Head Prefect candidates to deliver speeches to sophomores, juniors

Candidates for next year’s Head Prefects will present speeches in front of the junior class on Monday, March 17. This will be an opportunity for the candidate to talk about why he or she feels believes that they are the best choice for the position. The Head Prefects are the leaders of Student Council and are the chairs of the Honor Board.

On Wednesday, March 19 there will be an assembly in Taper where the candidates will speak in front of the sophomore and junior classes. After these speeches, an email will be sent to the students to vote for Head Prefect.

Female Candidates:

Enya Huang ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for Head Prefect.

2. 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, I will run for Senior Class Prefect if I do not win.

3. 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.

I served as a freshman Student Council member at the Middle School and, among other things, helped integrate a t-shirt design contest for Spirit Day and a charity semi-formal dance, A Spring in Your Step, at the Upper School that welcomed Middle Schoolers as well. Outside of the classroom I have been viola section leader in two orchestras for the past four years.

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

What I appreciate about the Honor Board is how decisions 1) are made case-by-case instead of being black and white and 2) allow students, in the form of Prefects, to act as intermediaries between the student in question and the faculty. The student presence eases the transition between the student’s and the faculty member’s points of view to best assess how to handle the infraction. What led me to believe this is the importance of student representation in considering student infractions.

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

I would attempt to relieve some stress from academics. The lounge can be regularly reserved for review sessions on various subjects. A schedule for sign-ups in certain subjects can be emailed beforehand, and the lounge will be organized to accommodate these subjects. Prefect Council can work in tandem with Peer Tutoring to accomplish this plan.

Sarah Winshel ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I hope to lead our senior class as one of two Head Prefects.

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

My hope in running for Head Prefect is not to have a title to brag about, because when there is no true intention behind a name, it is meaningless. If I do not make Head Prefect, I will unquestionably run to be a Senior class Prefect. I want to change our school – I have growing goals and shrinking time and no matter how or where, I am going to give all that I can to our school before I leave it.

3. 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.

“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.” I like that quote. I’m going to be honest with you in the name of leadership and admit that I just found it on the internet. However, let’s not let that take away its value. I have had the honor of experiencing Prefect Council for the last two years. Experiencing the mistakes and the challenges, the successes and the lessons. And through each moment, I have watched myself learn, watched us learn as a body. But what I’ve learned hasn’t been from any “education” about paradigm. Had I only educated myself, not pushed myself to try new things outside of what was expected or even, at first, allowed, I would not be able to call myself experienced. We did not take no for an answer. No Semiformal? That’s okay. Yes Homecoming!

To lead a body that has the potential to be as powerful as our Prefect Council could be, experience can be invaluable. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly, what more I can try for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that… This year I have also had the privilege of working with the Workload Survey Committee as a student representative, and have discovered things about the mindsets of both our students and faculty that I would never otherwise have seen. The knowledge has thrown new light onto HW for me. The people I’ve gotten to know through it, the numbers and answers I’ve read from hundreds of students in each grade, all have given me new insight.

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

The Honor Board is one of the more controversial aspects of Harvard-Westlake life. I support its role in our community, and often how it is run internally. However, dissent against the Board is real, and for this reason, I wouldn’t want to spend time trying to convince everyone to feel just as I do. Instead, I feel a change must be made. Teachers, administration, deans, even the most well liked and relatable of them, cannot understand fully day to day student life. It’s not a fault of theirs. But we, as students, understand. We are confronted by the same difficulties and temptations, so we make Board decisions with these in mind. I have experienced on every account how this plays into the actions of the Honor Board. Balanced with the experiential wisdom from adults with years more of experience, I think our student body is given a rare opportunity in the life of the Board. But, this last year has been both my introduction and chance to observe. I have recognized that elements do need to be bettered, and am more than prepared to do so. Maybe most prominently, there is an acute disconnect between what goes on in that room and what the student body later reads, hears, and thinks about it. This divide is widely-acknowledged, and important steps have already been taken to better the process, but I’m ready to do more, to fine-tune the parts that still need it, whether that be a mere change in communication style or fundamental reconstruction of the process again. The Honor Board is always said to be created by the students, for the students, and I vow to work toward every student feeling this way – that the Honor Board serves them, and they are proud to call it an unparalleled facet of our community.

