Prefect candidates to deliver speeches

 

During the junior class meeting on Wednesday, April 23, junior Prefect candidates will speak in front of the junior class. Prefects serve on both the Prefect Council and the Honor Board. Students will have a chance to vote after the assembly.

Female Candidates:

Ari Berman ’15

 1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect. Hopefully, with the endorsement of you, my peers and classmates, I will represent the vast aspirations of our class. That is to say, I will be your spokeswoman, your voice, your representative.

 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.

One could say that I often take the term “participatory” to tremendous levels. For example, I hold 3 leadership positions in my Jewish youth leadership group, more commonly known as USY (United Synagogue Youth). I am the President of my Synagogue’s chapter, while also holding a seat on Regional General Board as Israel Advocacy VP. As part of regional board, I direct all Israel Advocacy for California, Nevada, Colorado, and Hawaii. My third and most recent position is the elected Israel Affairs VP on International General Board.   Since I am in charge of Israel Affairs for the international USY community, I must ensure that I am representing all opinions and interests in regards to Israel. Working with my fellow board members, I innovate and execute programs that are both educative and enjoyable. Leading USY has equipped me with an arsenal of skills that reflect nicely into the structure of Prefect Council.   That being said, if elected to Prefect Council, I will be able to improve the already-wonderful HW community while cooperating with my fellow prefects. In addition to my participation in USY, I have created my own up-and-coming organization, FIRST (Females in Research, Science, and Technology) to assist those who are in the minority, that being women in science and math courses and professions. As the entrepreneur of this organization, I can start any project or organization without hesitation. Moreover, I am a Student Ambassador, member of the field hockey team, a Chamber Singer, and an artist. Now, while titles and lists of my leadership can be easily conveyed on paper, what allows me to smoothly balance all of these positions is much harder to express. HOW do I lead? I am a tenacious leader; I am determined to reach the goals I set, no matter how daunting they may seem. Furthermore, I lead by example; since I am a “liberal arts” student, I take a liberal arts approach to representation by conveying all ranges of HW interests. I have what my Yiddish grandmother calls “chutzpah”, or boldness to achieve and imagine.   I will be your fearless leader!

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

The Honor Board is what makes Harvard Westlake such an intrinsically unique environment. From the Honor Board (and in relation, the Honor Code), comes our habit of leaving our lockers unlocked, our laptops and backpacks left on the pavement. I adore the trust that the Honor Code has built among our students.   At the same time, there is still much ambiguity about the function of the Honor Board. While we know that the Honor Board provides a student perspective, and thus some needed background into every infraction, we need to expand the visibility of the Honor Board itself, not the anonymous cases that it views. With expanded visibility of the Honor Board, we may understand why the Honor Board is so closely connected to the Honor Code.

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

I don’t believe in making campaign promises that I am not sure I can deliver on.   I wouldn’t change the homework load, the required core classes, or the amount of chocolate currently in the cafeteria. Since I am not 100% sure that I can deliver those promises (as much as I’d like to), I won’t promise you that. I will, however, seek to change one thing. I want to change how we approach opportunity at Harvard Westlake. HW is incredibly opportunistic environment. With that said, we can afford to expand this environment.   Starting an organization, a charity, an academic program, or even the amount of chocolate in the cafeteria can be hard, especially since Administration is busy ensuring our school maintains its quality. I want to ease this gap, and allow creating something large-scale in the community an easy feat. But how can we do this? Simple. Have you ever been to change.org? Change.org is a petition website that allows users to “sign” on a request. When this request reaches the allotted signature count, the petitioned party, whether it be the government or a small company, receives a presentation from the petitioners, who try to sell their cause. I imagine a hwchange.com, where students create petitions, and when a petition reaches, say, 40 signatures minimum, a combination of Prefects, Deans, and Administrators will meet with the petitioners to see if the cause is just and necessary. With hwchange.com, HW will be putting the power to fulfill your own promises and desires in your hands. Hwchange.org will round out Harvard Westlake’s opportunistic environment.

 Katherine Calvert ’15

 1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect. Apparently Mr. Common’s job isn’t open.

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

I feel that I am qualified for this position for several reasons. The first is I believe that I possess the leadership qualities necessary; I am currently the chair for a charity group of high school girls where I oversee all the fundraisers and service projects that we do. I also like to think that I am a creative individual who would bring completely new ideas to the table next year. Most of all, and I believe most importantly, I am passionate. I am passionate about Harvard-Westlake having been around it since the age of 5 and I want to see changes made for the next generation of students.

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

I feel that the Honor Board is not what needs to be fixed at HW but the attitude surrounding it. It is that attitude, the excess of stress on everyone, that leads students to feel desperate enough to cheat. For this reason I do not believe that the Honor Board is the problem, but the attitude here that needs to be changed. This will not be an overnight change, as it is practically instilled in us, but that does not mean that changing some homework or due date policies won’t make a difference in the long run.

 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?

