The Newspaper of Irvington High School

Candidate Tejal Shah

“The main goal as a class officer is to be able to communicate to more people because they’re the face of the whole class. As a class officer, I should be able to speak for the rest of my class and have their opinions, and that can only be obtained through outreach.”

For those in a hurry:

  • Tejal Shah is a candidate running for Sophomore Class Officer on the platform of OUTREACH. She wants to encourage students to join Class Council so there can be a wider range of opinions.
  • Through being a Freshman Class Officer, she’s familiar with more of the processes of how things are run.
  • She wants to gain participation for events like Homecoming and Spirit Weeks through portraying them as fun and important.
  • She also wants to reach out to Irvington-owned businesses to lend a hand during the pandemic. 

Aditya: If you could summarize your campaign in one word, how would you describe it? Why?

Tejal: You’ll see in my speech, but I talked about outreach a lot, because in times of COVID, just making new bonds, and getting to interact with people is something a lot of people missed out this year. And I feel like that’s something that’s gonna be really important next year  if we want to have a good experience for sophomores. If you look at the overall themes, like most of the things I said, I  want to reach out to Irvington owned businesses. I would consider that as outreach. Getting to work and give to charities and shelters, that I also consider outreach. Getting more participation, I consider that outreach. The main goal as a class officer is to be able to communicate to more people because they’re the face of the whole class. As a class officer, I should be able to speak for the rest of my class and have their opinions, and that can only be obtained through outreach.

A: Why are you the best candidate for class officer?

T: Once we go back to school, we will be sophomores. We will have a lot of changes. And I’m already familiar with many of the processes and how things work. I also have a few ideas that I want to implement next year, so I feel that I would be able to do a good job. 

A: What is one way you would gain input from your class? 

T: Many people have a different definition to who is popular. Usually people would associate popular with the people who play sports, because they are the most recognized. That’s my personal opinion as to how I see it. People on the basketball team are the people that mostly a lot of people know. Those aren’t good people to reach out to. But this year, specifically, we realized that there were a really diverse bunch of people who decided to apply for class council. When picking for class council, we don’t do it based off of who has the most network, but who can also give back. I’d say reaching out to people and seeing who is social and willing to make new connections is something that we do look for when picking our class council.

A: What do you want to get done as class officer?

T: I wanted to do more outreach and especially work with SIA (Students in Action) to have a bit more outreach so that we can be giving back directly, like having class council people donating more to canned food drives or reusing materials like plastic and crochet or knit them into blankets. Also with fundraisers, due to COVID and all, I want to be able to support more Irvington-owned businesses. The only thing stopping us this year from doing that was a bit of confusion with paperwork, and also who we were going to reach out to. We didn’t have a platform where we could reach out to everyone because not everyone is on social media.

A: As an incumbent class officer, what experience have you gained? What would you want to do differently than what you’ve done this year?

T: Being a class officer is a collaboration-oriented job, because you have to work with a co-officer and the rest of ASG to plan events, like organizing fundraisers and collaborations with LINK, which hasn’t been done before. Considering that I’m a freshman, this was new to me, so next year, I’d change how we manage class council. Depending on what we have planned next year, we’re going to be more specific with our requirements for class council. 

Considering everything was online, I’m not exactly sure as to what would be different because most of the traditions have now been refined over the years to be more in favor of the people. I wouldn’t say there’s anything bad that happened this year that we don’t want to do, but maybe just implementing more ideas and having more class input.

A: What are the main problems you saw this year, especially since we’re in a COVID era? How will that transition to next year with potential distance learning or potential in-person learning?

T: I’d say mostly participation because there is a great majority that are active on social media, but there’s that group of people who aren’t as active on social media for their own reasons. We want to be able to reach more people and get more participation. Irvington is a growing community. Assuming that we are in-person by next year, the sophomores are going to be as new as the freshmen and are going to have to adjust to the new campus. I guess it will work out in everyone’s favor if we are back in-person because there’s so many people I know that are social. When you talk to someone face to face, more information is relayed. 

A: Do you believe your class has unity? If not, how would you improve it? Since your class has not gone onto Irvington’s campus at all this year, what would you do to maintain in-person unity?

T: I feel like our class is pretty close knit, considering most of us are coming from Horner. I came from a private school myself, but it’s easy to find people who you easily click with and no one has a negative mindset. There aren’t that many students who don’t already know people in Irvington because either you know them through sports, through family, or something. And even if there are new students, as ASG members, it’s also our job to make sure that they are accounted for and they know how the Irvington community works. Just make a good impression and make sure that you are always nice.

A: As Class Officer, you will be planning homecoming events for your class. What ideas do you have for homecoming(if we are in person?)

T: There are a few aspects from this year that we weren’t able to do in person, and we have learned from our mistakes with bench. One thing for bench is that we would want to get more participation. But in terms of ideas, I feel like this year is pretty good. We should just be open to ideas, because it really depends on our theme. From hearing other people’s opinions and thoughts on it, that’s how we refine our final image and vision that we have.

A: Assuming that we remain in distance learning next year, what are some things that you’ve learned this year that will help you improve your HOCO process next year?

T: Even this year, we are still having homecoming, so look out for that. I guess we’ll just have to wait on that. But even if we do have it next year, we’ll learn from this year once we do conduct homecoming and we’ll learn from our mistakes in that perspective. But as of right now, looking at what we have, I think it’s a really neat and unique idea. 

A: How will you organize class dances? How will you get your class to participate in them?

T: We just finished our mix and are working on the class dance. Right now, the COs have decided to have people record it and then it’ll be put into a collage, and then that will be streamed. If we’re in-person, we’ll go back to learning the dance with friends in the gym. If we stay with distance learning, we will incorporate more people now that we have an idea of how much time they need. We asked people who would be open to doing it because sometimes when some people do it, then others will follow an example or will ask their friends to join as well. We would like to extend outreach next year by trying to get more people involved and hyped up. 

