High school juniors across the country are well accustomed to the traditional process of electing a group of their peers to represent them in the student government. The process occurs during the same time every year, when students file into the humid gymnasium and sit side-by-side along the bleachers, maniacally fanning the sticky summer air around them as they attempt to comprehend and make judgments on candidates and their campaign speeches. However, Madison High School’s election speeches to determine the 2012-2013 senior class representatives seemed to lift the drooping eyelids of members of the packed audience, eliciting various emotional outbursts of both approval and disapproval.
In previous years, many MHS student government elections consisted of candidates running unopposed for their subsequent positions, resulting in speeches with opening phrases such as “Because I am the only option for your upcoming secretary, this speech will consist of my plans for our class next year”, and an understandably apathetic response from the students in the audience. Although this year’s student election saw three unopposed candidates, the students running for these positions created an enthusiastic and interactive atmosphere with their speeches.
Matthew Fastiggi spoke first, his first words following an eruption of hollers and applause emanating from the bleachers. He intellectually, but also amiably, presented his ideas and plans for the future to the junior class, ensuring his listeners of his ability to fulfill the title of class president by serving as a true leader. Similarly, Mike Lebwohl’s speech for vice president was equally personable and reassuring, and generated an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience. Eric Lehman’s speech for treasurer was delivered with an admirable amount of energy and presence, capturing the attention of the audience. These three candidates, though unopposed, did not devote their short period of allotted speaking time to reading a laundry list of plans to be forced upon the class in the upcoming year, but rather made efforts to prove themselves worthy of the title that they would inevitably accept, a characteristic that seemed to bode well with listeners.
Excitement and anxiety arose amongst audience members following the perceived “final” speech for secretary by Kristi Burgess, a sweet and competent delivery which secured the junior class’ trust in her as their representative, as she had handled the job every year of high school thus far. It became clear that Burgess would be in a genuine competition for the position when Kevin Choi stepped in front of the microphone to speak in pursuit of the position of secretary. As a clever method of securing the notice of the audience, it quickly became evident that Choi’s speech was an astute parody of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, manipulated to refer to the student government necessities at Madison High School, such as fundraising options, and the prom committee. Following the five speeches, whispers and giggles wafted through the rows of students spread along the bleachers, bent over their ballots. “I might vote for Kevin,” a student whispered, “because his speech was funny”. It seemed as though quite a few students agreed with this mindset, and many who supported Kristi Burgess felt uneasy about the outcome.
However, when the official titles for the members of the 2012-2013 senior student government wandered through the hallways and classrooms of MHS via the loudspeaker, it seemed as though security and trust in Burgess’ previously proven work ethic took precedence over Choi’s humorous oration. The impending senior class student government positions are decidedly held by: Matt Fastiggi as president, Mike Lebwohl as vice president, Eric Lehman as treasurer, and Kristi Burgess as secretary.