I would like to change the aspect of community at Harvard-Westlake. We, the students and administration, talk a lot about what a “community” there is here but I think there are many improvements that can be made, through more effective means than Civitalks. I would use the influence of the Prefect position to create new events to not only bring the HW community together but also create a community amongst our school with others.

Sloane Chmara ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for senior prefect.

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

I think I possess many characteristics that qualify me to lead as a senior prefect. Firstly, I care deeply about Harvard-Westlake and my peers and I am committed to being a part of the change that will make us an even better school and student body. I am involved in many aspects of life at HW, from academics to athletics to performing arts. I feel as though I am relatable to most of the student body and I understand what my peers are concerned about and what they want to change. I am a determined worker capable of cooperating and collaborating with others, and I would love the opportunity to do that with students, faculty, and administration next year. Also, I am creative and like to think outside the box when it comes to problem solving, which I think is an important quality to have in leading a community towards change and improvement. I believe that I can provide a fresh look at the way our prefects are running HW now and offer another opinion from the point of view of a student that has been at Harvard-Westlake as an outsider to the prefect council. I have always thought of myself as a leader who is capable, not only of creating my own ideas for myself, but also of being an example for others to be inspired by and look up to. This means that I try to inspire people to be leaders themselves, not necessarily to follow me and the paths I choose to take. In my life, I have primarily been a leader to my younger brother. As an older sister, I always set an example for him as a student, sibling, child, and friend. I appreciate the way my brother looks up to me a great deal because it drives me to continue showing him the best example possible, knowing how much he trusts me. I have also been a counselor in training at summer camp, leading a group of 6th grade boys for 2 weeks in their daily adventures. From this experience, I learned that being relatable and cooperating are the characteristics that lead to the most successful and positive experience between a leader and a younger group. In school, I have also been a leader in my classes and extracurricular activities. In dance, I have always worked in the same class as younger students, allowing myself to both collaborate and lead younger students with the same passions as me. In this way, I feel that I am prepared to work in and with the prefect council as a senior who may be older in age, but equal in passion and determination.

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

I think that the Honor Board is the best way to govern our student body, though I believe there is still room for improvement in the aspects of the board’s transparency and ability to truly help students. Because Harvard-Westlake is home to such special, honorable students, I think it is wonderful that we utilize the student body’s trust in their elected leaders to interpret the Honor Code and lead the Honor Board. I think the Honor Board matures Harvard-Westlake students in the way that students work together with faculty and administration as equals interpreting the Honor Coad, rather than teachers punishing students as adults do to children lower than them. I also believe that students are able to learn more from the Honor Board and be inspired to change the ways they work, being that they are addressed by students like them going through the same, stressful life at Harvard-Westlake. I believe the Honor Board is the best way to govern our community because I know that if I got myself into a situation that broke the Honor Coad, I would feel most comfortable going before a board of peers that I elected and trust to interpret my situation. Though I believe this is a positive institution, I think there are definitely features that can be improved. I believe these changes would be appropriate and necessary due to the fact that I have not been on prefect council before, nor have I had direct experience with the board, so these are aspects that an outsider like me may want to be changed as well. These improvements would focus on the transparency of the board and the overall effectiveness of improving our student body through the actions and power of the Honor Board. As a student that has never been involved in the Honor Board, I personally don’t know much about the details of the board: the process of determining penalties, if certain infractions automatically carry specific punishments, or if each case is seen as completely separate from all others, etc. I think these questions are important for the student body to know to better understand the Honor Board, while still, of course, maintaining the privacy of each student that comes before the board. I also believe that there should be more done within the Honor Board to help students and identify the source of their urge to break the code. If we can help students feel more secure academically, then we can prevent further infractions, and therefore take another step toward bettering our community. Harvard-Westlake can be a stressful environment, so aiding students through the Honor Board would make it a more positive, efficient institution.

 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?

One thing in Harvard-Westlake’s community I would change is the amount of pressure we students feel to be perfect, brilliant, young adults on a daily basis. We go to a school that specifically utilizes its resources to prepare us for college, and Harvard-Westlake does a great job of that. What we don’t do a great job of is remembering that we are still teenagers who require relaxation and fun interspersed in our lives. I think that because we are so pressured by our teachers, parents, and ourselves, many more problems arise other than stress. Many people find that Harvard-Westlake lacks school spirit and unity, thus the creation of the unpopular ‘Civitalks’. I think that if Harvard-Westlake students were happier and less stressed with their school work and all of the competition and pressure put on our shoulders, then we would be more inclined to spend our time being a community and supporting each other in activities like sporting events or club meetings. Instead of saying “Sorry I can’t come to the club meeting at break because I have to cram for my test next period”, students should feel free and able to attend those meetings and get more involved in our community. I also think that if students were happier and felt like they didn’t have to compete with every student around them, we would feel motivated to support Harvard-Westlake as a positive institution where we enjoy going to learn and thrive, not a place where we feel insecure and not good enough. I personally love Harvard-Westlake and I want everyone else to love and appreciate it as much as I do. That is why I think I can truly help make a difference in our community. As a Senior Prefect, I would strive to make everyone’s learning experience more positive and less intimidating. I would try to restore the balance of intense academics with well-deserved time for fun and for just being teenagers. Honestly, I’m not quite sure of all the possible outlets I would have the opportunity to use as a prefect, but I know I would do everything I can to make Harvard-Westlake students happier and more successful teenagers as students and as young adults. I know that I cannot reduce the amount of homework we have, nor can I make the school week shorter, but I do think I can make our community happier and better with the help of the students, faculty, and administration. Because Harvard-Westlake is such a special school with so many resources, we should utilize everything we have to make our experience unique in the way that we learn and live, ultimately making us a stronger, better community.

