An inside look into HM Lead

Samuel Singer, Staff Writer

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This year’s Middle Division (MD) student government program, HM Lead, seeks to build confident and efficient student leaders by encouraging the success of new initiatives under the leadership of new faculty members, MD history teacher and Student Activities Coordinator Catilin Hickerson said.

“The mission of HM Lead is to provide students in the Middle Division the opportunity to play a leadership role in their community,” Hickerson said. “They work collaboratively on various projects throughout the year that will serve the interests of their peers and create opportunities for the Middle Division to work together,” Hickerson said.

The program is divided into four committees: Student Representation, Social and Events, Service Learning, and Horace Mann Broadcasting. Student Representation addresses students’ concerns, while the Social Committee deals with organizing events, and the Service Learning committee aims to provide meaningful service to others.

HM Broadcasting broadcasts and shares the current events of the MD, Hickerson said. It was founded by Avi Kumar (8) as an idea for broadcasting the happenings of the division, and is shown to the MD at grade-wide atrium meetings, Ross Petras (8) said.

Hickerson has already crafted detailed plans for HM Lead for the 2018-19 school year. She has decided to hold a fall movie night on October 29, host Unity Week workshops, respond to student concerns, organize other social events, and represent HM Lead successfully at the MD Clubs Fair for the seventh and eighth grades in October, she said.

Hickerson recruited new faculty advisors to the program: Spanish teacher Arni Alvarez, Spanish teacher Gabriela Espinosa, and Special Assistant to the Middle Division Class Deans Norma Rodriguez. “I’m both nervous and excited to see what my time on HM Lead will bring,” Rodriguez said.

Nate Stephenson (7) has served on the Social and Events Committee and has organized events such as movie nights, Unity Week activities, and holiday festivities. He looks forward to once again serving on the committee to “make the MD a less stressful and happier place,” he said.

“Although the students had little to no autonomy in choosing what was to be implemented, the process of their implementation was intensive and a valuable lesson to me moving forward,” Chair of the Community Council Jeren Wei (12) said of his time on the now defunct Diversity Committee.

“None of the students [on the Diversity Committee]” went on to participate in its initiatives, and the committee was thus disestablished, Hickerson said.

The advisors “provide a template of successful leadership and event planning so that by the end of the year the students have the skills to execute their ideas and the opportunity to decide what the committees will be, based on the needs of the community,” Hickerson said.

However, Petras did not feel as though the advisors were that helpful, he said. “I don’t really know what we’ll do this year,” Petras said. “Teachers have all of the power over what we do, and I think it hurts how much we get done,” he said.

Petras thought many other students agreed with his viewpoint, he said.

Wei also shared criticism of HM Lead, namely that it was “mostly discussion oriented, teacher driven, and created limited power to change the realities that existed,” he said. In comparing his time on the Community Council to his time on HM Lead, he said that “very little influence could be created in HM Lead, while all of the initiatives in the Community Council are student driven.”

“All of what we accomplished in a whole year was to start a conversation; we didn’t actually get anything done,” he said.

“The same topics were discussed in committee every year created exclusively by the faculty advisors,” William Golub (12) said.

“Advisors take their role seriously – they advise students with regard to what, in their experience, will work and what may not,” Hickerson said. “The school and the administration always has a role to play in decisions about events that take place on campus,” she said.

“I look forward to seeing how HM Lead will move forward into new initiatives in the future,” Petras said with respect to its agenda for this year.

During his time on HM Lead’s Peer Mentoring Committee, Golub created a series of iPad help videos and technology office hours, unofficially known as the “Geek Squad.” He further “worked on a Middle Division survival guide given out at Middle Division orientations to this day,” he said. Golub enjoyed the process of HM Lead and found it helpful in achieving his leadership goals, he said.

“Being on HM Lead taught me how to properly execute initiatives, which has been helpful in my high school career and time on the Community Council,” Golub said.

“The opening of conversations and sparking of discourse in HM Lead provided more unity within the school’s communities,” Wei said.