Lunching with Leaders, Part I: Student Body Leader Candidates

Image provided by Sophia Smith ‘25 


The menu for Monday, May 6, 2024 was like a Saturday morning: Strawberry Quinoa Oats, French Toast Casserole, Spring Frittata, Turkey Bacon, and Sweet Potato Home Fries.  Shockingly, our candidate for Student Body President, Mikail O. ‘25 was uninterested in the plethora of breakfast food.  Straight to the French Toast Casserole he went, with no maple syrup, and a cup of water, plain.  Seated in his classic spot to the left of the toaster and in front of the entrance to the practice rooms, he took the first bite of his only serving of French Toast Casserole. The Gazette was quite shocked by the lack of maple syrup, and so was Mikail who rated the presentation a 4/10, and the taste a 7/10, highlighting the hint of sweetness, and finally ranking the texture a solid 5/10.  

From food politics to student politics, our meal opened up the discussion question of his qualifications to be the future president of our high school community. As a student representative in both 10th and 11th grade, Mikail said that he would make a good president, mainly because of  “my experience and the values I see in leadership.” 

In answering the question of whether he believed the student government could actually achieve anything, Mikail paid homage to current student body president, Zamira F. ‘24. Mikail stated,  “I’ve noticed this year with Zamira that there is a lot more potential with what the student body president can do than what I had initially thought. Most of it depends on how they choose to organize the council, and I guess what I am trying to do is allow for more grass roots communication between student reps and their grade.”  

Now this would not be a conversation in the lunch room without the state of the toaster arising.  A conversation that has been haunting the student body. Mikail declared that we will have a new and improved toaster.  This is one of the ways the student government has put to life what Mikail described as their purpose to be a “bridge between the student body and the administration. It is the way students can get their ideas across, visualize change, bring it up to the student government and have it come across.” 

Regarding his campaign, Mikail stated: “I am not a big campaign guy [and] I am not big on posters, but my biggest advantage is probably my connection with students.  Not superficial at all, I want you guys to decide who you think would be best based on the speech, how well you know the person, based on what you think they are really going to do.”  

With one final bite of his 5.3/10 French Toast Casserole, Mikail looked into the camera and announced his slogan that has remained with him since his first student government election in sixth grade: “a vote for me is a vote for you.”    

Image provided by Sophia Smith ‘25 


The menu for Tuesday, May 7, 2024 had those in the first lunch racing to get a spot in the front of the line.  The options included Broccoli Soup, Moroccan Chicken Stew, Vegetable Tagine, Sumac and Garlic Roasted Carrots, and finally Basmati Rice. 

Past the delicious hot lunch options, Sama E. ‘25 took me to the salad bar where she crafted a combination of lettuce, cucumber, carrots, feta, and salad dressing that looked to die for.  Seated at the high table outside the cafeteria with rays of sunlight shining down from the large window, Sama enjoyed her lunch. She rated the presentation a 9/10 and the texture a 9/10. 

Sama reflected back on her childhood stating, “I love this dressing. It’s the kind I ate when I was a kid.”  Perhaps the student government can ensure we all get our favorite childhood lunches one day.  

Student government is held to many expectations by the student body. In response to what is the real purpose of the student government, Sama stated: “I think the purpose of student government is to ensure students get a voice. Besides just Ms. Perry and the administration, students feel free to talk with us about what their concerns are and we can relay it back to them.  It also gives us a more official title so the administration has to take us more seriously.”  

Sama also highlighted the way Grace holds these elections, where faculty step back and the decision is truly student centered. 

As our lunch progressed, the hustle and bustle of the lunch room increased with students across all grades enjoying their meals, reminding us of what distinguishes this role from a singular grade’s student representative. What makes someone qualified to lead four different grades, under the umbrella of one community?  

Sama, as one of the current 11th grade student representatives, answered, saying that “one thing I really like about what I do here is communication. From the get-go I have cheer, so I know a lot of ninth graders and 10th graders. During volleyball preseason, when I was a sophomore, my main goal was to make people feel not scared because I think that’s what I really wanted in my freshman year.” 

She believes this quality and her current role as a representative have taught her to “talk to the administration and the student body.”  

As one of the student representatives, Sama was also an active participant in getting us a highly anticipated new toaster. She told the story of the accomplishment and what it meant for the image of the student government. Sama explained: “I think us talking to the head of the kitchen staff, talking to Mr. Reilly, and talking to Ms. Perry and Mr. James, and all the people, raising our own money showed [the] type of commitment and rallying that we have in student government. Accomplishing a goal we set in the beginning of the year really shows our drive and how ambitious and determined we are to help the student body.” 

As the race for the position of Student Body President continues, Sama’s campaign is spread through the halls with pins showing one of her three slogans, “Sama’s the one, let’s get it done!”, “Sama’s the choice, let her raise your voice,” and “She’s not a pop star but she’ll lead us far!”   

Image provided by Sophia Smith ‘25 


Tuesday, May 7, 2024 was a popular day for the salad bar as another one of the candidates, Paul J. ‘25, crafted his lunch there. Seated in the back left of the cafeteria, Paul gave a run through of his meal, which included cucumber, red wine vinegar dressing, feta, and pineapple. He rated the colorful salad an 8/10 and the pineapple a 10/10.  

In order to have a 10/10 understanding of the purpose of the Student Body President, we must hear the interpretation straight from one of the possible future sources. In his time as student representative in ninth grade and his time witnessing student government in a school across the world during a semester away, Paul has witnessed the universal purpose and restraints student government has. 

“I see student government as being the bridge between students and the faculty,” Paul said. “If people feel like there’s a disconnect, that is where/who I want to be.  The role of Student Body Leader and student government as a whole is to connect that bridge.” 

In regards to the restraints on student government, Paul calls himself a “realist,” and believes it would be his job to “take in concerns and present them to a wider body/larger group. There is only so much the student government can do realistically, but what we can do is offer you answers to your questions.”  

The Student Body President is a senior who is expected to lead our school. Paul touched on this topic when discussing the importance of seniors and this position to him. 

“A strong senior class and strong senior leader for the good or bad can define a new school year. For me, that’s why I want to run. I would hope to set a very fun, uplifting, positive environment.”  

In contrast to the other two candidates, Paul is not a current student representative, but he views this as a positive qualification. Paul believed in the value of “actually having the role of being in and out of student government in recent years, understanding from freshman year the limits that are put on from going into sophomore year when I wasn’t in student government. Having that and seeing both roles and hearing people’s complaints, hearing people say student government doesn’t do anything, hearing that and then knowing why that happens, that is something for me being in and outside the role I think is a quality that has made me more aware especially when hearing student grievances.” 

Finishing the first course and looking towards the final course, the future if Paul is elected, he is looking most forward to, “genuinely bringing joy to the school. My main goal is I am not going to lie to you. I am not going to deceive you about what we are doing. I want to be open. I want to spend money on you. I want to host little things that make people happy. The nature of a New York City private school can feel pressuring and small, like a pressure cooker sometimes, but we owe it to ourselves to have fun, to have a highschool experience that is full of joy and laughter.”        

Image provided by Sophia Smith ‘25 

Vote for the next Student Body Leader here

Sophia Smith ‘25, the author, is a staff writer for The Grace Gazette.