Passing the Torch: Parting Advice from the All-School Presidents


Jerry Sheng ’20

All-School Presidents Daniel Pai ’19 and Caitlin Reilly ’19 prepare to say goodbye to their presidency.

Sadie Moulton ’22 sat down with All-School Presidents Daniel Pai ’19 and Caitlin Reilly ’19 to discuss their time in office and the advice they would give to the next All-School Presidents, who were elected on Tuesday.

What changes did you make to the community during your time as All-School Presidents?
Daniel: “I think a lot of the big changes, at least policy-wise, were just systematically [addressing] everything that was changed during the summer, such as the interdorming polic[y]. We proposed changes [to] the sleepover policy right after spring break; so hopefully, [sleepovers will] come back. I know there is a juuling campaign that we are working on and hopefully, that goes well. We are [also] hoping to add some study spaces. I think we might want to try some innovative things with Auditorium [as well].”

What challenges did you face this year?
Caitlin: “I think the administrative turnover [was a challenge, because] it’s hard to get accustomed to different people’s leadership styles. When the presidential elections are finished, the pair that wins starts to go to all the meetings with the current presidents. When we went with David and Saylor, we got very used to how [the presidency] would work under Mrs. Pillsbury, but when we came back [in the fall], her job had been split into three different parts. It was hard to figure out who we had to coordinate with and what was expected of us, because it was very different to what we had been trained under. Another [challenge has been] communication in general. We didn’t start the year off the way we wanted to because there was such a lack of communication between administrators and students [regarding the interdorming policy]. We really wanted to be the communicators for the students during that process, but we had just as much information as [other students].”

What did you most enjoy about being All-School Presidents?
Daniel: “[The fact that] people count on me and that I [can] do [my] best to fix [a] problem. I was asked in a conference – what’s the difference between a student and a student-body president? I think the answer is that the student body entrusted me and Caitlin to voice their opinions and represent them, and [doing that] was really the most rewarding.”

What advice would you give the current candidates before the election?
Daniel: “I really hope that they run for school president out of the love they have for the school. If you love somebody or something, you always want to give back. Out of loving something, you start getting ideas and the desire to improve the thing that you love, so keep your focus on that rather than what other people think of you. Winning the race [is] not really the point; the point is to showcase what you have done for the school so far and how that may reflect in your presidency. Also, I would say reach out to your administrators, especially if you haven’t worked with them before, so that there is no learning curve and that you can serve your peers and friends to the best of your abilities. And third, pay attention to yourself and your own health.”

What advice would you give to next year’s All-School Presidents?
Caitlin: “I would be prepared to be really adaptable, because the Gibbs are leaving, so whatever [you] learn during your training is going to be different next year, just like it was for us. In addition, I would make sure that communication is flowing between administration, presidents, and students.
Just do your best and [know that] you’re not going to please everyone. You’re going to have to realize that it’s a big school and everyone has different opinions. The changes you make aren’t always going to please everyone, but be proud of yourself that you’re doing your best and if people complain that you aren’t doing anything, just realize that you are. It’s just that behind the scenes, people don’t see. