The Newspaper of Irvington High School

Candidate Michelle Nguyen

“One of my main goals as a class officer is to have the happiest class, and the happiest classes have been the most unified class. Something that brings everyone together is something that I think is so beautiful, in a high school sense.”

For those in a hurry:

  • Michelle Nguyen is a candidate running for Sophomore Class Council on the platform of TRANSFORMATION. Since the class of 2024’s freshman year was virtual, Nguyen wants to take advantage of possible reopening next year to give her class “a great awakening”.
  • Nguyen is one of the current Freshman Class Officers and has a history of leadership: Horner ASB, sixth grade president, fifth grade class representative, and 4-5 years of girl scouting. 
  • Nguyen wants to continue her current goal of recruiting diverse members, relying on her knowledge of all the different social groups in her class and being mindful of who is able to juggle the responsibilities associated with class council.
  • Despite being more lenient this year in terms of tracking each class council member’s responsibilities, Nguyen intends to be stricter next year to keep accountability.
  • To increase spirit, Nguyen wants to contact teachers and staff to spread the word about events like Winter Week and reach students outside the scope of social media.

Felicia: What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Michelle: I’ve always been interested in that leadership role. I’ve always taken charge without knowing it, like subconsciously. I’ve always been the first to speak up. And that led me to run for fifth grade class representative, sixth grade president, and so on, and so forth. I’ve always been natural with leadership. Not a natural-born leader, but I’ve always grown into leadership very naturally and very subtly. I’ve also been a girl scout for about four or five years now. A lot of people don’t know it, but girl scouting is also a lot about leadership. You don’t get the same experience from girl scouting than from school leadership; it’s very different. So I’m glad to say that I have a lot of experience with both. I can combine both together to get a newer outcome than most people have already seen.

F: What do you hope to get done next year based on what you’ve seen this year. Because this year is your first year as an officer in high school. And next year, if you were to become a sophomore class council officer, what have you learned from this year that you want to implement next year? 

M: That’s really hard to answer because a lot of those follow along with the physical aspect of the environment at school. I’d pretty much say getting people to participate outside of class council, outside of ASG, that’s basically all I can say now. To my surprise, admittingly, my co-class officer and I were able to gather a lot of people for bench this year, even though the idea of bench is pretty much crumbling for class of ‘24. We can’t do anything and we’ve never even experienced it. But I can still say we’ve gathered a lot of people. I was also able to get a lot of people to come to our fundraiser. 

F: I’m glad you recognize the idea that next year, it really depends on whether or not we’re distance learning or in-person learning. Which brings me to the next question: if we were to be in-person learning, how would you foster that unity that you’re talking about considering everybody’s disconnected now? 

M: From my perspective, this whole thing is kind of like a domino effect, a bandwagon type of thing. Once one person that everybody knows does something, most likely everybody else will follow along. Last year, when releasing freshmen class council applications, one of my goals was to get a really diverse team, to grab kids from all cliques, from all social groups, because that’s one tactic of bringing everyone together. I want to break down all those barriers and introduce people to something new, because at this point it’s hard to try something new online. But when I get the chance, I want people to realize that it’s okay to take somewhat of a risk, but they won’t want to do it if they’re doing it alone. So that’s why I’m saying getting others to participate will get more people to participate. 

F: I know one way to do that would also be getting input from your class. How would you get input from your class, in terms of feedback, in terms of what they want to do? 

M: My class council right now is really diverse. Whenever I need any feedback, I’ll just ask them and right there is already a variety of responses. If I’m not satisfied, then I just released a Google Form that I’d have everyone share with everyone, on my class page for Facebook, Instagram, etc. 

F: Considering you already had those processes down, is there anything that you would do differently? 