Enya Huang ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect.

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

I was a freshman Student Council member and integrated innovative ideas with customs such as a t-shirt design contest for Spirit Day, and helped plan a charity semi-formal dance, A Spring in Your Step, at the Upper School that gave members of the two campuses a chance to mingle. Outside of academics I am first chair violist in two orchestras and have experience as a team player and as a leader who can both make critical decisions and integrate suggestions for the best outcome.

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

What I appreciate about the Honor Board is how infractions are evaluated case-by-case. While some instances of breaking the Honor Code are self-evident, these black-and-white cases demonstrate the importance of cases that are not so clear-cut. Circumstances like the latter require special care instead of quick decisions based on compartmentalized aspects of the case at hand. What has led me to these opinions is that we are young adults with a highly developed sense of morality and right and wrong. Thus when someone does violate the Honor Code, the factors that cause this violation may be extraordinary and must be handled as such.

 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?

I would try to lessen academic stress. Unless other activities are taking place, each day after school the lounge could be reserved for review sessions in whatever subjects are needed. A schedule for subject sign-ups could be emailed a week beforehand, and the following week the lounge would accommodate these subjects. Prefect Council could work with Peer Tutoring to accomplish this plan. I would use the influence of the position of Senior Prefect to change our community to make it even more adaptive to needs such as in the method described above. Prefect Council serves as the voice of students’ need to the administration, and an effective prefecture makes for a happier student body and an easier job for the administration, both of which would improve our community as a whole. As a Senior Prefect, I would champion any and all suggestions that can better our student lives, and no cause is too small.

Hana Kateman ’15

 1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect.

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

Although the kind of leadership experience I’ve had might not seem relevant to the Prefect Council, the experiences I’ve had have actually granted me skills that are very valuable in the type of leadership that we need to represent our class. Two of my favorite extracurricular activities are working as a teacher’s assistant at my temple each Sunday, and working as a Counselor in Training at UCLA’s Camp Bruin Kids. Both of these activities involve working with kids that are much younger than we are, the skills that I’ve developed through both activities are just the kinds that a Prefect should have. Little kids have the ability to make clear exactly what they want, and as counselors and teachers can be intimidating to them, they often come to me as a liaison. Because of this, I’ve learned how to approach adults who are in charge with the students’ and campers’ desires, and to balance the adults’ rules with what the kids want. And, since kids don’t very easily give up, we usually come to a compromise that works out in their favor. This is the type of leadership that I think we need on Prefect Council. We’re all old enough, and mature enough, to know what we want, and to think of creative ways to get there. The type of leader we need for our class is not someone who can tell us what to do, but one who helps facilitate getting us what we want, and who will work with the administration to create a compromise that the student body can happily accept.

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

The Honor Board deals with very difficult situations, and for that reason, it’s hard to find a good balance between transparency and the protection of students who’ve made a mistake. I believe the Honor Board does have a noble mission in trying to help students grow from their mistakes, rather than just trying to punish them. However, I also believe that it’s important to learn and grow from each other’s mistakes as a community, which is why transparency is so important. This year, Civitalks was introduced to build community. Many students, including myself, sometimes found ourselves thinking that our time could have better been spent studying or sleeping. However, the basis of Civitalks should not be taken for granted – to use discussion to grow together as a community. One way to fulfill this goal is to start using the time for Civitalks to have monthly, or quarterly, discussions about Honor Board cases, where students can discuss and come to their own conclusions about what repercussions to certain actions should have been, and why or why not the Honor Board’s decision was a fair one. This way, the whole student body can get involved in discussing and understanding honor at Harvard-Westlake.

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?

The first thing that I’m sure many people think of when they see this question is stress. Even the most relaxed of us have faced the late night English essay writing/procrastination anxiety. Although some stress and competition is what helps Harvard-Westlake maintain a hard-working academic culture, the amount placed on our student body can sometimes be a little too much to bear. The middle school recently implemented, “R & R” days, where they get both a day without homework, and a late start day. This would be very helpful at the Upper School, especially the homework-less nights. Sometimes after a long day of school, homework is just too much to add on. However, even when a night is spent without completing it, the stress around having to eventually do it still lingers. By implementing one or two days a quarter without homework, we could have time to catch up on old work, and to just relax. As a Prefect, I would work to not only create these ideas, but also implement them, demonstrating to the administration how important just a few days of relaxation could be to our class. More importantly, I would listen to every idea that any of our class had, and work just as hard to make those ideas materialize.

