2021-2022 Student Body Co-President Candidates First Look: Annabelle Delaluna-Howard and Teddy Delisio

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 decide to run, and why do you think you would make a balanced pair of co-presidents?

Annabelle: We decided to run because both of us had the same motivation of wanting to really spread positivity in this coming year. We have, as an entire community, undergone so much. With the pandemic, we’ve lost so much community experience. I think we’re both really hoping to just have good communication with everybody. One of our ideas is to have a meeting with students once a month so people can come up and make suggestions, just because we feel like there’s not a ton of communication between the actual student body and presidents. I personally have always wanted to run since freshman year, because I’ve always wanted to make a widespread, positive impact on the community. I think Teddy does too. 

Teddy: I think as a partnership, we hit a lot of demographics. Athletics, theater, lots of clubs, lots of after-school activities. I think we have a really wide and diverse reach of students. Both of us are really active members of the community and have lots of friendships with lots of people. 

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

Annabelle: I’m sure this is unanimous among all four pairs, but getting the community back to the way it was before, and then extending it, so that it’s even better, and we are more tightly together I think that’s super possible because we’re all so enthusiastic about getting back to, somewhat, a normal life. I will also add that I think Pingree definitely has a lot of challenges in inclusivity and equity, and having presidents that are hyper-aware of that and able to reach the higher levels, which can be tricky when you’re just a regular student, and will to communicate the student body’s issues with equity and inclusion, because there’s quite a few, and I think a lot of them we could very easily tackle.

Teddy: In the past year or so, with Zoom classes and everyday feeling the same, I think everyone has just felt a loss of a sense of community here at Pingree. I think a lot of people had a great time at Springfest, and I think we can start to implement a lot of on-campus community events just to get more engaged, get more people involved, specifically with the freshmen. They’ve never even gotten to experience it, and the sophomores only did for two trimesters.

You mentioned relationships with the underclassmen. It can be an issue that the presidents have trouble representing more than just their class. Do you have specific plans for reaching out to the underclassmen?

Annabelle: We definitely want to talk to the freshmen, just because I know the sophomores, [Teddy] definitely knows them because he’s on lacrosse, and also I know all the theater kids and all the tech kids and they’re fabulous. But for the freshmen we definitely want to go and talk to them and hear what’s going on, because truthfully, I have no idea. Like, “how do you guys feel about everything?” I’ve heard mixed things through the grapevine. Having real, truthful, honest conversations with them, not trying to ask them to vote for us, is super important

Teddy: Additionally, to get more engagement with the younger grades, if elected, we would have a monthly Q&A or just an open discussion that all students would be invited to if there’s anything that they would like to see happen, so that we don’t just listen to our grade or the people we see more often. 

Annabelle: Raising comfort levels is our number one goal.

What would be your immediate priority in the first trimester of the school year?

Teddy: I think everyone would like to get more engagement, so either homecoming, like we’ve talked about, with not just sports, but other theater events and arts activities. Just creating an atmosphere where there’s always something to do at Pingree, after school, on Fridays. I remember my sophomore year, typically, there would be some highlighted event on a Friday and there was a hypnotist one week, or dances, just always having that option, that there is something that the community is providing.

Annabelle: Our homecoming week is kind of our big thing, and we would definitely start the year with that, probably to end the first trimester with it, so that we could do a highlighted football game, the fall play, a visual arts thing as well. Kind of like Springfest, which I helped organize, and it ended up being super easy. Another idea would be getting some of the equity and inclusion clubs, like ARE, PoCC to come in and pick places that the community could donate to, so we would sell $5 tickets and the proceeds would go there. We would allow the clubs to get more involved by setting up booths or something like that. 

The other major aspect of this role is that, if elected, you would be the student body’s most powerful advocates to the administration. What issues do you plan on bringing forward in that capacity?

Annabelle: Like I said earlier, definitely the issue around racial justice. I really am an advocate for sex-positive education, and this is something that I’ve been pushing this year, around trying to get a sex-ed program, because I think it’s a little crazy that we don’t have anything in high school. Even a two-week H-block, Ms. Poulin’s offered to run it, I already have the pieces, but I just need the power to push it. I’m also trying to figure out where the funding is going for the arts, and I’ve been in contact with Mr. Haltmeier and Arlynn about that. I already have an entire community set up who are interested in talking about this, and interested in talking about the gender diversity that we have in the arts program and in the sports program, and how we can start to get the community more comfortable. That’s something that I’m in communication with the administration about, as well as the equity and inclusion issue.

Teddy: Furthermore, I think we have a very involved student body and I think a lot of students have interests and want to see change. I think we could act as a great medium for advocating change that the students want to the faculty. We’re both very approachable people.