M: Yes, there is. Not a lot of people know this, and it’s really sad that not a lot of people know this, but being a leader for any type of leadership group is very straining. There’s a lot of different characters that you work with, and whether or not you want to admit it, a lot of them can be very inconsiderate, rude sometimes, and they won’t even mind it until you bring it up. I’d be a lot more strict, because if you ask anyone from the freshman class council this year, I’ve let a lot of things slide and a lot of things go. And the reason I did that was because I did not want to come off as too strict, too mean, or anything like that. I want to encourage people to apply next year, whether or not I’m still a class officer, because I think having a class council is the heart of the class 

F: So you said that this year, you let some stuff go. What exactly are those things that you let go this year that you would probably be more strict to next year? Like some specific examples? 

M: I’m very considerate of everyone’s circumstances. For example, let’s say I plan a meeting with a certain committee that needs to be handled right away, and I’m like, “Okay, guys, meeting on Wednesday at three o’clock.” I let everyone know if you can’t come, let me know. And then no one lets me know. Then we arrive at the meeting and all of a sudden three people are missing. So I ask everyone to message this person, call them, and later on, they text me. They say, “Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry, that completely slipped my mind.” And I’m like, “It’s okay. I understand. There’s a lot of things going on right now.” Let’s say happens a second time, they say the same thing. I don’t really know what to say, because I’ve never dealt with that. This is something outside of school. ASB in eighth grade, we had a teacher that would handle this discipline. But in this case, I have to handle it now. It’s really difficult for me to be in this perspective, because I’m friends with a lot of them, like I’ve been friends with them for a year. I can’t really say, “Okay, you get a strike. Okay, you’re getting kicked out because you did this.” It’s super hard for me. 

F: So then this year, what is your system that you’re thinking of implementing? 

M: We have a point system, and we have a strike system. We also have a productivity system which I implemented halfway through second semester. I actually got inspiration from the sophomore class officers this year, which is Emily and Rohan, I give credit to them. It’s basically a rating from one to 10, of how you’ve been doing this whole month. To be honest, each committee has unequal amounts of work. Let’s say publicity, all they’ve been doing this month is counting points. That’s not much work compared to fundraising who hosted a whole fundraiser this month, right? But everyone is understanding of what rating I give them because I’m observant of everything they do. I’m in every single group chat. I attend every single meeting I can. So I’m aware of people who participate, people who are on top of things. If they disagree with their score, they’ll come to me and then we’ll negotiate it. Everyone has a say. There’s not really a consequence for a bad score, but it’s a consequence for if they really care, if you know what I mean. They’ll be like, “I’ve been working hard, but how come I got a seven?” But yeah, there’s no consequence. Plus, their score is displayed, so peer pressure.

F: I’m going back backtracking a little bit to when you mentioned bench building. How will you organize bench building?

M: I’m just gonna start with the virtual version because that’s the only one I’ve done so far. We started bench planning in the summer of 2020, when we finally released list of people who are in class council. We started with slideshow plans, everything was laid out in a slideshow and we advertised it a lot. And right next the link would be a Google Form for what project you would want to do. Once they were committed, I need their name and everything to put them all in a group chat and assign them their projects. We’d give them a month or two to finish them. They’re not difficult at all. It depends on what they pick and how they want to do it, but it’s all personalized to their artistic sensory abilities. If we were to have a chance to at least hybrid or go back into school, I’d have them all drop off their things at the school where we would set it up ourselves. It wouldn’t be all at once, I’d obviously lay it out so there would be no clashing or like crowds to be safe.

F: You’ve got a year of online learning and a lot online bench building experience. What improvements would you make? 

M: There’s not much but because a lot of the plans that we had were scratched. And then the class officers just came up with a concrete plan what we’re going to do for HOCO this year, so it all changed. But any improvements, I’d say getting people more engaged, because a lot of times our bench chat is really dry, and there’s no one talking in it. I’d say being more engaging or hyping it up more. We also did a few bondings for bench where people could come watch a movie while working on their bench thing. And people actually did finish that thing and a good amount of people came. 

F: You mentioned homecoming, which is something that I also want to transition to next. As a class officer, you plan to HOCO for your class. What ideas do you have for your homecoming?

M: If we were in person, in the beginning of the year, we’d be finished with bench already. All the classes would at least be like 70-80% done with their bench, and they’d be planning for their class sleep over, which is super fun. I’ve never done it before, but I can just tell it’s one of the best parts of homecoming. 