Alex Lopes ’15

1. For what position are you running?

Senior Prefect

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

I think I am qualified for the position of senior prefect because I see the potential Harvard Westlake has, and I have the desire to make it the best it can be for our community. I feel that my abilities as a communicator qualify me for the role of senior prefect. I believe that it is important to communicate the Honor Board’s actions and the reasons for those actions to our community. It is also important for the Honor Board to know the views of the student body.  In addition, I am not afraid to question an unfair decision or an idea or fight for something we, as a student body, believe in. I also feel that I am very approachable and friendly, which would make it easy to hear and help create a voice for our entire grade. I have played on sports teams my entire life, and it has taught my how to not only work together with other people, but it as also taught me about responsibility and commitment. Not only have I had leadership positions on some of my sports teams, I have also taken on leadership roles in community service, For the last two years, I have worked with an organization called A Place like Home. This year I led a multi-school formal attire drive for their community center in South Central.  The drive collected 120 pieces for the organization. In short, I know how to dedicate myself to things I truly care about, and I promise to dedicate my entire self to making our senior year as great as it can possibly be.

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

I think the honor board is a good system that balances perspective. By allowing students as well as teachers on the panel, it prevents the student from feeling attacked by all adults and allows the administration to understand the viewpoints of the students. The follow up with the case itself is another part of this system—the update to the student body of the infraction. I see the benefit in expressing the situation, demonstrating what actions have which repercussions, and I believe the student body deserves to know what is happening in their community. However, the way the summaries of each case is written emphasizes the punishment of the student, making the honor board seem like a scary, out-to-get-you system. In my mind, the emails just leads to students asking who was that (?), who did that (?),rather than helping students understand the real issues involved. Sometimes it’s not so easy to know what is the right thing to do.  If communications from the Honor Board sparked real conversations about the issues, instead of gossip and more questions, I think the email portion of the honor board would serve our community better, and if the honor board was less focused on punishment and more about support for and growth of the individual, this system could be really successful.

 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?

One problem that Harvard Westlake continually tries to address is the overwhelming vibe of stress and competition our school gives off. At a school with such an accomplished student body like Harvard-Westlake, people expect results: teachers expect a lot of work do be done, coaches expect wins, directors expect us to make rehearsals, parents expect good grades, and we expect ourselves to do our very best in everything. But if too many students have that constant weight on their shoulders, it makes the experience of high school overly stressful and sometimes too much to deal with. At our school there is a lot of competition in the classroom between students, and sometimes it’s hard to not compare yourself to the person next to you. We’re all programmed here to read, learn, and test. There is a lot of memorization and note taking, and not a lot of room in the curriculum for creative exploration. This forces many of us to think about things in really similar ways, because our constant quizzes and tests don’t really allow room for new ways of thinking; our structure makes it easy to compare ourselves to our peers. If we had the opportunity to learn and to be more creative with the material, instead of taking the test and forgetting it all the second we walk out the door, the information would be more meaningful and it would increase variability in the way we absorb and see the information. It’s hard to change the way classes are set up, but if we could find a way to integrate constructive and innovative projects into our learning we could learn in an additional new and fun way. Competition is also present between extra curricular departments. We already have to deal with the stress of school work and college, participating in the activities we love to do should not cause us more anxiety. The Preforming Arts Department and the Athletic Department are rigid institutions both huge time commitments, and both value our time and dedication to better their programs. We are all talented and have so much to offer, and both departments want to take advantage of our gifts. This makes them compete with each other for our time, and sometimes uncomfortably. There needs to be more fluidity for students to feel that they can: for example play on the soccer team and sing in the choir. We are forced to make a choice that often comes with a penalty. While coaches and performing arts teachers threaten our grades and playing time, they sometimes don’t realize that just because we can’t make one rehearsal or practice it doesn’t mean we don’t care about our team, organization, or club. If this source of competition in our community is addressed it will reduce some student stress.

Jensen McRae ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I’m running for Senior Prefect.

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

I was a co-chair of the student ambassador program in ninth grade, and this year I’m a peer support trainee, but neither of those things makes me qualified to be a prefect. A lot of people have asked me why I’m even running, seeing as how my last foray into student government was in seventh grade, in which I lost spectacularly. I think I’m qualified, however, because I am not afraid to be honest. Last year the Prefect candidates were asked whether the Honor Board should err on the side of transparency or privacy. I find this to be an utterly uninteresting question. What’s more important is that Prefect Council itself is transparent. So, to actually answer the question, I feel I am qualified because I will be honest with everyone about what it is we do, I will serve fairly on the Honor Board, and I will try to stay aware of what everybody really wants out of Prefect Council.

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

To speak candidly, I think there are some things that the Honor Board should change. I think the Honor Board should, more than anything, serve to defend students and protect their rights. If a student has committed an infraction, the Honor Board as a student-run entity needs to work directly with the student to make sure they are taken care of. Furthermore, the student should be encouraged to replace negative behaviors with positive ones, instead of drilling into the student’s head that they are wrong. Even though I am wary of wielding that much authority over my classmates, my first priority would always be the well-being of the students. I think that if these changes are enacted, the student body as a whole will be less fearful and critical of the Honor Board, and will actually appreciate the presence of it on campus.

