Q: Why did you choose to run for your specific position in the Senate? What difference do you think you can make in that position? Please provide specific and detailed answers.
Witsil: Months ago, when the call went out for Treasurer candidates, I stepped forward because I have the experience, leadership, and desire to do this job. As Pledge Detroit Co-chair, I’ve worked with Keegan Kochanek, the current Treasurer, on our biggest student fundraiser. I’ve also worked as a Homeroom Representative and been involved in various U of D groups. I have both broad and deep experience.
The student Senate Treasurer is essential because, without the money that the Treasurer is responsible for bringing in and tracking, we can’t pay for the activities that groups are planning. It also is hard work. Experience — and intent to be Treasurer — matters. That’s how I see it. I’m committed to using all I have learned to serve other students, our school, and our community. I have a mind for math and business. I also have ideas that go beyond maintaining our finances. I will work and advocate for you.
Since I started in the Academy, Senate officers have been Cubs I looked up to. They inspired me to get involved in the Senate and work hard to make a difference, and they keep inspiring me as they succeed in the world. I now have a chance to be that officer for the Freshmen and Sophomores and continue the work this year’s Juniors and Seniors started. The position is an opportunity to serve, to give back. During my time at the High, I’ve chosen a path to prepare me to be Treasurer. I’ve also considered how I will best serve you and the school. I am asking you to vote for me on April 30.
As Treasurer, I will represent all students, whether they are new to The High — or, like me, are going on their sixth year here. I will give voice to students who feel no one is listening to them. I will use my leadership experience as a Marching Band Co-Drum Major, as a travel soccer team Co-Captain, and as an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader of a Troop of more than 100 scouts. I will use what I have learned in the Generation of Promise and the Hugh O’Brian leadership programs.
Cronan: I chose to run for Treasurer when given the opportunity because I want to serve the school as a Senate Officer and help my fellow students. I agreed to run for Treasurer because of one thing that has always bothered me: How not all the clubs receive the money they ask for in appropriations. As Treasurer, I would like to help ensure that all clubs are able to receive enough money to properly function. I believe I can make a difference by trying to make Pledge Detroit more fun for students, I will keep the Senate and Cub Community up to date with where the Senate funds are going, and I will also strive to help improve mental health and school spirit.
Q: What Senate activity would you like to replicate and build on?
Witsil: Pledge Detroit is a vital fundraiser for us, and, as I said as co-chair in 2020, we need to crush our financial goals every year. However, Pledge Detroit is about more than money. It builds relationships. It promotes service and pride in a city that, despite its hardships, keeps moving forward. It does good in Detroit. The fundraiser and Walk-A-Thon remind us that we are “Men for Others.” With this in mind, I’ll build on Pledge Detroit’s success. I’ll invite leaders, such as Mayor Duggan, City Council members, and neighborhood leaders, to join us, like I invited former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard to speak to my Contemporary Politics class. He shared his insight and experience with us. I’ll also ask U of D Alumni to tell us what it was like back in the day and how they stay connected.
As for new initiatives, the pandemic has shown us we need to diversify our funding sources. I want to boost our fundraising power by adding opportunities such as Dress-Down days where the proceeds go to designated clubs and activities. A percentage of the sale of certain items in Cub Corner could go to fundraising. I also want to make sure that we work with clubs to help them get the money they need.
Throughout my campaign, I’ve asked you what you want from the Senate, and one of the things many of you told me was more fun events, like formal dances. You also want a student Bill of Rights. There are many rules at U of D to tell us what we can’t do. A student Bill of Rights would clarify what we can do. America’s forefathers realized a Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution was necessary. We should add one to ours, too. Here are two more reasons why we need one: A Bill of Rights will inspire and empower us, and U of D is “Committed to Justice.” So let’s be committed to out students.
Cronan: I would like to build on Pledge Detroit and help make it a little more fun for the students. Every year, we as a school wait until the very last minute to turn all of our money in for Pledge Detroit. I would like to set a mini-challenge deadline about a week before the money is due. I would like to make it a challenge between homerooms to see which individual homeroom can bring in the most money, or it could be the homeroom with the most amount of students who brings in all of their money. I believe by having the homerooms compete against each other it would bring about a fun rivalry between the homerooms, and it would get the students to try and donate their money earlier. The homeroom who wins this challenge could possibly get a prize like a Spirit Day or a free lunch or something like that.
Q: Each Senate officer leads a Senate committee. Which committee would you like to lead and why? What new idea would you bring to your committee?
