2021-2022 Student Body Co-President Candidates First Look: Dario Petrillo and Alex Theriault

To kick off this year’s campaign week, we sat down with each of the four pairs of candidates to talk to them about their platforms, backgrounds, and ideas.

Why did you two decide to run?

Dario: Since I came to Pingree, I’ve been pretty involved in the community, trying to do every single thing that I can: clubs, committees, teams, I’ve tried different sports, and been really involved in academics as well. I came in, just saw the people who were presidents, and I said, “I want to do that someday.” I liked how they were involved and how they showed that they cared for everyone else. I’ve grown so much throughout my years here; I knew that I just wanted to give back in some way. I consider my experience to be the quintessential Pingree experience, and I want to foster that for other people as well, especially considering how much we’ve learned over this past year, and how a lot of people feel like they haven’t had the same experience. 

Alex: I think that I’m almost the opposite of that, because I’ve been here one year. I’ve heard a lot about how amazing Pingree is, minus what’s happened this past year, and I want to help bring it back to that for my last year. I want everyone to experience that in a way that I wasn’t able to, but hopefully I will be able to. 

Dario: I think [Alex] just has that unique experience of being new, as well. The fact that [Alex] knows how people who were new this year feel, to have that disconnect.

Why do you think that you should win this election?

Dario: I think Alex and I are just a really good team. We push each other in everything that we do as friends and as classmates. We both really enjoy high-achievement, and we try to do the best we can in everything that we do. I think we’re going to push each other to be our best. We’re going to try to get really involved and try to give back as much as possible. We’re really open to new things, as well, so we want to make it as much about the people as possible. 

Hopefully, next year will finally be a normal school year. Are you planning any events or initiatives to bring us all together again as part of your campaign?

Alex: Absolutely. We were thinking of taking days like Abbey Day, Wheeler Day, Concord, and expanding it to make it for everyone instead of just the sports teams. We would have a big – almost like Springfest– day in the fall, where we have all the sports teams playing games. We would have art exhibits, maybe a theater production. We would try to take feedback from all different clubs to make sure everyone’s involved, and we would have one day so everyone has a chance to show what they’ve been doing, and how they have been impacting the community. 

Dario: One of the things that I was most surprised to hear when I came in as a freshman was that Pingree doesn’t have a homecoming. We could cap the day off with a big football game under the lights, a dance after. Not even formal, just to get the community together, have alumni back on campus, food trucks. I feel like a lot of times, whether you’re an athlete, whether you’re into the arts, these are the things that we all put a lot of effort into, and we love demonstrating that as much as possible. I feel like we could draw more of a crowd, more of a market for that.

The example set by your leadership, if elected, is crucial to school culture. Do you have any specific proposals or ideas for improving inclusivity across all areas?

Dario: One of the most important things that we talked about going into this was that we don’t like the differentiation that a lot of people make where you have to be an artist or you have to be an athlete. I feel like we could do a really good job of combining that and demonstrating everyone’s unique talents. One of the ideas we had was to create a kind of team-buddy system, where, for example, the football team could work in the fall on advertising and letting the rest of the student body know about the theater production or the haunted house. The volleyball team could be paired up with the cross country team. Each team could help another team help get people out to their games and help support them. It makes other people want to come if they know that their friends will be there. That way, it lets the teams get more involved with each other and lets people across different cliques bond. 

Alex: We would do our best to pair things that wouldn’t normally get paired, like football and theater. We would do an art and a sport or take input from student leaders that wanted to be a part of that, and we would pair people that wouldn’t normally be in the same circles, integrating the community and providing opportunities for people to make friends with people that they wouldn’t normally have. 

Dario: [Alex] hasn’t gotten to see this much, but when we do have a lot of highlighted events, we do pair them up to have multiple things in one night. That’s part of working to get even more people to come. If we have just one highlighted game, some people might not come. If we have a game and a dance, or the haunted house and a dance, or the dance concert and the junior varsity seniors football game, a lot more people are going to come that way. If we can bridge the gap, pairing the arts and the athletics together, getting people from those different worlds to support each other, that’s crucial to us. 

What do you think makes you different from the other candidates?

Alex: I think we’re both really high-achievers, and we both hold each other to a standard that not many people do. We both are willing to put in as much work as is necessary to get the job done, and beyond that, get it done really well. If one of us takes a step back, the other will be right behind him, pushing him forward, making sure that we continue through the last day of school and even beyond, to represent Pingree well, and to not stop going as far as we can. 

Dario: I think we bring so many different interests and experiences to the table that combine. I’m more into photography, Alex is more into music production. He plays football, I play soccer. He plays basketball and lacrosse; I focus more on representing other teams. Academically, we’re so high-achieving, as well. We also have that contrasting experience, where I’ve been here since my freshman year, while he transferred as a junior. I think that helped him to prevent getting used to certain trends. I’ll say “this thing was really good in the past,” but Alex actually noticed something that he really liked this year instead. We can work to balance each other out like that, and not let it just be the same viewpoint. 

What is the biggest issue that you think Pingree is currently facing, and what solution or plan do you have for it?

Alex: I think the biggest problem Pingree’s facing right now is getting back to the way it was, and having a smooth transition into normal school. The whole idea of a “homecoming” day would really help get everyone back together again after a summer, after a whole year of masks and cohorts. The whole day, kind of like Springfest, but even bigger and better. We could do multiple, depending on how successful they are. A whole day just for the community to come together again would really help ease that transition. 

Dario: I think for me, one of the things I saw so much this summer was the realization that not everyone has this perfect, ideal Pingree journey that I feel like I’ve had. A lot of people, through the use of social media accounts that were created last summer, have shown that the experience hasn’t been the same for everyone. Alex and I have started to brainstorm ways to make people who felt like their voices weren’t heard as much, or their backgrounds haven’t been as noticed, to make those people feel like their experiences are validated, celebrating our differences. One of the examples we had was if we could have people from unique cultures bring in a recipe, we could have an entire lunch day put on by the kitchen staff where they make a lunch from a certain culture. That’s just the surface, but we want to find ways to have people with differences feel more seen and more heard, so they’re not glossed over, but actually celebrated for their diversity. 

Is there anything you would like to say to the community that you don’t think will be mentioned in the rest of the campaign?

Alex: We’re just a good pair. I think that we work really well together to cover areas that the other person may be lacking in. We’re a whole, complete unit, and I don’t know if many other people have the same kind of chemistry. 

Dario: For me, the most important thing is we also know that we don’t have all the answers right now. Considering the fact that we’re supposed to be a bridge between the students and the faculty and the administration, hearing other people’s ideas is really important to us. Alex and I are pretty approachable people. He likes to joke that I’m the “mayor” of Pingree, because I always walk around and say hi to people, wave. I really like being involved in the community, and Alex, although it’s been hard with COVID and not being able to see that many people, has gotten to know more people as he’s been here. We might be big athletes, but you can come talk to us about anything you want. If you have any suggestions that you want us to bring up at any point, we’d be more than happy to explore them or see if there’s any way we can implement them. High school is not just about us, it’s not just about us doing our job, it’s about everyone, it’s about having a good time and doing well along the way.