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?

It’s easy to be a cynic about Harvard-Westlake and high school in general. People say that high school is supposed to be the best time of your life. I think that’s ridiculous; I don’t want to peak at 16, and I hope none of my classmates do, either. What high school should be is a place where you learn, and not just about academics. The personality tests and questionnaires we’ve filled out were a great start, but we need to take that further. If we really want to make our time here worth something, we need to focus less on grades and test scores and college and more on who we are as people. I think Harvard-Westlake, with all of its amazing opportunities, falls short in one critical area. We are encouraged to figure what we want to do, not what we want to be. We’re oriented towards college and jobs, not relationships and life. If you elect me to be your Senior Prefect, I can’t promise you I’ll make any of these changes. But I can promise you that I will try. I won’t promise you to make your voice be heard, because it’s not something that I can promise you. It takes a long time to get things done and often even those of us with the best intentions are sometimes incapable of following through. But like I said, I promise that I will always be honest with you, and I will always try to keep your best interests at heart. Seriously.

Rachel Persky ’15

1.) For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect.

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

I have been fortunate enough to serve on Prefect Council/Student Council for the past four years as a representative for both my grade and school. My experiences with both councils have given me an incredible opportunity to experience responsibility, face mistakes and challenges, and learn leadership skills that I can then apply to my daily life. Working on events such as Coffee House, Activities Fair, Fanatic Fest, and Homecoming Formal have taught me how to plan, work with others, and how to be reliable. I’m a hard worker and I am determined to push our class to it’s best potential. The most important thing to me is getting our voices heard in our HW community, and I am entirely ready to put all of my time and energy into bettering our community through the ideas and passions of our student body. I feel qualified for this position because I am one of you. Having been a part of many different activities, Peer Support, and the community service opportunities that our school offers, I have learned not only the meaning, but also the importance of dependability, trust, and receptivity. My experience, trustworthiness, and passion for enhancing our community all qualify me for this incredible opportunity and position.

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

I personally think that the Honor Board is one of the most important organizations in our HW community. It gives students a voice with the faculty and administration, along with their peers. Nevertheless, I do believe the Honor Board is not perfect, and is in need of some change. I definitely think that more clarity between the board and the student body is necessary. The board isn’t here to punish us, but it’s here to help better ourselves within and outside of our community, and I believe we need to make this idea a reality. Sitting on the board is a huge opportunity to voice the opinion of the student body. We are constantly under pressure and stresses that only we, as Harvard-Westlake students, can feel and apprehend; furthermore, the presence of student representatives on the board is vital to the fairness and success of the Honor Board. It is implemented to ensure that the bonds and relationships made between students and teachers are rebuilt, rather than remaining broken, which I believe needs more emphasis. Being able to sit on the Honor Board is a huge responsibility and a privilege that I have and am willing to take on.

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?

When I think about going to school every morning, I have to mentally prepare myself for the stressful environment of our campus. I’m just going to have to go ahead and face the fact that I can’t necessarily change that in one year, but I am willing to put all of my time and energy into making our last year at Harvard-Westlake something that we can satisfyingly look back on. Our deans, teachers, and administration witness the pressures and stresses that we go through daily, but they don’t experience them first-hand. We do. We have to constantly fight and trek our way through a single week of school, and sometimes even when we do try our best, we still don’t receive the credit and self-satisfaction that we deserve. This is what I feel needs to change. We are all so capable and talented, and when I look back at my senior year, I want to feel a sense of fulfillment. I am determined to reduce the stress and pressure through providing support and a sense of fun that we deserve. I want to make our mark on this campus through lasting traditions that we can create. Things like tailgating before football games, rest and relaxation weekends, senior study halls, and more senior privileges can all, in some way, provide an escape from the daily pressures we have to face. We, as the class of 2015, are so talented, smart, supportive, and so capable, and I think that together we can make next year truly a great one.

Audrey Wilson ’15

1. For what position are you running? 

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect.

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

I think my most valuable trait is my ability to relate with other people. I am, and have been, involved in different activities that have provided me with the experience and ability to connect with a wide range of people in our grade. I am an athlete on the track and cross-country teams, I work on the Chronicle, I debated in middle school, I have had my fair share of on-stage performances, I am a photographer, and I enjoy cooking and baking, among many other things. I love to meet new people, and I put my friendships as one of my top priorities. I believe that, as a representative of the entire class, a prefect should be someone who a voice for as many people as possible, and I believe I have that voice. I also take pride in the fact that I am not perfect. While this may seem strange to say, I think we need someone to hold a leadership position who isn’t perfect at being a leader. I am always willing to give one hundred percent, but I am not afraid to fail. If we want change at our school, we have to be willing to try and make that change, but it doesn’t always come with success. I want to be the person that will take a risk for something that our grade cares about. As far as Student Government goes, my experience is limited – my only successful campaign was in 5th grade when I changed the lyrics to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That,” and simultaneously did the dance while singing my speech. I do, however, have experience as a Leader in Training working with kids at my summer camp, leading my club soccer team in previous years, and choosing the hard right over the east wrong in everyday life. I think that my overall experience in and outside of our school provides me with the right skills to be a representative for our grade.

