Montes-Sharp Elected SSC President, Pledging to Improve Collaboration, Equity and Green Initiatives

Photo by Simon Kessler.

At the Monday meeting on May 22, Assistant Principal for School Life Quinn Killy announced that junior Julian Montes-Sharp, who served this school year as the Student Staff Council treasurer, will be the SSC president for the 2023–2024 school year.

Montes-Sharp ran against junior Rand Poellnitz, who had served as vice president. The two candidates gave speeches in the Forum on May 19. As president, Montes-Sharp will be responsible for leading SSC meetings, overseeing SSC initiatives and meeting with members of the school’s administration, among other duties. Montes-Sharp will succeed graduating senior Jacqueline Metzger.

Montes-Sharp and Poellnitz are the only two representatives for the class of 2024 who have been on SSC since their freshman year. In the 2021 SSC presidential election, only two candidates ran for the seat. Last year, Metzger ran unopposed.

After the results of the presidential election were announced, SSC held a meeting at 3:30 p.m. to elect its cabinet members. At the meeting, sophomores Natalia Freedman, Jeremiah Farr and Koen Yu were elected as vice president, treasurer and secretary, respectively. At first, there was a four-way tie between seven representatives nominated for secretary; after a re-vote, Yu was chosen as secretary. (Freedman and Farr are on the Bit’s staff.)

Montes-Sharp said he ran for president to increase SSC’s collaboration with other groups. He said SSC has a reputation for being unproductive, and he cited a lack of collaboration. “We tend to work by ourselves and be very insular, and we don’t necessarily reach out to other groups as much as we should,” Montes-Sharp said.

Montes-Sharp told the Bit that one of his main goals is to address socioeconomic disparity. He cited the cost of parking spots on campus as one of the “institutional problems that don’t take into full account the socioeconomic diversity of GDS,” he said.

Montes-Sharp also wants to provide all students with academic resources, proposing that GDS purchase premium subscriptions to Quizlet, an online studying resource.

Freshman Charlotte Glendinning said she thought that addressing socioeconomic disparity was an important issue, but she was concerned about where the money for initiatives like a school-wide Quizlet Plus subscription would come from. Glendinning said she thinks Quizlet Plus would be beneficial to students, but it might make sense to allocate money that would be spent on Quizlet elsewhere.

Montes-Sharp said he plans to hold more events, like the Student-Staff Breakfast and Valentine’s Day activities, to increase school spirit. He said that school-sponsored events are important for community bonding and to show the student body that “there’s some things that we can do just for the purpose of bringing joy to students.”

Sophomore Bijan Hollinger said he supported Montes-Sharp’s initiative to increase community bonding activities. “Him organizing these activities is really going to be priceless,” he said.

Junior Morgana Brand said she thinks community events are not successful at bringing the student body together, as students tend to gravitate toward their friend groups. “I don’t know if what the school needs is more events sucking up students’ time,” she said.

Montes-Sharp also said he wanted to improve composting and sponsor other sustainability efforts. Montes-Sharp wanted to work closely with Enviro Club, the Environmental Task Force and the science department to organize composting efforts.

Glendinning, who is a member of Enviro Club, said that other members thought Montes-Sharp’s and Poellnitz’s SSC speeches discredited the work that Enviro Club has done. “Both of the candidates took the achievements of Enviro as SSC’s, especially composting,” she said.

Poellnitz mentioned in his speech that his priorities were to welcome feedback and complaints from students, provide seniors with the opportunity to be certified in mental health first aid, be more environmentally sustainable and organize community service opportunities.

Brand said she thought that Montes-Sharp’s speech expressed more novel ideas to her, while Poellnitz’s speech covered issues that she had already been aware of.

Sophomore Ava Hall said she voted for Montes-Sharp because she was more captivated by his speech. “I feel like he got up there and immediately knew what he wanted to say,” she said.

When the results of the SSC election were announced by Killy at the Monday meeting, Montes-Sharp stood before the school and encouraged students to come to the SSC meeting that afternoon and voice their opinions.

Hollinger thought it was important that Poellnitz ran for president, as the ideas Poellnitz voiced during his speech might inform future SSC decisions.