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

Competition. Though it challenges us and inspires us, it also can be what destroys us. I think that the fundamental problem at Harvard Westlake is the aggressive competition embedded in students. Fighting that mold that students fall into has been my goal since I arrived at Harvard-Westlake, though only recently was I able to identify what exactly it was I was fighting. Now that I see it, I have a plan. One of the hardest things to change is an environment, but that’s what we need to do. It starts with the little things, the things that people don’t even notice until they’re different. Where I want to start is with the awards ceremony at the end of the year. Though some awards are justified and endlessly valuable – those that honor community service and the memory of students who have come through our school and made a true difference – there are others that are destructive. There is no need, in my mind, to single out those who are “the best” English student, “the best” scientist, or “the best” at anything else. Because we are one at Harvard Westlake; we should be proud of all our accomplishments together and praise each other for what we appreciate about each other, not just what someone else deems the best.

Male Candidates:

Brian Adler ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I’m running for the Head Prefect position.

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

Absolutely – whether or not I am a Head Prefect, I still believe I can serve a valuable role on the Honor Board and help represent the Harvard-Westlake student body. I would still be thrilled to be a Senior Prefect even if I was not elected as a head prefect.

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.

This year I have been the Co-President of the Harvard-Westlake Environmental Club and in previous years, the Computer Building Club and the Robotics and Tech. club. I have a pretty large background of leadership, but even beyond that, many years of caring and being passionate about the groups I’ve been involved with. In these experiences, I’ve learned how to negotiate and deal with the administration cordially, how to work with other students and teachers, and how to set up huge events where money, too, is a factor.

I’m the type of person that can make things happen and get the ball rolling. There is not a project too big or too complicated to be undertaken. I can offer perseverance to the council, and would be honored to prove that to the entire student body.

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

I think that, in general, it is a wonderful and truly special organization. It is very uncommon for a school to have something like the Honor Board where students can offer they’re prospective and recommendations for honor cases, and it is one that we should feel very lucky to have. Though our administration is certainly thorough and supportive, some issues are better seen through the eyes of those who are in similar positions – other students.

With the organization, I believe we see more fair punishments and possibly even more realistic expectations. If there is something that the student body thinks should be reformed, I would like to be the person that they come to with their ideas and thoughts. I too would like to see a few things changed, and whenever we get the chance, I look forward to discussing those.

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

Choosing one is very difficult because there are a few things that come to mind, but I will have to go with reforming the rules on how many tests a day should allow for the relocation of one. Three, simply, is a lot. I don’t think that everyone would take advantage of the two rule, even I don’t with three, but I think it should be an option because sometimes it is way too much. For those with many extracurricular, one test a day is already a lot of stress, especially once you get home at 8:00PM to study. Two – that’s starting to ask for more trouble. Three, I believe, is borderline unreasonable for some people. Beyond that, quizzes do not apply to the rule which is somewhat bizarre. You can have two tests and two quizzes in one day, and not be able to move any of them. This would be the first place that I would start, and I truly hope that you all will give me a chance to have this conversation with the student body.

Matt Beyer ’15

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 have had. If you have been a Prefect, please be specific to your experience on Prefect Council.

I know what it’s like to appreciate Harvard-Westlake for its unparalleled resources and opportunities, and I know what it’s like to wish I never came here in the first place. I think that my experiences with diverse feelings towards the school have helped me develop an understanding of its effective and ineffective tendencies. I also have an innate interest in what makes each person in our community feel the way he or she does about being a Wolverine. I talk to people who feel that they “happen” to go here, and to people who feel that they “get” to. I know what Harvard-Westlake has the potential to be, and I want us to get to go there. In short, I’m qualified because of empathy, curiosity, and ambition.

Describing leadership experiences is interesting; I haven’t had experience with a leadership title. I think that when somebody is rewarded a leadership title such as Head Prefect, the best thing he or she can do is realize that leaders and followers don’t exist in set terms. Prefects are meant to be an extension of the student body – it’s in the definition. That means they work off of each other, so I don’t think the two should be so quick to separate themselves into categories like leaders and followers. I want it to be clear that the Prefects have the same interests as the student body. I don’t want to decide what our community represents, I want to represent our most intelligent decisions. I’m experienced in being an active part of the student body, and I think that’s the most important viewpoint to be familiar with, so that as a member of the Prefect Council I would be able to see both sides of the important relationship between the two.