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

The Honor Board definitely has a negative presence on campus. I think it is most commonly seen as an administrative force out to catch people making mistakes and provide punishment. The only stories I have heard about the Honor Board have been sent out in anonymous emails and are usually sent after the larger more conspicuous “scandals” that the Honor Board has confronted. While I have my own impression, I know that this is neither the Honor Board’s intent nor its purpose. As Harvard-Westlake students, we have worked hard to earn our respect in our community, and honor is held in very high regard; I agree with this completely. However, I think that Honor Board cases occur more often than we recognize. I would like to hear about all the little infractions that go on rather than just the most important and controversial moments. With more transparency, I believe that the Honor Board’s role could be more constructive because we, as a community, would be able to see that little mistakes happen all the time, and it is okay. That being said, I do not condone cheating whatsoever, but I think that the Honor Board might be able to be seen in a more positive light, with a more supportive presence, if it is able to provide clarity to the mistakes we make.

 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?

One of the most prevalent issues at our school is stress. While I know that regulating any one person’s stress is entirely out of my control, I do think there are changes that can be made to ease tension throughout the school year. In our constant drive to achieve and excel, we tend to get caught up in our lives and commitments, and I am guilty of this too. Having the ability to choose to block first period or eighth period can help us tailor our schedule to our needs, whether you need to sleep in or leave campus early. Having a late start once a week can help us catch up on sleep. Even having treats available on campus once a month, or movies running in the lounge every Friday can help ease our nearsighted focus on school. If we have something to look forward to, we will be a little bit happier each day, and I think we all deserve happiness considering how hard we work.

 Xenia Viragh ’15

 1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior 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.

I would be a strong and qualified leader in our community because I am open-minded, receptive, responsible and driven. While I value my Harvard-Westlake experience, I know that there are changes that would make all of our experiences here even more meaningful. I took a risk when I moved from Bangkok to Los Angeles and enrolled in Harvard-Westlake as a sophomore, and am very glad I did! As evident by my move here, I am willing to take risks, especially risks that will improve our last year at this school together. Because I have not attended Harvard-Westlake since 7th grade, I bring a fresh, new perspective to our student body. I have been exposed to extremely different schools and thus have seen what works and what does not work in a vast range of situations and institutions. Although this is only my second year at Harvard-Westlake, I have been very involved with Community Council, Peer Support, and even founded the Photography Club! My experience in Community Council and Peer Support has taught me to be a receptive and compassionate leader. I am approachable and open to new ideas, and have the communication and leadership skills necessary for our class’ ideas to be put into action. I have translated my diverse experiences into effective and innovative leadership, and I will apply my experiences to Prefect Council if elected.

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

Although the Honor Board has good intentions, I think that the institution has room to grow in order to have a more positive effect on our community. It has set itself up as a formidable organization on campus. While the Honor Board is advertised as a medium of student and administration communication, we seem to only hear about the administration’s decisions to punish students. Perhaps this is due to a lack of transparency within the system. I believe that we should be presented with a more thorough description of each case that would include the student’s argument and the specific details of the case while still maintaining anonymity. This would allow us to respect and understand more fully the administration’s ruling as a just punishment, not an inevitable result.

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

If I were elected senior prefect, I would make sure that as seniors, we all have a quiet, comfortable place to relax, decompress and nap. The lounge is a place for students to go to socialize, work, and eat, but it is often loud, messy and crowded. Although we love having fun in the lounge, it is difficult to relax in peace. With the stress of first quarter senior year, I think it is essential that we have proper napping infrastructure, with clean couches, in a quiet and cozy place on campus, a place that we can go and rest during the school day after long nights of writing college applications. I believe that having a comfortably furnished room where students are able to recharge during the school day is crucial to the mental well being of our class, especially during our senior year. Not only is this room essential, but it is also attainable. There are many places that could be transformed into such a setting, for example, one of the upstairs classrooms in the library. Most of those classrooms are only occupied during a few periods of the day and would be more useful to our community if transformed into my proposed rest space.

Male Candidates:

Brian Adler ’15

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for Senior Prefect.

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

As I mentioned in my campaign just a few short weeks ago, 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. Projects are not completed through wishing. It takes someone to actually talk to the right people and not waste time – let me show you that I’m that someone.