Annabelle: To affirm that, we’ve done it before. It’s not like we’re going into this not having done anything. I’ve been talking and I know who my people are in the adults who I can go to always and always are behind me. I’ve gotten things done, like getting support for a junior prom, even though we ended up not going down that path. We have done it before and it’s not like we’re going into this fresh. They already know us, and they already know that we’re serious and driven, and I think that’s really important for the faculty to realize, because they’ll take us seriously. 

Everyone wants to vote for the pair they think is capable of winning. So, why do you think you can win this election? 

Teddy: Just by being approachable and having connections with large portions of the student body. We cover athletics, from personal experience, I’ve done almost every after-school activity: I’ve done football, lacrosse, yoga, robotics, strength and conditioning, and Annabelle’s done theater. We have a wide variety of interests and passions and I think that shows. I think we represent Pingree as a whole, not just certain isolated demographics. 

Annabelle: Pingree loves to say that it’s a perfect balance of arts and sports, and that’s exactly who we are. The fun thing about it is that we’re not isolated in what we do. We’ve both experienced both sides of it and we’re passionate about what we do. Again, I think we reach very different audiences which is a really good thing, because we’re doing this together. We weren’t best friends before this! So we’re really getting to know each other right now. 

What strengths or experiences would you bring to this office, if elected?

Teddy: I think both of us are very rigorous students. And in addition to that, we’ve also been very involved in the community in a wide variety of clubs. We’ve already demonstrated that we can handle large workloads and high expectations. Not only do we have ideas to bring, but we also have a good deal of results. 

Annabelle: I’ve seen results from my actions before, and I think that’s something important that I don’t necessarily see in a lot of the candidates who have run in my years. I was one of the reps for the juniors, which ended up being a lot of work, and I loved every second of it. I didn’t expect it to be such a commitment and I really enjoyed myself and getting to know people that I wouldn’t get to know. We’ve been really creative. The Outer Banks Zoom call was my family. That kind of enthusiasm about getting things done shows we’re super passionate.

Teddy: Organizing junior prom, I don’t know if we can say that, was basically Annabelle! She organized the Outer Banks Zoom, founded Banana Splits club, founded Allies for Racial Equality. Anything else?

Annabelle: (laughing) I was the only freshman on Equity and Inclusion Committee, which I love doing. I get so heated in there. We have a lot of strengths and overall, I’m very fired up and Teddy is a good calming force to me. It’s a good balance for us, so when he gets fired up I’m like, “okay, let’s think about how we can actually, practically go about this.” We’re really good at getting things done. And we just decided to run, like, two days ago! 

Teddy: It’s been in the works for a while. 

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?

Teddy: Homecoming week, more highlighted events, more highlighted dances. I’d say consistency in that. Our goal right now is to have some event every Friday that can engage the community. I also think we have to think about the position that the incoming freshmen are going to be in. They have missed seventh and eighth grade, which I know, a lot of us looking back might say, “Oh, I wish I could have missed those middle school years,” but being 12 and 13 years old  and missing two key years of social interaction – engaging them as much as possible will be huge to us. Smaller in-school activities too, just things to bring everyone just a little bit more joy in the day. Whether it’s gratitude, the spoon game, scavenger hunts. Both of us are pretty creative people. We’re definitely going to execute on a lot of these larger highlighted events, but also just a lot of smaller things to make every day a little bit better. 

Annabelle: My little brother is coming in as a freshman, so I’ve got the inside scoop. I think exactly what Teddy said, getting the incoming freshmen comfortable, making the sophomores next year feel like they’ve chosen the right school. Another idea is having huge icebreaker games. We do them all the time in theater. Those can be really fun, and starting the year off with competition games is a good way to get to know each other. Of course, making those inclusive because we’ve had a lot of conversations about ableism and including differently-abled people. We don’t necessarily only do Grit N’ Wit because there is a community that can’t participate and we want to make sure everyone feels comfortable. 

 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?

Annabelle: This is a super fun thing, just getting to run. I hope that they can tell how much joy we’re bringing to it, no matter what happens obviously. It’s just been super fun so far to be excited about something, and I hope that we can maintain this energy through our last year here. It’s crazy that we’re going to be seniors.

Teddy: We’ve talked at length about a lot of the more concrete plans or past experiences here, but just an overall theme that we want to bring forward is just bringing back that sense of community. More positivity, more engagement, more fun things to do on campus. With COVID, as much as school’s really continued, the fun community aspect of school has not been maintained. All the hard academic parts of school have continued, but a lot of the communal parts have not. Just trying to recreate that balance with social interaction.