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Meet The Student Body President Candidates For The 2024-25 School Year

It’s the season for voting for our next student body president at NYC Museum School. Every year, we hold this election to give our students the opportunity to express themselves and their ideas about bettering the school. We interviewed the candidates running for the position, but gave them no time to prepare for the questions we asked. We did this to make sure the interviews reflected the candidate’s raw and authentic self. 

  1. Could you share a formative moment from your life that has shaped your desire to run for student body president?
  2. What personal qualities or values do you believe make you the best candidate to represent the student body?
  3. Can you share with us a passion or interest outside of academics or extracurricular activities that you’re particularly enthusiastic about, and how it influences your approach to leadership?
  4. Can you tell us about a setback or obstacle you’ve encountered, and how you overcame it? What did you learn from that experience that you can apply to your role as student body president?
  5. How do you plan to solicit feedback and input from your peers to ensure their voices are heard and considered in decision-making processes?

Ray Zhang

1. Ever since I was a kid I was never given a leadership role. This one time at my middle school, I was offered to try and run for student body president, and although I didn’t win I was able to see my friend win. I want to contribute the same sort of stuff he had contributed to my middle school. He made a lot of advantages that made me now want to look back at how much stuff we have been through, the journey, and stuff like that. Because of that, that motivates me to become a good president once I get a general leadership role in this school. 

2. So, I have a little brother, who sadly, is disabled, and I do need a lot of patience to deal with him and I take on a lot of responsibilities to take care of him. Therefore with these responsibilities, I am single-handedly responsible, and that I could be responsible, for whatever is going to happen in the future.

3. I have taken a lot of extracurricular activities but I will say, volleyball would be a good place to start. I play outside of school, I play for fun, however I am sometimes chosen as a leader, to pick teams, and I will say every time, the teams are usually satisfied with people enjoying their time with their teammates. So yeah, I consider that influential.

4. Again, my brother is disabled, and he had a stroke when he was younger and is constantly having seizures. This stroke has caused him to mentally be much younger than he is right now and therefore I need to constantly take care of him and be the one who is supporting him. Especially now that my parents have gotten old which has made me more responsible for him. I have to constantly take care of him so therefore I should be more than well prepared for whatever is to come.

5. I will host multiple discussions with my friends, and not just friends, but students within the school to make sure their voices are heard. I will talk about their voices within meetings, like PTA meetings, to make sure every student is represented in a specific way and maybe host events and panel talks about their feedback. In general I want to make sure everyone is included and feels themselves included in this school.

Johan Caceres-Liberato

1. I think that moving to the United States, not fitting in, being left out, and having to find my own way to adapt made me realize that I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Many others have moved to the US without speaking English and have felt excluded. I have personal experience with this, but thankfully, I was able to adapt and include myself in a school environment. However, I have family members who have not had the same success. So, being president to me means including everyone and making sure that no one is left out because I don’t want others to feel the way I did.

2. I think that dedication and a balance of independence and collaboration are important. I’m a free thinker with many ideas, but I can also adapt to others and work towards a common good. I’m able to approach people genuinely, showing interest in what they have to say while keeping my own goals in mind. I strive to bring everything together to create something beneficial for everyone.

3. I feel like history. I think that studying history teaches me that the things that have happened in the past still happen today and that even though we’re in a small school and we think that there’s no real application of leadership and learning from the past to push toward the greater good as I feel like history is always applicable in every sense because learning from other people’s mistakes to better yourself and be able to look forward and prevent those same things from happening so that there’s a common good.

4. A setback for me has probably been making friends. Sometimes you hang out with the wrong crowd or find people who may not be the right fit in the long run. Learning who appreciates you, your time, your ideas, and what you have to offer is really valuable. It’s important to find people you fit in with, who genuinely care about what you say and think, and who can work together with you towards a common goal. Not even necessarily for a common goal, but to ensure that you maintain your integrity and passion to do something meaningful with your life.

5. Over the past year as vice president, I’ve always made myself available and approachable. If people want to say something to me, they should feel comfortable coming to me. Listening to my peers, teachers, and the whole school community has helped me bring their feedback to our student government meetings. I relay what people are saying and what they want. I like to think of myself as a man of the people. I want to work for our school community to better ourselves and build up our school community. I like to say that I’m a man of the people. I feel like I’m a person for the people and I want to work for our school community to better ourselves.

