2021-2022 Student Body Co-President Candidates First Look: Matt Fonzi and Ally Krohg

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?

Matt: We’ve always looked up to our presidents. Freshman year, we had great co-presidents that brought a lot of energy to the school, and it made our freshman year a lot of fun, and we have had two years since then, so we’ve gotten to live through that full Pingree experience. We feel that we can bring that energy back to the school, and we want to give everyone the best year they can possibly have, after rebounding from a year and a half of the pandemic. I believe that Ally and I are a great pair together because we both bring that energy, we both do a lot of extracurriculars, we both love supporting our friends, whether through sports or the arts, and we think that it’s great to support everyone.

Ally: We also come from different sides of our class, even though we are in the same grade, and we’re really close friends at the same time. We have experience with sports, the arts, and academics, we try our best to stay well-rounded in and outside of school, to keep rigorous schedules. Like Matt said, I noticed the other day that the Pingree class of 2022 will be the only grade to have a full senior year at Pingree in a while. I think that this year is an important year to have strong leaders, and I think that Matt and I would be a pretty good pair.

What is the biggest issue you think that Pingree is currently facing? What solution/plan do you have for it?

Matt: Right now, I feel that one of the biggest things is the morale that we have right now: we’re kind of hitting that end-of-the-year block, we just had two days of classes per week for two trimesters, we hit four right away, we’re tired, we’re done, we all want to go home. We want people to stay at school and enjoy what we’re doing every single day. We don’t want people to have to dread waking up in the morning, thinking, I have to go back to school today. We want people to be excited for what the day holds in front of them. I feel like that is one of the biggest things that makes someone want to go somewhere – that motivation, whether it be staying after school, or even just going to school, and enjoying it knowing you’re going to have a good time with friends at every corner. We want to have that feeling that school’s not really a job, or something that you dread going to. We want school to be something that you look forward to every day.

Ally:  Yeah, I think we’re both excited to come not only for the benefits of spirit, and friends, but also for class and learning, and that’s what Pingree is all about.

Why do you think you can win? What makes you different from other candidates?

Matt: I feel like we bring a lot of spirit. I mean everyone sees us every day, we walk through the halls being very friendly, and we love meeting new people. I didn’t know a lot of the freshman class the first two trimesters, but by the third when things were a little looser, we could go around and see people and I got to meet a lot of people that I’m really glad I had the opportunity to meet. I feel like we’re trying to get our faces out there, trying to see who’s interested in doing certain things, and who we can help us get to that point. I feel like we kind of have that momentum, the energy to get people going. I’m loud, I’m on the morning meeting every day screaming at Mr. Young’s jokes! We just want people to be excited, and I feel like we definitely have the energy to bring Pingree to another level, above the level that we had our freshman year — which was top notch.

Ally: I also feel like Matt said, we’re very caring people, and we’re ready to go out of our way to do things for not only the school, but also the students. We really want to be the voice of the student body and to listen. We’ve already started talking to a lot of different people: saying that we’re the voice of the students doesn’t mean we’re just talking to our friends, it’s important that we’re talking to different grades, to everyone. We want change. We want to keep this school the same great Pingree that we love and represent, but we also have some super exciting things planned.

The example set by your leadership is crucial to school culture. What specific proposals do you have to diversify Pingree and promote all aspects of student life equally? What about improving reception to diversity, equity, and inclusion work? 

Matt: When it comes to promoting the arts, I know we used to have highlighted events to promote sporting events, but I feel like we definitely need to give more attention to shows, performances, and dances, and the people who maybe don’t participate in after-school activities such as sports, but who are really interested in the arts and who spend a lot of time putting on a show. These sorts of things are the events that we need to highlight more than ever because people want to showcase their talents, and I feel that they don’t get the respect that they deserve. By giving them that platform, by highlighting an arts event, we are able to get people to the event and can finally be able to support those people. I love going to the arts events because I know people who are in them, and it’s great to be able to support your classmates in doing that. We have coffeehouses at school every once in a while, and so people go to those, but when there’s a full-on theater performance that has been being produced for three months, and it doesn’t get the respect that it deserves, that has to be changed. We need these events to be at the forefront of Pingree, to be noticed, to be highlighted, to be watched, and to be supported by our peers. 

Ally: We’re also hoping to meet with the PoCC and other student government positions to see what they have to say about the community. If we win this presidency and are able to have a dominant voice in school, we’d like to be able to use it. Also, I have a short story about history class last year. I don’t know if you guys know this, but I’m usually pretty quiet, I have a quiet voice. I remember Matt last year called on me when he knew that I had something to say, and so he quieted down our whole class just so that he could hear my voice and my opinion. So, I think that that says a lot about who he is as a person, and who we can be as a team to hear each other and get everything out there.

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?

Matt: We want people to be together, we want that togetherness. Right now we still have to be kind of separated, we’re still in pods every day. What we really want is something that everyone can play, or do, together: maybe a game, or performance, or even charades, any event that people would be able to participate in and enjoy each other. Maybe we’d be able to set up a mixer for the freshmen — I know that when I was a freshman, I didn’t know anyone, and I was nervous! School can be nerve wracking, but we want people to immediately feel at home. We want to get people together, to get the whole school together, all four grades. We’re a small school: we’re a community, and we’re a family. The most important thing is feeling like Pingree is your second home. So, I feel like having events that get people to get to know each other, or games, would be great. But we don’t want to determine the game. We want students to decide. We don’t want to say, “okay, we pick this.” We want the students to tell us what they want and we want to try our best to make it happen.

Ally: Like Matt said, coming into Pingree, I didn’t know a lot of people. What was huge for me was that freshman orientation when the co-presidents at the time welcomed everyone in, holding tie-dye t-shirts. Matt and I are totally ready to be goofy, and make fools of ourselves if we have to, but we want to get everyone super happy and ready for the school year. 

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

Matt: Go with your gut. If we end up winning, we end up winning. But, all of the candidates are in this for the same reason, the same goal: we want a fun first year back, that’s going to be complete, that’s going to be normal, and that we’ll all enjoy. If we win, we’re going to try our best to make everything the best that it can be, so that the students can have a bigger voice than anyone else in this school, and to bring spirit back to Pingree. We are one Pingree, we’re one school, we’re one big, happy family, and we want to make everything as great as it can be.

Ally: I think, like Matt said, go with your gut. We would love to have your vote, but if we don’t, we’re still going to be here, and we’re still going to try our hardest to be there for you the whole year. So, our motives are still here, but it would be amazing to have that extra voice, and that extra platform in the school.