Newport Beach kids are taking over a Santa Ana school’s associated student body.
Almost half of the cabinet members at Mater Dei High School are from Newport Beach. There are four ASB cabinet members from each grade, plus four that lead the entire school, totaling 20 student government positions, eight of which are filled by Newport Beach kids.
The Newport Beach natives in Mater Dei ASB include: seniors Thomas Sweeney, ASB president, Daniella Chila, ASB secretary, and Erin Hinkelman, class secretary; junior Nick Adams, class vice-president; sophomore Peter Seidner, class president; and freshmen Jordan Kessler, class president, Samantha Leonard, class vice-president, and Savannah Lehner, class treasurer.
Some of the students had leadership roles at their middle schools, Adams said.
“I thought it was fun and interesting and there was nothing else like it,” Adams said, so he wanted to continue his involvement at Mater Dei.
Many of them also knew that ASB and student involvement is a “really big deal” at Mater Dei and knew they wanted to be a part of that.
Although the school’s official motto is “honor, glory, love,” there’s seems to be a second, unofficial motto of “get involved,” Kessler said.
And there are a lot of ways to get involved.
On top of the ASB cabinet positions, there are also commissioners for various areas, including, campus ministry, citizenship, health, safety & campus green team, red wave & rallies commission, and the scarlet ambassadors, and more.
Joining ASB is also a good way to meet new people, said Lehner, who came from Corona del Mar Middle School.
The Newport natives came from Our Lady Queen of Angels, CdMMS, Harbor Day, St. Mary’s School in Aliso Viejo, and St. Joachim Catholic School in Costa Mesa.
Another noteworthy point are the freshman ASB cabinet members: All four are girls. This is the first time in recent memory, if ever, that this has happened at the school.
It’s fun to have all girls in the cabinet, Leonard said, but can be difficult because they don’t have a male’s point of view on dances, rallies and other events and activities.
“So we might have more girly ideas and we’ll have to ask other guys what they think of it,” Leonard said. “So it’s kind of hard to incorporate things [that the male students would enjoy] but it’s also good because we (get to) work together and it’s easy to communicate with each other.”
The adults are making a bigger deal about it than the students are, Kessler added.
“Sexism is almost completely irrelevant, at least here on Mater Dei campus,” Kessler said, and since they were elected on a point based system, she noted, “it wouldn’t make a difference if we would have had guys as opposed to girls.”
It’s not a big deal, this is just how it happened, the three girls agreed.
On a bigger level, women in politics have been on the rise in recent years, Hinkelman pointed out. She feels there could definitely be a female in the oval office soon.
It really doesn’t matter, as long as she or he is qualified, they all agreed.
They may not be able to vote yet, but this year’s presidential election is still important to these student leaders.
The seniors have taken an interest in their government classes, including watching and discussing the debates. They also had an assignment to research each candidate and learn about their stance on various issues.
A handful of Mater Dei students, including several from the Newport ASB group, are also planning on attending the presidential inauguration in January.
They’re all very excited, they agreed.
“We’ll get to see a moment in history,” Hinkelman said.
It will be a good time to reflect and think about their own futures, a few of the students noted.
“We’re the next generation,” Hinkelman said. “So, we get to see what’s to come and think about how we can make an impact.”
A few of them even have ideas and suggestions for current government leaders.
Coming up with creative solutions and fresh ideas are part what being in the associated student body teaches, they said, which will help them in the future.
“One of the cooler things about ASB, besides helping out your fellow students… I get this feeling that this is one of the best ways we can all prepare ourselves for professional life because thinking about what you have to do on the smaller Mater Dei scale [like developing ideas, organization, planning and communication] can be applied to so many different areas of life,” Sweeney said, “because hopefully we all want to be leaders in our fields, I think we all have the talents to, and those are the exact skills that we can really develop at a young age in ASB.”
The Indy will be featuring student governments from local schools throughout the school year.