are you running for this position?

I’ve always considered myself very organized: I take pleasure in color-coding my notes and sorting my copious numbers of pens at home.

What will you do to improve the school?

Not only would I enjoy the daily responsibilities of ASB Secretary, but I would also apply my impulse for organization in a way that benefits the student body.

What do you believe is the biggest issue facing student-admin relationships right now?

I believe that different perspectives of school spirit remain a divisive, problematic issue in our school.

I believe that student involvement is the best way to implement an inclusive, universal idea of spirit. I’d create weekly schedules that showcase every tryout, audition, game, performance, or community event that students could get involved in that week.

There are often sentiments of frustration with the admin, as I believe many students remain in the dark on important issues or the reasoning behind major decisions. Consequently, students often reject the admin’s attempts to encourage inclusivity, political correctness, etc., as they believe they have no voice.

Accordingly, I think the admin needs to do a better job of emphasizing the positive changes they hope will come from their decisions, while students need to look at their decisions objectively before immediately rejecting any change.

What ideas do you have for making learning more manageable during these difficult times?

I think we need to acknowledge that no teacher is prepared to give fully electronic lessons; there will certainly be adjustments to their plans in upcoming weeks. Students, too, would never have expected to complete their Spring semesters online.

I believe that distance learning could be made infinitely more bearable if there were a more lenient, understanding approach from all teachers.

What inspired you to run for this position?

I’ve always loved note-taking and organizing – the two main responsibilities of [being an] ASB Secretary.

To address the elephant in the room, I’m unopposed. I don’t think my ego could handle the bruising of losing to a nonexistent opponent. But even if I did have an opponent, I think I could be an accessible, understanding, and effective ASB Secretary.