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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

New ISU presidents have bold plans


The WIS upper school has elected its new International Student Union (ISU) presidents, Jakobi Haskell, and Torin O’Brien. On Wednesday, April 24, WIS upper schoolers filed into the gym bleachers to hear the speeches of ISU candidates running for the cabinet positions. The most important position, ISU President, had four candidate pairs. There were rising seniors Daniel Freymann and Emre Topkinar, rising juniors Lincoln Manzi and Nicolas Greamo, and rising seniors Fabrice Gray and William Raineri. However, in the end, Haskell and O’Brien won the vote of the high school student body.

Haskell and O’Brien’s speech won the people over with comedy, as well as serious policy proposals. They joked about the ISU having enough money in their budget to buy everyone at school a Juul, which garnered laughs. Then when they switched to serious topics like tampons and the Life Skills curriculum, they earned applause. The crowd was on their side from the start, possibly due to their appeal between various grades as the winning pair was the only duo who had candidates from different grades.

Their combined experience was also a factor in their popularity. Before election day, Haskell spoke about his and O’Brien’s candidacy. He outlined their experience, serving in ISU and leading clubs. For the past year, Haskell has served as the ISU Treasurer. O’Brien leads the Bee Club, which is dedicated to protecting bee populations, and was an eleventh grade representative in ISU.

ISU Presidents Jakobi Haskell (Left) and Torin O’Brien (Right). (Photo by David Allen)

Haskell made it clear that they want to increase student influence in major decisions by increasing student power in ISU. “Last year, when the library was being removed, we had no say over what was going on,” Haskell said. “What we’re working on now in ISU and what we’d work on as presidents in the future, would be to have a say in what’s going on around school.”

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With their influence, the pair wants to make changes in other areas of the school. Nearly all the candidates talked about making sure tampons are stocked in the women’s bathrooms, including Haskell and O’Brien. Haskell breached the topic of the Life Skills curriculum, saying that it was his least favorite class because the curriculum feels redundant. One of the core components of the 10th grade Life Skills class is CPR training, but according to Haskell, “if you’ve already been CPR certified, there’s really no point,” but he has ideas to improve it.

Vincent Haskell, Jakobi Haskell’s father, is a public defender, and one of O’Brien and Jakobi Haskell’s ideas was to get Vincent Haskell to give a seminar during Life Skills on how to deal with the police and knowing your rights, Jakobi Haskell said.

The new co-presidents will take office immediately, and their first priority is to evaluate the way the ISU budget is being spent. In their speech, one of their core campaign promises was to spend more money. In their speech, they brought up the large surplus in the ISU budget, money which they say could be spent on improving the student quality of life. They mentioned spending more money on tampons in the women’s bathrooms and will find more areas to spend money on as their term progresses.

But their goals go beyond what they touched on in their campaign speech. In an interview since their election, O’Brien and Haskell mentioned that they liked some of the ideas of other candidates and student leaders. Candidates Fabrice Gray and William Raineri have already begun implementing a Senior-Junior mentorship program, a project to help Juniors getting ready for the IB with advice from seniors. “We think this is a great idea and they should keep it going,” O’Brien said. They also want to work with presidential candidates Emre Topkinar and Daniel Freymann. “[Their] Assassin game seemed like a really fun idea and it would be cool if we could work with them to get that going for next year.” Assassin is a game that rising seniors played over the past year, and many felt that it boosted grade unity, and the presidents want to bring it to the rest of the upper school.

Haskell and O’Brien hope to create a spirit of collaboration with the WIS administration. As mentioned earlier, a major aim of their presidency is to expand the influence that ISU has at the school. In order to do that, the presidents say they want to “set up a meeting with Ms. Jemsby and the admin to set up the boundaries of the power that ISU has in the administrative decision-making process.” This will be necessary, because as of now, ISU has not been a part of some previous major decisions, like the unforeseen design lab plan from last year.

The new presidents of the ISU have high hopes for the upcoming school year. They have already begun communicating with the student body with an email inviting students to talk to them and voice concerns regarding the recent controversy about the primary school. Among other goals, communication is key, and O’Brien and Haskell hope to continue to represent the interests of the students and advocate for change.

By David Allen

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