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

From what I can tell, the Honor Board does a generally solid job. It is obvious to me, from having various teachers who serve on it and taking multiple well-thought-out surveys, that they try hard to be as transparent as is appropriate. Sometimes I agree with the decisions ultimately made, and sometimes I don’t, and I think that’s fitting because their job is to make what they feel are the best decisions, not the most popular ones. My main complaint regarding the Honor Board is that I feel like Prefect Council spends more time thinking about Honor Board cases than trying to prevent them. Cheating is a complicated, multi-faceted problem, and I don’t think that handling punishments of it should be the main focus when trying to prevent it.

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

It bothers me that I usually feel like Harvard-Westlake is centered around grades more than knowledge. My Unconventional Leadership teachers recently gave our class tests that were completely knowledge-centered. Put simply, we took a break from what we were learning and took a test on what we had learned so far in the year. The next day, we reviewed the questions and talked about the reasons that certain answers were right and wrong. Our following meeting, we took the same test, with only the questions we previously missed individually. People who still didn’t get everything right then talked with the teachers and answered the remaining questions. In this format, everybody ends up getting an A on the test – but that’s not what’s important. Every single person understood the concepts from the year clearly after our test. Imagine if our core classes did something to the same effect. I think a step like that would show tremendous maturity on behalf of the school, and would greatly benefit students since they would retain more information for longer periods of time. This seems to me like a change with a reward that far outweighs its risk, and I know there are many other steps similar to this one to potentially be taken in our community.

Albert Choi ’15

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?

If I am not elected as head prefect I do plan to run for Senior Class Prefect.

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.

Having served as a class representative from 8th to 11th grade, I have learned a great deal and now am confident that I can be an effective head prefect. My experience on Prefect council has taught me that there are aspects that could be improved within the meetings, especially concerning how they are run. This year we have had a great deal of enriching and interesting conversation on ideological changes to our campus; however, I feel that steps can be taken in order to increase the practical productivity of the council. I understand that the position of Head Prefect is no easy task, but I feel that my experience will allow me to bring tangible benefits to the students rather than simple promises. During my two years on Prefect Council I have learned the essential tools required of an effective head prefect. Through helping run events such as Fanatic Fest and the upcoming March Madness tournament, I have gained important diplomatic, as well as practical, knowledge on how to properly put together an event. These new insights range from learning how to properly lead a discussion to simply knowing the right person to talk to on our campus when a fellow prefect has a request. As a prefect I have also sat on several Honor Board cases and have learned how to effectively handle a case and help both the community and individual students.

Within school, I have recently been elected as one of five team captains for our school’s football team. Outside of school I helped create and currently lead a small group of students who perform a monthly instrumental concert at the Magnolia Gardens retirement center. I coordinate with the staff at Magnolia Gardens and schedule rehearsals with the students so that we can give our best effort for the retirees at the center. This has given me the unique experience of communicating and organizing with students and administration members outside of school. I am also concertmaster at Reverie Youth Symphony Orchestra, and am in charge of a range of tasks. More importantly, the conductor relies on me mostly to be a liaison between the students and the administrators of the orchestra. This is an invaluable experience I plan on bringing to Prefect Council as I seek to serve as the connection between the students and faculty.

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

The Honor Board is an essential tool for our school that aims to build a community based on honesty and trust. Having served on the Board for a little over a year and a half, I have gained great admiration and respect for the institution’s ability to bring together the different parts of our community in a collective effort to help make our school a better place. As a prefect, one of my most important goals, if not my most important goal, is to serve the student body by expressing its concerns to the faculty so that students’ voices are heard. On the Honor Board, students and faculty work together to come to a solution that is not only best for the school, but also for each individual student that comes before the board.

After my time on the Honor Board, I have come to understand and respect the fact that the Honor Board is not simply a punitive institution that randomly doles out punishments. I truly admire how the Honor Board strives to maintain a balance between being punitive and rehabilitative. However, I do feel, as with all things, that the Honor Board is not perfect, and improvements can certainly be made. The Honor Board strives to determine fair consequences for students that break our school’s Honor Code. It tries to use each case as a learning experience for the other students on our campus. However, I feel that the students are not getting the necessary information and discussion to fully benefit from each case. I want to make Honor Board cases more transparent and available for discussion among the students so that our community can grow from each experience.