F: What about class dances? 

M: Nosheen is the VP this year, and she basically guides us with this process. She gave us a due date for class mixes and class dancers, which is actually Wednesday. So we have ours, basically done. Every class officer finds a class choreographer, two-three people, and then a person who does a class mix, which is a compilation of songs. I’m happy with everything, whether it be choreography or like transitions. It’s pretty satisfying to see it all work. 

F: Going back to applying for class counciland that entire process, you mentioned that you want to recruit a diverse set of students. What exactly is your process of recruiting those diverse students into class council?

M: I don’t even recruit them, they just come. It’s just a matter of me accepting the diverse group. I don’t want too much of one group versus another. So I don’t have too much trouble with people applying, unless there is someone who I’d want. So I personally reach out to them; if they don’t want to, that’s completely fine. But I don’t have to do much recruiting. It’s just the selection. 

F: But then I wonder, how do you know what group they belong into enough to say that you want to reject somebody because you have too much of them? 

M: I wouldn’t reject somebody because we have too many in one social group. I only cut people if I know that they won’t be able to fulfill the expectations of being in class council,  or they have something else going on that I think would distract them or if this would distract them from something else more important. I am a very outgoing person, I hang out with multiple groups of people. I know almost everyone in our grade just because of different connections. And I know that may be hard to believe, but I know different people do different things. It just comes to mind, like, “This person, they play basketball with these people. And they hang out all the time. This person, they’re in band, and they hang out here all the time.” It’s those subconscious things that you don’t really realize until you need them in the moment. It’s the same thing with applying for class counsel, like “How do they behave? How do they handle things?” It’s just those minor things that I always take into consideration.

F: So how do you get to the people who you don’t probably know. Even with an extensive amount of knowledge of students around you, you probably don’t know every single person. 

M: For the people that I don’t know, I guess I can’t do much. I can’t deny them for not knowing them enough. And I can’t accept them for nothing. I just try my best to get to know them more and put more effort into seeing who they are as a person. Most likely they are friends with somebody that I’m friends with. So I find out one way or another who they hang out with, what kind of crowd they are.

F: Assuming that next year, we go back to in-person, this will be your first time on Irvington campus, so sophomores will be exploring the campus along with freshmen for the very first time. What would you do differently from your virtual experience now to your in-person experience?

M; Evening out work distribution so it’s not all on me. It’s been very stressful this year because I’ve been doing a lot of work, as opposed to other people. I’m just hesitant to ask them to do more work than they want to. I’m taking everything into consideration because I especially do not want to be annoying during a pandemic. Speaking from a person who wouldn’t be in leadership, I would stop under estimating how much work we have. Freshman year is a breeze most of the time, there’s less work, there’s no APS. I need to prepare myself more for sophomore year because I know it’s going to be harder. This year, honestly, there’s not a lot of planning I need to do. I just need to be more responsible and prepared for my schoolwork. 

F: As a leader, though, if you were to be a class council officer next year in an in-person environment, is there any process that you would change? Even the idea of getting spirit, right?

M: I noticed that other schools reached out to their faculty about Winter Week, and they had their faculty explain Winter Week and address it to other students who are not active on social media, which I think is what we lacked. ASG actually asked a lot of leadership students to reach out to teachers to participate in spirit weeks. When they said that to us, I was like, in my head, “Oh, they probably already know about it. Because once a week happens every year for Irvington, right.” But I brought up to the teachers and they’re like, “Oh, it’s this week, how many schools are participating?” And I was like, “Huh, so you guys don’t know about this.” I definitely say engaging everyone, the whole school, instead of just Instagram and Facebook. Any other process I would change? We seriously thought we could make all our props with cardboard but now we know that we actually need more stuff. I’d change that process. 

F: Is there anything we didn’t talk about in the interview that you want the student body to know about you? 

M: I just want peopleto know that I have everyone’s best interest, including Irvington itself. My dedication to making this school a brighter and prouder place goes beyond college apps or credit.

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