As the West Quad North Cluster co-president alongside Eliza Bienstock ’18, I’ve had the privilege of serving the largest of Andover’s five clusters. We serve quite a diverse group, ranging from Juniors to Post-Graduates, international as well as domestic students, spanning a range of interests, talents, and intellectual capabilities. However, with this large group also comes many voices that are unafraid to point out the lack of variety in our cluster events, the absence of day student representation in our cluster, the disjointed nature of our lower and upperclassmen, and even miniscule observations such as our lack of a Snapchat filter.
I’d often wondered how I was possibly going to mobilize any of these ideas. But then, I realized there was one saving grace in this situation: I was not alone in any carrying out these laudable goals. Through my relationship with my co-presidential partner, Eliza Bienstock, I have discovered what it means to effectively collaborate, communicate, join forces, re-evaluate situations, and go back to the drawing board over and over again. No doubt, two presidents are better than one.
In retrospect, it has only been nine weeks into my Senior year, and we have catapulted ideas unimaginable only months ago. From a successful collaborative event with our neighboring cluster West Quad South, to our upcoming Pajama Day Dinner this winter, our greatest accomplishments thus far have been successful with the help of our amazing leadership cohort — the West Quad North Cluster Council. In our small meetings held in the cozy living room of Ms. Fenton — our illustrious cluster dean — we have created multiple effective modes of communication; from launching our first leadership Facebook page, to our first Instagram account, we have been able to harness the power of social media to collectively reach higher heights.
However, a healthy and thriving relationship in a co-president pair is not an easy one to foster. Though there are two individuals involved, operating with a united front is the ultimate goal, and it can be laborious at times. I’ve found that interpersonal communication can be one of the most difficult skills to cultivate as a cohesive unit. This often comes in the form of finding a time that works for us to meet while juggling full schedules, holding each other accountable to the promises made in your platform, as well as simply texting back when your partner reaches out to you. A relationship that is somewhat analogous is that of co-pilots. In order to reach any given destination safely, successfully, and smoothly, there must be a clarity about where they are trying to land by the end of their journey. The same is true when having two individuals or co-presidents at the helm of student government: it only works when they can see the current state of their cluster or school body and come into agreeance about where they are trying to take them by the school year’s end.
Unsurprisingly, the system of co-pairs has thrived in a large community like Andover’s. I’ve seen the most amazing relationships and indelible impacts come from our co-president pair, and I believe that our small community will experience huge success because of it.
Daniel James is a three-year Senior from Cayce, S.C., and West Quad North Cluster Co-President.