2023 Student Body Presidential Debate

Sam Houghton, Staff Writer

The EHS Presidential debate, hosted by Student Government, took place in the auditorium on Friday, April 14th. Three pairs of candidates answered various questions regarding our school. This year’s President, Darian Michaelides, moderated the debate. 

The ballot includes Lily Larson (junior) running with Mia Cannizzaro (junior), Chase Wignall (junior) running with Max Spaeder (junior), and Emma Renaud (sophomore) running with Eli Conti (sophomore). Freshman duo Gabe Hooker and Crow Chant, were unable to attend after an issue with submitting their signatures. However, you can still vote for them as write-in candidates.

The rules were simple. Each candidate received 45 seconds to answer the question, and rebuttal were 20 seconds. Time was kept by Vice President, Nathan Lesny. 

Chase Wignall and Max Spaeder strongly believe they are the best candidates for the job. When asked what is the most pressing issue students are facing right now, Wignall thinks it is Snapchat and Tik Tok being blocked on the wifi. He believes that with enough signatures from the students themselves, administration will agree to unblock the social media platforms. 

Lily Larson and Mia Cannizzaro are running because they feel they are a great team that will make the students’ voices heard and listen to what the students want changed. One of their main priorities is to reduce the waste from the cafeteria because they want to help improve the environment and make the campus a healthier place. “We also want the student body to be included in extracurriculars and sports events,” added Larson. “So that’s increasing attendance and awareness of what’s going on with those school events.”

Emma Renaud and Eli Conti also want the students’ voices heard, and they believe they can achieve whatever the student body wants. “Essex deserves the excellence we can provide” is their motto. They think one of the most important issues is how the school is lacking spirit. “We want to implement morning announcements,” said Renaud. “We all know that when we have school events and more of us come it’s more fun, and we want to celebrate our hard working peers,” Renaud elaborated. In addition, she wants to allow the students to choose what each day is going to be during spirit weeks.

On the same line as school spirit, Wignall and Larson also have opinions on school spirit

Wignall wants to step it up a notch in decorating for events like Homecoming and pep rallies. If elected, he also would like to make more spirit weeks and bring back school colors on Fridays.

Larson announced that she would like to work on more advertising if elected. This is part of her plan to make everyone more aware of what’s happening which then gets more people involved. “That includes putting up posters around the hallways, decorating for special events, and being the bridge between student voice and admin in terms of putting on special school events,” she expressed.

Wignall believes he will make the most changes happen around athletics and activities. He wants to help new sports teams get started. “We will do that through Student Government by helping get funding until they can get recognized by admin,” explained Wignall. Similarly, another goal is to help jumpstart clubs. “We’re looking to have students really reach out and have their ideas heard, so we can have a more spirited school,” finished Wingall.

Moving away from sports, Renaud and Conti are focused on providing a space where equity and inclusivity are the expectation. “We want our presidential Instagram account to be a good place where people can share their ideas, their problems, and we will hear you,” said Renaud. In addition, Renaud and Conti want to create a form on the EHS website where students can contact them and express any questions, comments, or concerns they may have. “…and we will use that feedback in our weekly meetings with admin,” Renaud concluded. 

Focusing on academics, Larson and Cannizzaro want to increase FLEX days and opportunities for students to connect with their teachers. “Ideally we want students to feel safe and comfortable in their learning atmosphere,” Larsen said. 

One question asked was “how well can you represent the student body’s voice to admin?”

Wignall and Spaeder are involved in different clubs and activities, and they think that is a great advantage. “Max does Varsity sports and he’s the captain for those. I’m a member of ALC, Student Government, and a former band member at EHS,” shared Wignall. “I kind of represent one side of the school and he represents the other side.” The two candidates believe that this is exactly what is needed for all voices to be heard. They also would like to implement coffee houses every week during FLEX where students can express their opinions with Wingall and Spaeder, and then they will bring those voices to administration.

Renaud explained how she is a two-year member of Student Government and is currently serving on the Issues Committee. She mentioned how because Conti is not on Student Gov, the two create a nice balance between Student Gov information and what the rest of the student body knows and wants. Next, Renaud made it clear that she meets all the requirements for President. “The job as President is chief executive, chief legislator, chief spokesperson, and chief role model. And all of that combined, I feel as though I’m the best candidate to be able to do that,” Renaud affirmed.

Wignall made the only rebuttal in the debate here. He asked Renaud how she feels she can lead the school since she will be a junior and not a senior.

“I feel that in my time here I have accomplished so much, especially as a member of the Issues Committee,” Renaud responded. She went on to say she has talked with many of the past Presidents and candidates, and believes that she is qualified to do the job as well as any upperclassmen would be able to.

Larson shared that she and her running mate know how to communicate effectively with the people and each other. They are both involved in the Environmental Club, have roles in Student Gov already, and Larson plays sports. “Although Mia and I do have some ideas and our plan outlined for what we want to do for the next school year, we are also very open minded candidates,” she mentioned. They will never stop communicating the student’s opinions with the administration. “We know how to get it done,” he finished.

To finish, anyone in the auditorium could ask questions. Wignall was asked how he will convince administrators that his plan to unban Snapchat and Tik Tok will not be disruptive and/or distracting to students in class.

In Wignall’s response, he restated what he said before about his general plan to get enough signatures from the student body to convince the admin. “I feel like that shows, you know, students have a voice, and this is a democracy and we want something changed. And we want this issue to be brought about the right way,” Wignall replied. “It is a great thing.”

Renaud chipped in by saying that Snapchat was not the main focus in admin’s banning of several platforms, so it should go over well with admin, and they’ll be happy to talk about it.

Voting will take place on Monday and Tuesday, April 17th and 18th. The winner must receive at least 40% of the vote. If that does not happen, the vote will move to the Senate for the final say. 

Make your voice be heard by casting your vote outside the lunch room during all lunches.