Meet the New Presidents


Jerry Sheng ’20

We are honored and humbled to be chosen by our peers for such an important position. We’re very excited to begin working with students and administration to make our home, Hotchkiss, a better place. We fully recognize the time commitment and are prepared to put our heart and soul into this. We’re going to get stuff done next year, and we’re going to have a good time doing it! – Luke and Maggie

Jeffrey Zhai ’20 sat down with newly elected All-School Presidents Luke Kalaydjian ’20 and Maggie Ottenbreit ’20 to discuss their hopes and plans for next year.

There were a lot of pairs running this year. What do you think made you guys stand out from the other candidates?
Maggie: We both absolutely love Hotchkiss and want to make it a better place. We want to have a big impact on this school, and I think that, even though Luke is new, he has past experience with leadership, and we both know the time commitment that it takes. He [also] has an older brother who has been here for two years, so I think that we [both] really know the school well. [Since] we are both very outgoing people [and] good at communicating with faculty, [it] really [gave] us a leg up.
Luke: This is something that we [will] put our heart and soul into. We [will] do basically anything to make this school better [for everyone].

This school year our presidents were Dan and Caitlin. What do you guys think you can do better, and what do you think they didn’t do well this year?
Maggie: I think that Dan and Caitlin did [well] this year. They were a great presence, [and are] both amazing people. I think that there was a lot going on behind the scenes this year, especially with interdorming at the beginning of the year, [but] I think that we want to do more.
Luke: I think Dan and Caitlin, not to put words into their mouths, might be disappointed because they [didn’t have the chance to get to a] lot more personal projects complet[ed], just because there were so many other things going on during the year that might have taken up all of their time. Hopefully we will be able to find a balance in doing things that satisfy both the students and the faculty, as well as [continuing] projects that we hope can become traditions for many years to come.
Maggie: We just want to continue what [Dan and Caitlin] have started, and I think because we’re [getting to a place where] the faculty and the students trust together, we can further work on [improving] that situation. We want to continue the work that [they started] as well as start our own initiatives. I think Dan and Caitlin did a great job, but these are some things that we can always keep improving.

This fall was a rocky period of time for the entire community. What do you think can you do to avoid something like this happening again in the future?
Maggie: I think just communicating with the administration is a big thing that we want to start over the summer to talk about new initiatives and also student propositions that we want to show to the administration. I also think that since Dan and Caitlin were working on the Stu-fac Constitution this year I think there is a much closer relationship between the students and the faculty.
Luke: It’s going to involve a lot of building trust and connecting the bridges in between students and faculty, notably the administration, to enable for us to be able to implement these policies or even just make sure the students get what they really want. That may take a lot of time and we’re willing to really try to bridge that gap between students and the administration.

What are some of your biggest goals for next year?
Luke: One of the major things that we would love to see and hopefully establish as a tradition is working with the Terry Fox foundation to create an annual event called the Terry Fox Run. Terry Fox was a Canadian icon, and the foundation is for cancer research. The day essentially involves a lot of activities similar to the Crop Walk, such as running or walking, with the goal of raising money.
Maggie: We also want to work with the administration to gain their trust, I think [gaining trust is important]. Trusting the students is so important for us to gain things like later check-in on Fridays with no Saturday classes and sleepovers. Also giving lower mids [fewer] study halls to ease the transition, because it is a hard transition.
Luke: Putting in smaller ideas may not seem like a big deal, but we want to just make everyday life easier for everyone.

A lot of students have complained about the lack of activities this year. How have you planned on improving that part of Hotchkiss?
Luke: At my previous school we tried to have at least one major event every few weeks. These could be major events that can take the entire day, such as the Terry Fox Run, which we’ve been doing for the past 50 years or so, but then they can also be just smaller things, like we could have something like a big Kahoot, or Bingo, just something going on the Student Center. We’re hoping to basically increase the spirit [and] fun, [and] increase just everything, so I think also spacing [is important].
Maggie: Typically when we all come back from breaks, the first weekend back is when we have most of these things. I think it would be nice to space them out more and have an event every weekend.
Jeffrey: Will you guys be planning on doing other things, so you guys will be more approachable to students, and so students will be more comfortable sharing ideas with you guys?
Luke: If you have any ideas, [please] come up to us. [For example,] I went up with a couple of my friends once, and I think it would be great to bring [back office hours]. We also want to be very approachable in general, so even if we’re not in the open office hours, if someone approaches us and says, ‘Oh yeah, I have this good idea that I want to get started here, or what do you think about this thing that’s going on?’ [We’d be] very happy to speak with them right in the hallway.

Luke, you mentioned that you had a lot of leadership roles before you came to Hotchkiss. Some people might still be convinced that, because you haven’t been here for a long time, you probably don’t know the school [as well] as people that [have been] here since prep year. What do you want to say to the people that doubt you?
Luke: My old school was fantastic, don’t get me wrong. It was very special for me, but Hotchkiss is just [on] a whole other level. It astonishes me every single day – the opportunities that this place opens for me [and] the people here. Everything here is just absolutely amazing to me, and I want to make a difference here. I want to change something; I want to put myself in this community; I want to be able to help this place, and I would do anything for [it].