Head Prefect candidates release statements

All three candidates for Head Prefect will speak to the junior and sophomore classes in an assembly in Taper Gym on Wednesday, March 20. Polls will open after the assembly and the results of the election will be announced Thursday after school.

Junior prefect Henry Hahn ’14 runs unopposed for the male Head Prefect position and junior prefects Mazelle Etessami ’14 and Ashley Sacks ’14 will face off to be next next year’s female Head Prefect. Etessami and Sacks answered a prepared and unprepared question regarding the role of Head Prefect in junior class meeting on Monday, March 18.

The three candidates answered questions in Head Prefect Candidate Statements last week on how they would head Prefect Council and their opinion of the Honor Board, which the Head Prefect leads in deliberations.

Mazelle Etessami ’14

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Head Prefect.

If you are running for the Head Prefect Position and do not win will you also run for Senior Class Prefect? If not, why?

Yes.

2. What makes you feel that you are qualified for the position? Please describe any leadership experiences you have had. If you have been a Prefect, please be specific to your experience on Prefect Council.

For the past two years I have been fortunate enough to serve as a representative for my grade on Prefect Council. Given the fact that I am now accustomed to both the expectations and consequent responsibilities that being a Prefect entails, I think that I am adequately qualified for the position of Head Prefect. As a Prefect I have been a representative of the student body on the Character Education Committee, brought Boba to the cafeteria, led the team responsible for organizing Fanatic Fest and March Madness, and helped bring Dodgeball to the upper school. In addition to all of these things, I also understand that as a leader it’s not just about the big goals that you can accomplish, but also about the smaller things. A good leader in the community pays attention to the smaller problems within the community, and always works to meet student requests, however minuscule or obscure. I’ve also tried to demonstrate this quality by bringing larger coffee cups to the cafeteria, a printer and computer to the lounge, making sure the microwave got fixed, and I am currently working to get trash cans placed in all hallways. Outside of Prefect Council, I am a head of the Chronicle’s multi-media team, a leader of Girls Learn International, and, over the past three years have also led our community in an attempt to be more aware of the many forms of diversity by pioneering the way for student attendance at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, which I have attended three times. I feel that this has allowed me to be more in tune with the diverse array of desires and opinions of our community. Lastly, I am someone who has, and will continue to work tirelessly to balance all the desires of my classmates, as well as those of the faculty and administration. As a responsible student and caring peer, I feel that I would be able to uniquely impact our community and represent the student body well.

3. What are your thoughts on the Honor Board and what has led you to these opinions?

We are fortunate to attend a school where students have a strong concept of integrity, a concept reinforced by the Honor Code. Harvard-Westlake is a place where we do not have to lock our lockers and hide our backpacks in fear that someone will steal our valuables, a place where teachers can leave the room during a test, trusting that the students will not cheat.  However, there are unfortunately some times when this communal trust is broken. The Honor Board is in place to ensure that those bonds of trust are rebuilt within the community, particularly for the student in question. I feel that some of the most important aspects of the Honor Board are things that are often overlooked: it is a representation of our entire school and a truly helpful, corrective body. Yes, when one speaks about the Honor Board they often emphasize the fact that it has student representatives, as they should. However, through my experience with the Honor Board this year I have come to appreciate how comprehensive it really is. I feel that it provides the student that comes before the Board the most cohesive group of people who are responsible for making the decision about their future. Furthermore, it must be stressed that the Honor Board is a corrective and not a punitive body. Both the students and adults that sit on the Board want the student to finish the process better than they started off, and I feel that the Board’s recommendations help bring that about. However, I think that there is an obvious disconnect between the Board and the student body and I feel that something needs to be done about this. The Honor Board is fantastic and necessary for our school. Yet, in order for there to be a more general consensus on the positive aspects of the Board, I believe there needs to be more transparency. Thus, the more extensive results of each case, which many students want back, should be included in addition to the open meetings. Moreover, whether there needs to be a form of media to educate and emphasize the details and importance of the Board, or simply an allowance of more open discussion instead of just the open forum meetings about the results of a case, constructive conversations rather than mindless gossip are bound to improve not only people’s understanding of the system, but the system itself.