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

I believe the Honor Board at its core is one of our most special institutions at Harvard-Westlake. Allowing students who have committed an infraction a perspective from their peers leads to a much more fair resolution. If elected, I will do my very best to ensure that I take everything into account and find the best solutions. However, like I have already brought up in both of my head prefect speeches, I think that our honor code system should be revised. I, and apparently much of our community, believe that the current system portrays distrust from the administration towards students and only causes frustration. To clarify – I think we should have a code like the one we already have in place, just much more refined. I would, if elected, standardize the code between all departments to make sure that it is always clear what is, and what is not honorable. I hear different interpretations often from different teachers, and this really isn’t fair to those who are indeed honorable – that is the large majority of us. Beyond making the Honor Code clearer, I plan to work towards getting rid of writing the honor statement on every single piece of work that we turn in. Will writing this sentence stop a cheater? I think not. If the argument is to at least remind us on every assignment to be thoughtful towards honor, a simple signature would serve the same purpose. Still, this will not make or break a cheater.

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?

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 tests, 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 most 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.

 Jackson Beavers ’15

1. For what position are you running?

 I am running for the position of Senior Prefect.

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

In my opinion, the kind of leadership required to be a strong and responsible prefect is something that one learns from being a part of a team rather than being in charge of a team. At all times a prefect must be conscious of their true duty: to represent their grade. A good prefect does not lead by telling their fellow students what they want, but instead by leading them towards the goals those students have expressed desire for. Because I’ve been a part of Harvard Westlake student government since the beginning of my ninth grade year, I have a significant knowledge of the systems prefects work by, the responsibilities that come with prefecture, and the way by which a prefect must work if they wish to complete their job to the best of their abilities.

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

In my opinion, the Honor Board gets a bad rap. At most schools, students accused of breaking rules are left to the opinions and judgment of a single disciplinary figure. Even if they face a group of judges, they tend to all be members of the administration. In reality, the Honor Board is a blessing. I know that’s not exactly a popular opinion, but it’s definitely what I believe. If I weren’t being honest with my opinions on the matter, then what use would I be as a prefect? Anyways, it’s obvious why the Honor Board is not exactly appreciated. It’s a disciplinary board. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, but any well functioning society or group requires one to function. My positive opinion of the board exists due to a very simple aspect of its being: the diversity of those given the power of judgment, especially the addition of our student prefects. Whereas other schools leave those suspected of misdoings at the hands of those with only discipline in mind, the wide variety of perspectives available on the Honor Board creates an attitude centralized around rehabilitation and the good of all students, including the student being charged with breaking the honor board. Due to my experience on the board, I have seen first hand the effort that our prefects put in to bettering the honor board every day, through ethics based conversations and constant debate over the processes by which the Honor Board runs. Very few people appreciate being disciplined. But at the very least, I think we can all appreciate a group that actually cares and works for the good of the student.

 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?

I have plenty of opinions of how we could change our school for the better; However, my opinions are not the only ones that matter. In the end, I’ll continue to use my influence as a prefect the same way I have for the past 3 years. I’ll use it to make real the desires of my fellow students, and create a roar from the individual voices of my grade.

Matt Beyer ’15

 1. For what position are you running?

Senior 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.

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 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.

Jonathan Heckerman ’15

 1. For what position are you running?

Senior Prefect.

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

In seventh grade, while many were skating through their classes, I was slaving away at mine and at times I could barely keep up in some of them. This might sound ridiculous if you know me now—and it was seventh grade after all—but I’m terribly slow at homework and that was life for me back then. Three or four hours a night. But I learned how to work, and I’ve continued to plow through tough classes since. How much formal leadership experience do I have? None. But I will give the task of Senior Prefect-ing the same attention and (perhaps overly) intense work ethic I give my academic work. Beyond that, I can offer nothing.

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

“To err is human”

— Alexander Pope

That’s probably so cliché you’ve never actually seen it in writing. And, I know, I know, it’s a really unoriginal quote. But at a school like Harvard-Westlake where everything is pressuring us to be not just smarter and stronger, but better people, it’s tough to remember that we all screw up. I mess up all the time, and I don’t think we should penalize people so harshly when they do. Sure, cheating is bad, but so is being honest just because you’re scared of being punished. I want a more lenient enforcement of the honor code because I think the student body deserves not only to be trusted more, but also to be given some slack. By the way, the second part of that quote (which I didn’t know until I Googled it right now) is, “to forgive, divine.”

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?

Have you ever wanted to share an idea with a prefect but been to shy to do it? I have, and I think the way to encourage students to share your timid, genius ideas is to create an independent website where you can submit them online. It would be anonymous for any student who feels awkward sharing his or her ideas, and would take advantage of the immense combined intelligence of our grade and community. And it would be easy, too—it would take maybe two hours to get the site up and running. After that, it would be up to all of us to make the most of it.

 Timothy Song ’15

 

1.) For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Senior Prefect.

2.) What makes you feel that you are qualified for the position? Please describe any leadership experiences you have had.

As a debater, backstage manager, and Chinese Cultural Club fundraising Co-Chair, I possess three crucial traits that make me qualified for the position of Senior Prefect. They are the ability to organize and gather individuals around an issue from backstage managing, knowledge of how to convey the goals and motivations behind a cause from debating, and finally the ability to follow through with achieving those goals from fundraising for community service. I possess the social skills necessary to articulate ideas and get your thoughts across in a group setting as well as the tools necessary to lead and organize a group. This past year, I had the opportunity to lead a group of middle school debaters as a debate instructor at Claremont McKenna College as well as fundraise for a laser tag event and a free basketball clinic for the youth of Chinatown, among other amazing initiatives. I would use the tools that I gained from these experiences to serve you guys, the HW community. Furthermore, I think that my strongest qualification is that I am naturally a fair and compassionate person. Whenever I am confronted with a problem, I always look holistically at the situation at hand and try to solve the problem in the most moral and thoughtful way possible. I will carry those principles with me as Prefect.