Kelly Dang

1. Throughout high school, our school has been kind of boring, and we’ve always complained about what we can and can’t do. Everyone advocates for more, but nobody does anything about it. I used to be one of those people always complaining about school. Then, I realized it might be my time to step up and make the changes I want to see happen.

2. I think I’m very determined. When I know what I want, I go after it. I care deeply about the things that matter to me, and when I put in the effort, I give it my all and go out of my way to achieve my goals.

3. I like to journal a lot, so I often think about my actions and choices. I’m frequently reflecting on what to do and how to improve.

4. I come from an immigrant family, a first-generation family, so a lot of the things we’ve wanted, we’ve had to work for; nothing was just given to us. This plays a large role in my presidency. As I mentioned before, I’ve wanted a lot and talked about wanting a lot, but you have to take action to get to where you want to be. This background has been an obstacle, but it also motivates me and impacts how I approach my role as president.

5. I want to get feedback from everyone to hear what they like and dislike about school, and understand their problems with the school and its system. Then, I want to explore what I can do as president to address these issues. Being president isn’t just about me; it’s about giving a voice to everyone. I want to know their ideas and represent them effectively. Together, we can come up with ideas, clubs, and systems to address their concerns and improve our school community.

Tenzom Lhayang

1. I don’t know how many other candidates have younger sisters, but I do. My younger sister is a freshman in high school. I’ve always been there for her, offering a dependable shoulder to lean on. I tell her she can rely on me as a guide through high school or anything else. I want to serve that same purpose for the underclassmen. I’ve already experienced everything high school has to offer, and I don’t want them to see me as some scary figure in the role of school president. If they have any problems with our school or need advice on anything, I want them to know I’m there for them.

2. In terms of planning school events and holding leadership positions, I believe I am well-qualified. As a Wellness Ambassador, I am responsible for organizing the school’s Wellness Wednesdays, where I strive to enhance student and teacher wellness. Working with a team of other Wellness Ambassadors, we coordinate various stations, including board games, to ensure that students are enjoying themselves and relieving stress. Additionally, I am deeply committed to my clubs. I have been a member of the Red Cross for four years, where I now serve as the social media manager. I have also been involved in Hudson River Sailing for four years. Additionally, I am part of a lesser-known club, the Pen Pal Club, where we write letters to seniors. These clubs are platforms for change, and I am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. This drive for change is why I wanted to become president in the first place. Through leadership roles in the Red Cross, I raise awareness about the importance of blood donation and supporting those in need. Similarly, through the Pen Pal Club, I advocate for companionship and connection for seniors who may be lonely or in unstable situations. Overall, these experiences have shaped my belief in the power of leadership and community involvement to create positive change.

3. Outside of school, I am the Co-captain of my Tibetan dance team. We perform at various Tibetan cultural events, such as Tibetan New Year, Christmas, and other holidays, as well as for high lamas when they visit. Additionally, we perform for the Tibetan community to come together and celebrate as a whole. When we’re not performing, we advocate for Tibetan rights, as Tibet is not free. This experience correlates with my leadership skills. As the Co-captain, my team depends on me to organize events and attend practices, whether they are weekly or bi-weekly, depending on our performance schedule.

4. I know my parents support me and want the best for me, but their expectations can be challenging to meet. Balancing club commitments, maintaining high grades, and having a healthy social life is difficult when facing high parental expectations. Since I was young, they’ve always wanted me to stay out of trouble, and their leniency hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older. In fact, it has become harder, especially now that I’m preparing for college. Even if my parents don’t explicitly pressure me to get good grades, I put these expectations on myself. It feels like I carry a weight on my shoulders, and if I don’t achieve what I perceive as a good grade, I feel the need to improve. Becoming president feels like overcoming this weight and proving to myself and my parents that I can make a difference in my school and community. Additionally, I want to ensure that students in our school don’t feel the same pressure on their shoulders. I want them to understand that not everything in life has to be perfect immediately; things will work out eventually. Freshmen are just starting high school and might find it daunting, but they have their entire high school career ahead of them. Sophomores transitioning to juniors often face pressure regarding grades for college. I want to alleviate any pressure or standards they may feel from themselves, peers, or family situations. I aim to create a school environment where students feel happy, safe, and free from the self-consciousness I experienced.

