Candidate Statement: Sam Lyons

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for Harvard-Westlake Senior Prefect for the year 2012-2013.

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

Our school is very special in that there is such a variety of people within a single class.  There are artists, musicians, athletes, academics, and almost everyone fits in multiple categories.  Because of this, one of the important duties of Prefect Council is to cater to the concerns of the entire community and not leave any one group of people feeling voiceless.  Working in a small jazz group is very similar to this.  Within the group, there are lots of dynamic personalities that all want equal inputs into what the group will sound like.  If anyone is too dominant, or anyone is unheard, the sound is put off balance.  My experience leading multiple jazz groups has given me the opportunity to learn how to listen, mediate, and compromise.  The same dynamic is present on the sports teams I play on: cross country and track and field.  Oftentimes, I have had to make decisions that are for the good of the team rather than my own benefit.  Balancing commitments is a tough act that every Harvard-Westlake student has to deal with, but if my team or band needs me, I am always there for them.  As Prefect I would act in the same way; decisions that I would be part of would be for the whole class, not just individuals or myself.  Furthermore, I interact on a daily basis with a very diverse friend group from athletes to musicians to computer geniuses, so I am very exposed to their opinions.  Because I have not served on Prefect Council before, I am able to more effectively represent the entire student body, after having spent two years viewing the Prefect Council from the student perspective.  I love our school, and I want to give back to our community and make it a better place not only for our current student body, but also for the future classes and leaders that will go through our school.

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

The Honor Code is an integral part of our community.  It allows us so many freedoms and responsibilities.  However, in order to uphold its validity, there must be some system of repercussions if the code is broken.  I believe that if students are to have their situations mulled over by anyone, it should be by a capable group of the student body.  Not only that, the class should elect these students, so that the Honor Board consists of the students most fit for the job.  Harvard-Westlake’s Honor Board allows students to be judged by our peers rather than just the administration.  It is one of the best systems we could possibly have, because in our adolescence, we are so much more influenced by our peers than by the adults in our lives.  Having a system under which a student’s mistake is judged by other students leads to much more realistic solutions rather than simple castigation that would result in no reformation.  When a student judges their peer, they are very capable of seeing all sides of the situation; it hits a little closer to home than to an administrator.  Because of this, the Honor Board has the ability to make decisions that are not only right, but also fair.  In addition, the student who acts as a judge also learns from the experience.  From seeing the Honor Board cases, the student will now set a better example for the community, and best represent our student body.  If I were to stand before the Honor Board, I would be glad that I would be standing in front of smart, capable students elected by the student body.

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

Some of the most wonderful things that set Harvard-Westlake apart from other schools are the talented and interesting speakers and performers that come to our school frequently.  In my time at the Upper School, we’ve seen people from AIDS researchers to old time jazz singers to African dancers to groundbreaking female newscasters.  However, at these assemblies, we see the performance, applaud, and go back to class.  When the Jazz Band went to Argentina and performed at local high schools, the students stayed back in order to meet us on a more personal level.  We had a lot of opportunities to talk to and hang out with the students.  They learned a lot about us and our lives, and we got some insight into what they were like.  The hospitality and warmth we got from them was unrivaled.  I think that this would be a great change to our community, and a great opportunity to learn even more from the visitors, instead of just a very refined performance.  With the influence of the Senior Prefect position, I would lobby the administration for a reception after these assemblies, or at least a short break afterwards to give us a chance to meet our visitors, and allow them a chance to get to know us too.  This would not only be good for our community, but it makes HW look good to the greater community.