3.) What are your thoughts on the Honor Board and what has led you to these opinions?
I believe that the Honor Board as an institution is a great way to allow for the students to have a say in how they are punished for their wrongdoings. It helps to ensure that fair and moral punishments are given to students equal to their infractions on the Honor Code. I also think though, that as a whole, the Honor Board needs to work on its transparency. I believe that decisions should not only come from the Prefects serving on the Honor Board, but also should be reviewed and adjusted based upon student input. We could have a survey on Honor Board Rulings directly following the release of case details about how the student body felt about the handling of the case and how we can improve for the future. I don’t believe that our current system of holding a makeshift “meeting” in FJ’s office is sufficient to allow for input from the student body. Rather, we should be making cohesive decisions on how we handle one of the most sensitive issues on our campus.

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

The one thing that I would like to change about Harvard-Westlake’s community is improving our belief that we can make tangible change in our community. As a Prefect, I would expand our student government so that we could have more student involvement in the planning of events and greater student input on how we can tackle the challenges that we face. I propose holding a “vent session” every cycle during break or after school, where a member of the Prefect Council would sit in a room and listen to input from students on problems and solutions that they see in our community and proposals for new programs that they would like to see put into place. (Similar to Mr. Common’s initiative earlier this year in the quad) We would then take those suggestions and turn them into initiatives to either introduce new programs or solve existing problems. Committees of students who are interested in those issues could lead these initiatives. Lets take Marko’s idea for having a dedicated room for sleeping during break for example. He would be able to propose it to a Prefect Council member and see it go through the system until finally, we had a dedicated room for sleeping in Rugby. Not only would students be directly involved in the decision making process of what issues we would tackle, but they would also be informed about how their plans were taking effect. I would recommend an expanded guest speaker comprised parents, relatives, and friends of the Harvard-Westlake community every two months. The program would consist of various speakers ranging from successful business individuals to even sports players and successful individuals in various other fields of study. As Prefects, our job is to be a liaison from you to your administration and if elected, I will strive my best to fulfill that role in our community. I would be honored if you would be so kind in giving the opportunity of serving you as a Senior Prefect.

 

Teddy Sokoloff ’15

 

1. For what position are you running?

Senior Prefect

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

From my experience at HW, the same student government representatives have been elected from year to year. Now I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; sometimes stability and consistency are what is necessary for success. Yet, a change in leadership can also be beneficial. If elected Senior prefect, I can bring a fresh new mind to the council. I have also taken up leadership positions before. Way back in 7th grade I was the “class senator”. In the 8th and 9th grade I was a part of the Harvard Westlake Charity Council, and this year I am apart of the HW Community Council. Also, I was one of the 9th co-chairs for the Student Ambassador program. However, I’m not saying that because I have held these “leadership” positions, that the student body should vote for me. The description of the prefect duties states, “The purpose of the Prefect Council is to represent and advocate the interests of the student body to the faculty and administration based on their overarching purpose to better the community as a whole.” I consider myself an approachable guy, and I definitely can empathize with other students when it comes to the pressures of the HW environment. Honestly, I just want our class to have an unbelievable senior year, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will make that happen as senior prefect.

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

I have mixed feelings about the honor board. On the one hand, I feel it is necessary as a mechanism to keep students honorable and ethical. However, I don’t know that much regarding the process of the Honor Board and what an actual trial looks/feels like. I feel that all HW students should know this information, regardless of their opinion of the Honor Board. Last year there was a statistics project regarding breaking the honor code, and the majority of the students who participated said they have cheated. Clearly our school isn’t filled with bad and unethical people. It must be the HW environment that is driving students to such extremes. I’m not saying that the Harvard Westlake administration should change the academic course-load, and to be honest, I don’t have a solution for this problem. I don’t think anybody does. We all have our qualms about the honor board; it’s a controversial system. But it is an imperative part of student life.

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?

I have always loved “HW AT THE MIC”. My one problem with it is that we don’t have teachers speak to us in an informal setting more often. I feel that the relationship between faculty and students is one of the most important parts of an educational experience. I know a lot of students who want to get to know teachers outside of the classroom but are too nervous to approach them if they don’t have anything to say that doesn’t involve classwork. At Harvard Westlake, we have such a wide array of unbelievably talented and amazing teachers; why not use them as a resource to discuss issues that may not involve academics. What I propose is to establish some sort of optional time period (after school or during break) where teachers can lead informal talks with students. For example, teachers could share stories that they feel would help students or talk about an important issue to them. The discussion could be serious or light hearted. This idea could one, connect kids closer to teachers, and two, could relieve stress.

 

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