Witsil: I’d like to lead the Pledge Detroit Committee. I’d bring my experience to the Committee and the passion I feel for it as a way to tie us to the city and community. Pledge Detroit is about how we pay for our fun, but it also should be fun — not just work. The payoff should be more social activities, such as formal dances and fun events. It also should be about the feeling we get from helping others. I’ll advocate creating two more committees focusing on health and equality.
If there is anything that we have learned from tragic events, our health and wellness must be a priority, and we must be a powerful force for change. U of D is known for fighting for social justice. We must keep pressing for diversity and equality in our school and communities. When we restore dances, we will invite students from Mercy, Marian, Regina, and other schools, to attend. But we don’t necessarily need just a dance to join forces with those same students as we advocate for gender equality, racial equality, and economic equality. New Senate committees will allow even more Cubs to participate in the Senate’s work.
Cronan: I would like to lead the Pledge Detroit/Service Committee of the Senate. I have experience with organizing events and managing money. I believe as Treasurer these are two very important skills to have. I will use these skills to make sure Pledge Detroit runs smoothly and all money is counted quickly and accurately. I want to improve Pledge Detroit with the challenge I discussed in the last question. A new idea I would like to bring to my Committee is to work with the Faith and Service Office to try and build a stronger connection between the two groups. I would like the Senate to help encourage students to participate in Faith and Service sponsored events, and I would like to try and build a service project or day that is sponsored by both the Senate and Faith and Service.
Q: Senior year is full of excitement, hard work, and fun. However, as a Senate officer, you’ll have a lot of extra work to do. What activities are you involved in and how will you balance these?
Witsil: My slogan is “Wit$il Works,” because I know this job is hard work, and I’ve proven that I am willing to work. The past five years at U of D have given me
experiences and insights that will help me. I’m in clubs. I’ve played a variety of sports, especially Soccer. I’m a leader in U of D’s bands. And I’m involved in Scouts. But, I also will not be doing this job alone. I am part of a team, and many hands lighten the load. I will keep working to be the Treasurer you deserve.
Cronan: The biggest activities I am involved in are Fall Play and the Spring Musical. These two require more time than the other clubs I am a part of, like Inscape and Outdoor Club. My goal is to always get as much work done during the school day to free up my time after school for clubs and other activities. I have no issue working on Senate items during my lunch period or my off-hour. I also know that in the Fall I tend to have the most free time immediately after school. I feel that this time will be very useful because the Senate is extremely busy within the first two months of school with planning all of the back-to-school events.
I think I will have no issue balancing between other clubs and the Senate during this time. During the Winter I get a little busier but I am committed to spending time whenever possible, including weekends, to ensure the job gets done. I plan to stay organized and plan to work closely with my Co-Chairs to help make sure the job at hand is getting completed.
Q: What do you see at UDJ that currently needs the most improvement or change? What would you do to get the change in motion? What would be the sign that the change is in place?
Witsil: Before I tell you about what needs work at U of D, I want to emphasize what works. We attend a school with nearly a century and a half of traditions. Men with distinguished careers are graduates. U of D is teaching us to think bigger and to fight injustice. It is preparing us for college and life. The school has pushed me to achieve more than I thought I could. I’m a proud Cub.
I’ve also outlined some specific things that I will work to change: diversifying our student fundraising, passing a student Bill of Rights, and adding more committees to focus on health and equality, the two areas where we need the most change. An example of a positive change underway is the “Be Nice” program that Senate President Nick Love and others started. We must continue to support this and also commit to boosting diversity and inclusion. We are at U of D because we want to do well and do good. We are “Men for Others.”
As Treasurer, I will fight for more activities that recognize our hard work. Signs that the changes were successful would be reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. We would see better overall health. There also would be more equality, diversity, and inclusion. Illness and inequality are challenging problems to discuss and solve, but we will “set the world on fire” as we work on them together.
Cronan: The two things that I see at UDJ that need the most improvement are mental health and school spirit. I would like to implement a teacher test/quiz calendar that teachers can use to see how many tests or quizzes students have on a given day. I would like to try and work with our teachers and administration to limit the number of tests or quizzes to 4 in any one day. A sign that this would be in place is that students would not be as stressed, and teachers and students would see an increase in test and quiz scores.
To improve school spirit I would like to revitalize the Cub Rewards program, which would allow students to earn points by attending different sporting events and club events. Students would earn these points and, by the end of the semester or the end of the school year, students would receive some kind of prize. Prizes could possibly be like a pizza lunch or a Dress-Down/Spirit Day. It might be fun to also make this a challenge between homerooms and the homeroom with the most points could win the prize. I believe that bringing back this program would get the Cubs excited about returning to big sporting and club events next year, as we start to come out of the pandemic.