A: How will you push to increase school spirit in your class?

T: Building up hype early on. It gets everyone’s mindset that this is going to be a really cool event, and you should participate. HOCO is one of the main events that start off the year. Even though we’re doing it more towards the end, it’s still something that ties the whole high school experience together. This year, too, I believe that we’ve had really good participation because most of the people that I know came from Horner. I’m not too familiar with the newer students because I haven’t crossed paths with them considering school being online, but I have tried my best to reach out to newer people. We’re gonna set the example and hopefully people can follow.

A: A major keystone of homecoming week is benchbuilding, which is done through each class’s class council. How will you recruit students for class council?

T: Class council does ask a lot of you because it is the main leadership-based thing in direct correlation to the events that occur in Irvington. People who apply usually are the ones to have a really strong will. But then there are those select few that a bunch of us know, and we have reached out to them. Personally, this year, I reached out to a few people asking them if they want to apply. Even if they don’t have the time to apply and they decide to not be on class council, in the future, we might ask them for their input or what they think we can do differently. 

A: How are you going to organize and manage this large group of students in your class council? How will you delegate tasks?

T: This year, all the classes do most of their work distribution through Facebook. We have different committees, and you can apply to be in a specific committee and tell us what your preferences are. If we think that you might be more efficient, or perform better in a different committee, we will ask you if you’re willing to take this position or not. But in terms of delegating work, we’ve tried to have a pretty strong timeline. If we wanted to plan an event, we would make sure that the flyers and planning is done a week or two prior, so we have enough time to publicize it.

A: How will you push to increase school spirit with class council?

T: One thing that we did this year to get to know people and make those strong connections is an online escape room, which was really enjoyable for people. Whenever we do things like this, we try to put people who aren’t as familiar with each other together, so that there’s different committee bondings. We’re also planning an event with the different high schools’ Class of 2024. We’re not just unifying our class of 2024, but also the other schools.

A: How will you improve benchbuilding? Are there any improvements to benchbuilding that you seek to implement?

T: We have altered the bench. Just recently we have decided to have a new vision in mind, but I can’t say much on that. For next year, assuming we are in-person, we will be taking a lot of advice from the upperclassmen to see how they did it. And being sure to follow strict timelines. If we were to be online, we would do what we did this year. And that was sending out what we did for our publicity scheme when we had multiple Tik Toks. We plug those so we could get people to engage with the videos and then see if they wanted to participate. And I’d say this year, we got a really good number of people outside of class council to help. In general, bench building mainly is about unity. If you look at the Triple Crown: bench, costumes, and spirit or unity, I’d say it doesn’t matter much. The final end product does matter. This year, our bench committee worked really hard on planning what we were going to do, and we’re going to stick to the same timeline that we had this year and implement it next year. It’s not too much about winning completely because the other classes do have a lot more experience. Even though we might think that we’re really good, chances of winning as the newbies aren’t as high. But we still have hope. It’s based on the fact that we were able to work together and incorporate more people with Irvington being an arts magnet, we will have a much wider range of people we can reach out to just for bench itself.

A: Do you have plans to have events for your class throughout the year?

T: During spirit weeks, we had a bunch of activities. And I know that there were a few movie nights and service events that SIA had. I’d continue things like that. And also bondings once again, and activities for people to participate in. I believe now that we’re sophomores, we can help with LINK.

A:What ideas do you have for class bonding events?

T: Since we were going to be in-person, two ideas that we did discuss, but were never fully planned out due to COVID, was having a mini-Olympics and a field day. When we were in elementary as the last day of school, you’d have a field day. We might try to implement that in the beginning of the year, or the end of first semester, so that people have something to look forward to. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lot more, but it’s just a matter of working out the logistics.

A: What are some ideas you have for spirit week?

T: This year, we were pretty restricted in terms of what we could do. The spirit weeks itself isn’t usually in the hands of the class officer, so we don’t get to choose. The only thing we do is HOCO, and spirit week for that. Looking back at what ASG has done with Winter Week, I feel like they’ve been pretty successful. My class, the class of ‘24, were the main contributors to the hashtags. We would make groups and all of us would be spamming with our Winter Week accounts. We were able to get people outside of class council to do that with us just because so many of us were passionate about winning. You have to lead by example if you want people to follow along. You have to show that this is fun and this is something that you would want to take two minutes out of your day to help your class win.

A: Now that you’re more familiar with the high school environment, what differences do you see between ASB in junior high and ASG now?

T: I was never an ASB kid; I was a choir kid. ASB was smaller and ASG included the freshmen. For junior high, you can’t really get the sixth graders to run. ASB did a lot of the same work that class officers do, like planning out dances. If you’re coming from ASB to ASG, that would really help you in terms of learning the processes too, like fundraising. This year, we have a bunch of ASB kids in class council, and they were in our fundraising committee. I wasn’t as familiar with the exact paperwork or forms that were needed to done. With their help and my own research, I was able to find out that the website tells you the percentile you get and things like that. ASB gives you a lot of prior knowledge which you can use to implement in ASG. Another thing about class counsel is that it’s a club, it’s not a natural class. Many people are hellbent on getting their language and arts credit done. 

A: Anything else you’d like the student body to know?

T: If you want to make a difference or if you want to be a part of making next year memorable even if we are in distance learning or in person, apply for class council, because you will have much more like direct interaction and direct say in the decisions made and so if you want to change anything, or if you want to be a part of HOCO and all the other events that we have in stock, apply for Class Council.

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