2022-2023 Student Body Co-President Candidates Q&A: Caitlyn Dion and Frankie Kennedy

As a preview for the upcoming election panel, we asked the five pairs of presidential candidates a few questions in hopes to capture their backgrounds, ambitions, and plans for next year; here is how they responded.

First, what is a fun fact about each of you?

Caitlyn is related to undoubtedly one of the worst presidents of all time, William Henry Harrison. No, it wasn’t because of his opinions or political affiliations, it is simply because he died after giving the longest ever inaugural address in history, which is ironic, given that this context is for an election interview… 

Frankie used to be a Tony Hawk-like competitive skateboarder (with his friends, that is).

What are three initiatives that you are looking forward to implementing if elected?

Firstly, house changes.

It has come to our attention that the house system needs some serious revamping. With this being said, Frankie and I have spent a lot of time brainstorming how we can improve it. We think that we could make houses bigger by moving to 2-4 houses instead of 6, in addition to adding more rewards throughout the very long school year. We hope that by breaking up prizes (voted on for students by students), there will be more morale between houses, more spirit, and more incentive for each trimester in addition to the ultimate house cup at the end of the year. 

In addition to this, in order to boost morale at highlighted events, we want to implement a brother and sister team system in which each after-school activity would have a partner team. With this, the partner team would be able to get up at morning meetings or send an all-school email about the team’s highlighted event, possibly get some decorations, and make the event as fun as possible. Because we are losing so many spirited upperclassmen, we thought this would be a good way to have a guaranteed riled-up fan section at every highlighted event.

Secondly, homecoming week.

Homecoming is something that people have been wanting for a long time and Frankie and I have taken note. Next year, we want to have a spirit week with spirit that is voted on by the whole student body. Along with spirit, hopefully, the Highlander Nation Instagram page will hold polls and games to keep the whole student body engaged – students with the most spirit can be voted on each day for house points. This week would have highlighted opportunities, and would lead up to a game under the lights with some sort of a cookout or pep rally for people to enjoy before the event starts. All of these events would lead up to an all-school homecoming dance Saturday night, which would wrap up the week with a bang and rally up the student body for the rest of the first trimester.

Thirdly, social change. 

While Frankie and I were discussing our campaign plans, there were two things that came up. For Frankie, that topic was mental health, and Pingree’s need to destigmatize struggling with it.

Frankie: At Pingree, I know many people that struggle with mental health, as I do as well. During my time at Pingree, in the class, and with my student leadership roles, mental health has been at the front seat of many discussions.  I feel as though more could always be done to help these kids who struggle every day. Speaking from experience, it helps for them to know that others are going through it as well. As I have been at Pingree, I have focused on advocating for the kids that can’t speak up for themselves. They have a voice, which is just as important as anyone else’s, but they may not be loud enough for people to hear. So, I am here to be the messenger for the kids that are hurting on the inside, who can’t express themselves as others can. The only way to help and heal, is to ask, be proactive, and care. I feel as though I have done those things with my time at Pingree. But, I’m always striving to do better.

Caitlyn: I believe that it is time to have an openly queer president at Pingree. I kick myself every day for being someone so confident, yet so afraid to come out at Pingree. I want people to know that they can be their fullest selves and not worry about people judging or harassing them for it. I know of too many people who are scared to come out at Pingree, perhaps due to their fear of being made fun of or excluded. 

What makes you different from other candidates?

We have the experience and the record to back it up. 

Frankie and I have been working together as class representatives for two years now, so our dynamic is great. Although we have different friends and are involved in different activities, together we work to get things done efficiently and effectively. With this experience, we have developed unmatched relationships with the faculty and staff here at Pingree, but we have also tried to go above and beyond to listen to the wants and needs of our class. From advocating for mental health breaks in tough points during the year, to advocating for and achieving the first-ever Junior Formal in school history, we know how to roll up our sleeves, put the work in, and get things done. 

What made you interested in becoming co-presidents and representing Pingree?

For Frankie and I, the interest was sparked because of our drive to promote and activate our community. Whether it be advocating for the causes that we talked about, with social change or just giving people an outlet to have fun at a dance, or relax at a bagel breakfast, we have found joy in giving back to our class these past two years. As cheesy as it sounds, now we want to do the same for the whole school. 

Although Frankie and I come from completely different friend groups, we believe that it is truly Pingree fate that we were able to form such a strong partnership through our work together in student government these past two years. With this, we believe that together, we can truly invoke change and get things done, as we balance each other out and have loads of ideas that we would love to implement into daily life here at Pingree.