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

Many students at Harvard-Westlake pride themselves in their ability to be well rounded individuals with an array of commitments, while still being able to be diligent and responsible with their classwork. Our school does an excellent job of providing every student a fair and equal opportunity to pursue whatever interests them. In addition, every student has commitments outside of school that take up even more of their time. This lifestyle is bound to create an immense amount of stress for each student while taking out all of the enjoyment of a high school experience. I feel that Prefect Council should focus on fostering an environment within our school that reduces the stress that students must deal with on a daily basis.

As a result of many discussions within Prefect Council, I have developed a desire to make our school a much more enjoyable and relaxed place. Many students view high school as simply a stepping stone with their eyes ultimately set on college. Students often try to pile on as many AP’s, honors classes and commit themselves to as many extracurricular activities as they can possibly manage so that they look best for college. Almost none of them take time to “smell the roses” of high school. I want to change that. I want to give students a better opportunity to build a community with each other and, as our advisor Father Young says, give them an opportunity to “have fun.” I plan to do this by creating small groups within prefect council that are in charge of small aspects of our community that can be realistically improved upon. Within prefect council, we often get caught up with ideological debates and spend many of our efforts in conversations with little practical results. I believe that a balance between good conversation and small practical projects will overall improve our campus in meaningful ways. I want to create a high school experience for all students to truly enjoy, to give my own class a fantastic senior year to remember and to leave an impact that will benefit the rising classes for years to come.

Marko S Fejzo ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I am running solely for 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?

I will not run for senior class prefect because I want to let others have the chance to be prefect. Since I am already running for head prefect, it is unfair for me to get to have two chances- I’d rather let others who would rather run for senior prefect get that position. Going through an election is a stressful process and having yet another competitor just intensifies that.

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.

I have never run for student council at Harvard Westlake. I did run for Vice President of my elementary school but I lost. However, I do not believe student council experience is necessary to be a good candidate. I have unique ideas and am up to the challenge of being head prefect. We have had more or less the same prefects for our grade for the past 3 years, and I am full of fresh ideas. I also have leadership experiences elsewhere. I am the captain of my club swim team and was the founder and leader of the theremin club in 8th grade. Additionally, I am well known amongst my peers. I wore a different hat every other day for a semester in 8th grade because Ms. Miller challenged me to and am still known by some as “that hat guy”, even if they don’t know my real name. I also have a couple of other traditions- you will always see me with an orange shirt and on the last day of school I wear a toga. I am easily approachable for these reasons, and being easy to find and talk to is an important part of being a voice for the people.

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

The Honor Board has not been a major role in my life, but I feel it always has a negative connotation on campus. Even though the punishments are rightful and well-meant, it is still seen as a board for punishing people for major infractions. I think the honor board should not be a board that is known for punishing- that sounds more like a dishonor board. This is why I need your help. As a student body, we can transform the honor board from being an enemy to being a friend- a board to uphold and celebrate the honor of our classmates and our school. I know that many before me have advocated transparency, but I don’t think transparency is the issue. Transparency shows a focus on exposing the ways negatives are dealt with instead of highlighting the many positive members we have in our community. I think many people have forgotten the second to last line of our honor code: I will pledge my honesty to the school community, and I expect others to be responsible and to do the same. If a board with a focus on the negatives exists at this school, it shows that we do not expect others to be responsible and honorable. If we honor the honorable, the image of the honor board, prefecture, and school will be much more positive.

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

I would like to make school less stressful, as many of the honor board cases are people who have been swamped with work. One way to do this is to encourage people to uphold their honor as I talked about in question 3. An important part of being less stressed is getting more sleep. But balancing sleep and school is difficult to do. Although having rest and relaxation days would be appreciated, taking time out of school periods makes teachers feel more rushed which makes classes even more stressful. A solution to this problem is simply to get better at managing your time. However, Harvard Westlake does not offer formal training on time management- it is simply an expectation that you as a student learns it on your own. I propose that Choices and Challenges should cover time management as a topic. Many students need to learn time management as much if not more than they need to learn about substance abuse and other topics that are taught in C and C. There is a brief part in C and C on sleep and health, but this only covers the problem- many students are sleep deprived. Addressing the solution- teaching people better time management- is a simple and helpful way to lower your stress.

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