5. I was thinking that at the beginning of the school year, we could send out a Google form to all classrooms or utilize posters around the school, similar to campaign posters, but instead, it would be for gathering feedback or advice for the school. We could then post this feedback on our Museum School Instagram because I know almost everyone in our school has Instagram. Advocating through Google forms allows for anonymity, as some people may want to speak up but may not feel comfortable if their name is attached to their feedback. I propose doing this each semester so that teachers, administration, and the student government as a whole can understand what students need and what changes we can make to address those needs.

Lily Kalb

1. I think one of my biggest reasons why and one of the biggest points I emphasize when running for student body president is that there’s a serious lack of organization when it comes to students and teachers figuring things out. So, this year especially there’s been a real lack of scheduling, assignments, just like an organization with those things and so I feel like we needed to enhance that. I think that was honestly the biggest thing that encouraged me to run and then also, obviously the more fun things. We do have tournaments, volleyball tournaments, and basketball tournaments, but I wish that we did more as a community, especially with other grades.

2. For one, I’m very motivated and I’m very vocal about a lot of things. I wouldn’t also allow myself to fall to the bottom or have my voice be lost if I am elected for this position. I’m honest, I’m a team player, I’m also very empathetic towards people’s needs and feel as though that would be because I am good at listening and good at problem solving. Those would help me with being the best candidate.

3. I’ve always been an activist for women’s rights since I was eight years old, my mom and I would go to the women’s marches in New York City. That shows that I have a very vocal approach to things. I’ve always fought for women’s rights, especially in my community. I just landed a position to be a social media manager for the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and it was very important to the head of the historical society and to myself that she had women in the leadership role. That was what made me go for that position which I luckily landed after demonstrating hard work. For the past two years, we’ve had male leadership, for vice president and president and I think it’s very important that we have women in leadership in student government roles. 

4. Last year I went through some real things. I don’t want to say stupid, but honestly just not helpful.. I went through a situation that was very unnecessary and that resulted in me kinda needing to find a new group of support and people. With that came self-confidence and understanding of honesty, and real realness. Honesty and understanding that there’s room to grow for everyone and that you can find support in the most unexpected places. Also, I found that I don’t belong to just one group of people, which is something that even last year had me learn, and I’ve been able to branch out to a lot of other groups and become friends with a lot of other people. I overcame it by doing a lot of self-identifying, I guess the word is, a lot of reflections about myself and the people that I surround myself with. By overcoming that situation I’ve opened myself up to a lot of different groups which I used to be kinda of a little bit more closed off for no particular reason, I think that if I were to become president being able to acknowledge every group of people, every identity, every whatever social aspect and including that in the school and I think just acknowledging is a really big thing that a lot of people don’t do. So, my being president wouldn’t just be for my group, it wouldn’t just be for people who are in my social understanding, people who dress like me, people who do the same things as me, it would honestly be for everyone, and taking everyone’s considerations into mind. 

5. I am very vocal and very action based so I think my biggest thing would be to hear everyone, cause we haven’t been a ninth grader in two years so a lot has changed I’m sure. because when we were here it was screening, and it was covid, and there was honestly no community activities. So a lot has changed for them and I would want to listen to them. Maybe that would require sending out a Google form or having meetings with a select few or whatever would get me to hear their points and their concerns. Same thing with tenth graders and maybe even eleventh graders, these eleventh graders are coming in next year, taking in everyone’s considerations and I will admit good things take time. That being said, not too much time, but it would require meetings with administration so that could be planned out and thoroughly conveyed. When I listen to people I do listen and really try to understand their perspective. And because I was a ninth grader, a tenth grader, and I’m an eleventh grader now, I understand what it was like to be in their position of being in a new school, readjusting to new friend groups, readjusting to the environment of high school, coming out of middle school and I would take all of that into consideration. 


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Julia Hendler
Julia Hendler, Editor in Chief
I am thrilled to be back for my third and final year at The Gallery—this time as co-Editor in Chief! I spent the last two years working on the News section, first as a writer and then as the section’s co-editor, and I’ve truly grown to love the paper and journalism as a practice. I think, and I hope that others do too, that The Gallery holds such an important role in our school community. It serves as a platform to share the latest from the student perspective and an open forum for discussion. To you all, the readers, thank you for your support!

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