4. Please describe one thing in Harvard-Westlake’s community you would change and how you would do it. Be specific.

Given the constant, fast-paced nature of our school, it is often difficult to adequately convey one’s wants, and offer constructive criticism to a Prefect. Consequently, in order to increase transparency and the student body’s knowledge of what occurs in Prefect Council meetings, there should be monthly updates, orchestrated by the Chronicle’s Multi-Media team, which I am a part of, broadcasted to the Student Body. Once a month on camera, both Head Prefects would give a brief summary of the Council’s discussions, efforts, and information about the things they implemented and then continue to answer questions posed by a Chronicle reporter. A link to this would be emailed out and posted on Facebook so it could be easily accessible by all. Underneath the video students could leave a comment addressing a particular point in the video or request something they would like to be done. Also, since it is rather counter intuitive for the Prefect Council to be spending resources on something that the majority of the student body is not in favor of, student criticism would not only be welcomed but also sought after. Overall, this would allow for increased student-Prefect interactions and ultimately make the school environment more enjoyable for everyone.

Ashley Sacks ’14

1. For what position are you running?

Head Prefect

If you are running for the Head Prefect Position and do not win will you also run for Senior Class Prefect? If not, why?

Yes.

2. What makes you feel that you are qualified for the position? Please describe any leadership experiences you’ve had, if applicable.

Over the past four years between both my involvement in student government and my other extra-curricular activities, I’ve had a lot of experience in leadership roles that have sought to bring our school together as community: I helped initiate and produce the Coffee Houses on the MS campus and then further developed this tradition by working on the US Coffee Houses, which, at their essence, are all about peers supporting peers; I co-created the HW Philomathean Society, which brings students together outside of HW who share an interest in film. I work as both a team player and a producer/director on Chronicle media productions, and I’ve been a member of the HW Film Festival Committee since 10th grade. Lastly, through the years, I’ve led countless activities to foster school spirit and community service (e.g. dances, haunted hallways, movie promos, student gatherings and food fundraisers—just to name a few).

More importantly, however, in my four years in student government, I’ve learned to successfully navigate the HW administration to get things changed and accomplished. I’ve learned that it’s never simple; I’ve learned that, without fail, it always takes time and extensive effort, as I learned last year when I got water bottles back in the cafeteria—a project I started in 8th grade.

As I have mentioned in previous speeches, I am here to be your voice. I work for you. I truly believe that. Facebook, call, text, email or simply come up and talk to me about your ideas or issues with school. Working with the HW bureaucracy is challenging, and I feel my experience and tenacity will be an asset to our class, and the entire school.

3. How do you feel about the Honor Board and what has led you to feel this way?

I personally feel that the Honor Board is an incredible facet of our school community—a system that potentially stands to distinguish HW from countless other high schools in that it gives the student body a voice with the faculty and administration; it gives us a say in what we consider “right” and “just”, and gives weight to our interpretation of what the Honor Code is and what the Honor Code ought to be. Quite simply, the Honor Board is a privilege.

This year, we’ve made some changes that in my opinion have greatly streamlined the practices of the Honor Board. Instead of writing and “anonymizing” lengthy recommendations, we simply inform the students of the consequences immediately after a decision is made and hold Monday forums to replace the long-written explanations of the past. Most members of the community who have not been before the Honor Board might not appreciate this, but previously, students who came before the Board used to have to endure a long and painful, nail-biting waiting period before they could find out the Honor Board’s verdict. In my opinion, this was a horrible way to go about helping someone who, by violating the honor code, had made a mistake and was eager to make up for his/her wrongdoing. These students would often have to sit miserably for up to two weeks before discovering the consequences. With the new system, we’ve vastly improved communication between the Honor Board and the student who has committed an infraction and have hopefully made a painful process a little more humane.

Having said all of this, I still believe in my heart that there is a lot of room for improvement. For example, this year we’ve implemented open forums during breaks to discuss Honor Board cases, but the times have seemed to conflict with everyone’s schedules. Next year, I hope to launch an interactive website, where questions and answers can be posted throughout the day at everyone’s convenience, allowing people to stay in the loop with recent practices of the honor board, while not having to compromise on any of their school commitments.

4. Please describe one thing in Harvard-Westlake’s community you would change. Also, how would you use the influence of the position of Junior/Senior Prefect to change our community?

If there was one thing I could change in the Harvard-Westlake community, I feel it would need to be our system of communication. Although one role of the Prefect Council is to act as a liaison between students and the administration, another often overlooked position is that we must act as a connecting body to bring students together. For this reason, it is essential that Prefect Council lead the project for helping students publicize their ideas and get them off the ground—whether it’s a club, event, or community service organization.

