This article is not meant to favor any candidates. The interviews included in this article are from candidates that responded. Not all campaign posters are featured. All candidates were contacted, except Blue and Gold members.
Even though Michael Lightbody stepped up to be the advisor for the Class of 2023 this February, the pandemic and transition into remote learning prevented him from starting the election process earlier. He expressed that there is a lot of catching up to do this year, because he was hesitant to hold elections in the spring, not knowing if students would be returning in-person.
The sophomore class elections this year are scheduled to be on the same day as the junior class elections, December 21st. Advisor to the Class of 2022, Daniel Jurkowski, and Rebecca Corcoran have been assisting Lightbody with hosting the election online through a website called ElectionRunner.
Lightbody commented that there had been “a lot of interest [from] students” to run for a position and they have been in contact with him to distribute and share their campaign posters with the class. This year the positions students are running for are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Historian and two Social Media Coordinators.
There are four candidates for sophomore Class President: Nour Belkessa, Kyle Lee, Saura Rathore and Christina Trinh.
The candidates for Vice President are Kiley Fray, Kelly Le, Rachel Lin, Daniella Campbell, and Blue and Gold lead reporters, Chaimaa Assli and Kaoutar Wakaf.
After reading Lightbody’s email to the class informing them about the positions, Belkessa immediately knew that she wanted to run for President because she really wants to “make a difference” in her class. She thinks it is important for people to know that she is not running “just for the fun of it,” she wants to “do the best that [she] can, so that everyone can be satisfied.”
Although Rathore is a little nervous about the upcoming election, she feels as though “[her] agenda is good enough for [their] class.” She decided to run for President because helping the class is something that she is really passionate about, and she believes that her class “deserves to have a good high school experience.”
Initially, Fray was considering running for the role of President, but ended up going for Vice President because she felt like “[she] could be a better support system” for the presidential candidates by providing ideas and guidance. She is excited for the elections, expressing that “even if [she] doesn’t get the role, [she] has full trust in the other candidates.”
The five candidates for Secretary are Jianna Downey, Isabella Ivy, Yuki Yang, Tiffany Chau, and Ann Marie Nguyen. The students running for Treasurer are Meryem Hakkaoui, Palgon Tsering, Priscilla Wong, Barbara Zaldana and Allison Yu.
Downey’s decision to run for Secretary was based on the fact that she wanted to be involved with the student council somehow, but not necessarily in a role such as President or Vice President that arguably carries more responsibility.
For the role of Historian, sophomores Devina Wembi, Siena Lee, Ryan Li and Valency Morantus are all in the running.
Lee explained that she chose to run for this position in particular because she “loves photography and has been doing it ever since [she] was a kid,” adding that her passion lies in “putting meaning into photos.”
In contrast to previous years, there will be two Social Media Coordinators elected for the position, in order to adjust to the current remote learning environment. Sophomores Brenda De La Cruz, Maria Ganoza, Noelle Hayes, Peyton Lightbody, Mindy Nguyen and Tia Slijuka are all running for this position.
Ganoza recognizes the importance of using social media during these times and feels that it should be used to inform students of more than just school-related news, “because there is so much more that [can be] learned” about what is happening in the world. Her goal is to engage with her peers and let them know that their voices will be heard.
Hayes chose to run for Social Media Coordinator because “anyone who follows [her]... can agree that [she uses her] accounts to promote mental health, current issues, [and] racial justice,” among other topics. She has always been interested in social media, and sees this as a perfect opportunity for her to use the platform in a positive way.
There are more people running than Hayes expected, but she is “confident in all of the people running,” and knows that even if she does not get elected, the class will be “in good hands.”
As far as campaigning goes, each of the candidates have their own opinions about doing it virtually. Rathore thinks that it “is not entirely fair” because everyone has a varying amount of friends or followers on social media, so “even if you try your best… there are going to be differences in how many people are going to see [your] poster.”
For Lee, campaigning has been great so far. She finds it nice to talk to other people and see who they are going to vote for, especially because she can use it to “understand where [she] needs to improve.” That being said, she acknowledged that people can be different on social media, and interactions between candidates and class members might be more genuine if in-person. Fray also brought up the fact that “all [they] have is [their] word” when it comes to campaigning online.
Ganoza, who is hoping to be one of the Social Media coordinators, pointed out that this is their class’ first year doing elections, so it is hard to tell if it would be easier or harder for them to campaign in-person. She feels a “mix of emotions,” because on one hand, social media is a great tool to share information, but on the other hand, “some people don’t really look at their emails” anymore. Tsering is anticipating the elections as well, but has also struggled with interacting with as many students in the class as possible and being able to convey his personality through a screen.
Belkessa added that it would be easier to campaign in person, because “you could put posters up,” noting that “not everyone has social media.” Being in school physically would allow her to go up to people and actually be able to talk with them. However, she also agrees with Ganoza’s point about using social media as a tool because many people are online, and it is an easy way to reach large groups of people. In addition, Downey believes that people are on their phone most of the time anyway, which has made promoting her campaign easier.
It is no doubt that class elections this year are important, especially if students are able to return to in-person learning anytime soon. Zaldana wants to make sure that the class will “have enough money for fun events and [other] educational needs” when the time comes.
Not to mention, the sophomores had their freshman year cut short, so they have not yet had the chance to form a strong sense of connection with each other yet. Fray has hopes that the student council will be able to unite the student body, making sure that no one feels left out or alone.
With this being the sophomore class’ first election, and having it take place both online and during a pandemic, Lee described it as being “nerve-wracking,” mostly because of all the uncertainties. Even with news of an approved vaccine, there is no telling when students will be back in school and how the district is going to handle reopening. Tsering agrees that it has been a tough year, and he knows that “a lot of students need reassurance and help” getting through these times.
Downey emphasized the significance of making sure that everyone at Malden High feels “safe and equal… [in terms of] their ideas being heard.” Hakkaoui shares this sentiment, saying that everyone should “utilize their voice and vote for whomever they see fit for the position[s].” Although, she is a little anxious about elections, mainly because “[she] feel[s] as though not many people know about it,” adding that it is “harder to get the word around remotely.”
Lightbody’s goal for the year once class officers are elected is to start fundraising as soon as possible and “establish[ing] a foundation for the Class of 2023.” One of the ideas he has in mind is to host a t-shirt design contest so he can get to know the class better and give them a chance to contribute their ideas.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Wakaf's last name.