I’ve already begun to work on this initiative by utilizing the TV’s in the lounge and in Rugby as “digital billboards” to display animated advertisements for various groups on campus, and I would like to elaborate on this project throughout next year, increasing both the amount of ads and their presence on campus by adding new monitors to other buildings. Beyond this, I would like to create a revamped electronic Daily Bulletin to take advantage of the all of the technology that students have adopted over the last few years (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc). I think in total, these changes would have many significant impacts and would greatly enhance student life and campus activities for the better.

Henry Hahn ’14

1. For what position are you running?

Head Prefect

If you are running for the Head Prefect Position and do not win will you also run for Senior Class Prefect? If not, why?

Yes.

2. What makes you feel that you are qualified for the position? Please describe any leadership experiences you’ve had, if applicable.

Over the past four years between both my involvement in student government and my other extra-curricular activities, I’ve had a lot of experience in leadership roles that have sought to bring our school together as community: I helped initiate and produce the Coffee Houses on the MS campus and then further developed this tradition by working on the US Coffee Houses, which, at their essence, are all about peers supporting peers; I co-created the HW Philomathean Society, which brings students together outside of HW who share an interest in film. I work as both a team player and a producer/director on Chronicle media productions, and I’ve been a member of the HW Film Festival Committee since 10th grade. Lastly, through the years, I’ve led countless activities to foster school spirit and community service (e.g. dances, haunted hallways, movie promos, student gatherings and food fundraisers—just to name a few).

More importantly, however, in my four years in student government, I’ve learned to successfully navigate the HW administration to get things changed and accomplished. I’ve learned that it’s never simple; I’ve learned that, without fail, it always takes time and extensive effort, as I learned last year when I got water bottles back in the cafeteria—a project I started in 8th grade.

As I have mentioned in previous speeches, I am here to be your voice. I work for you. I truly believe that. Facebook, call, text, email or simply come up and talk to me about your ideas or issues with school. Working with the HW bureaucracy is challenging, and I feel my experience and tenacity will be an asset to our class, and the entire school.

3. How do you feel about the Honor Board and what has led you to feel this way?

I personally feel that the Honor Board is an incredible facet of our school community—a system that potentially stands to distinguish HW from countless other high schools in that it gives the student body a voice with the faculty and administration; it gives us a say in what we consider “right” and “just”, and gives weight to our interpretation of what the Honor Code is and what the Honor Code ought to be. Quite simply, the Honor Board is a privilege.

This year, we’ve made some changes that in my opinion have greatly streamlined the practices of the Honor Board. Instead of writing and “anonymizing” lengthy recommendations, we simply inform the students of the consequences immediately after a decision is made and hold Monday forums to replace the long-written explanations of the past. Most members of the community who have not been before the Honor Board might not appreciate this, but previously, students who came before the Board used to have to endure a long and painful, nail-biting waiting period before they could find out the Honor Board’s verdict. In my opinion, this was a horrible way to go about helping someone who, by violating the honor code, had made a mistake and was eager to make up for his/her wrongdoing. These students would often have to sit miserably for up to two weeks before discovering the consequences. With the new system, we’ve vastly improved communication between the Honor Board and the student who has committed an infraction and have hopefully made a painful process a little more humane.

Having said all of this, I still believe in my heart that there is a lot of room for improvement. For example, this year we’ve implemented open forums during breaks to discuss Honor Board cases, but the times have seemed to conflict with everyone’s schedules. Next year, I hope to launch an interactive website, where questions and answers can be posted throughout the day at everyone’s convenience, allowing people to stay in the loop with recent practices of the honor board, while not having to compromise on any of their school commitments.

4. Please describe one thing in Harvard-Westlake’s community you would change. Also, how would you use the influence of the position of Junior/Senior Prefect to change our community?

If there was one thing I could change in the Harvard-Westlake community, I feel it would need to be our system of communication. Although one role of the Prefect Council is to act as a liaison between students and the administration, another often overlooked position is that we must act as a connecting body to bring students together. For this reason, it is essential that Prefect Council lead the project for helping students publicize their ideas and get them off the ground—whether it’s a club, event, or community service organization.

I’ve already begun to work on this initiative by utilizing the TV’s in the lounge and in Rugby as “digital billboards” to display animated advertisements for various groups on campus, and I would like to elaborate on this project throughout next year, increasing both the amount of ads and their presence on campus by adding new monitors to other buildings. Beyond this, I would like to create a revamped electronic Daily Bulletin to take advantage of the all of the technology that students have adopted over the last few years (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc). I think in total, these changes would have many significant impacts and would greatly enhance student life and campus activities for the better.

 

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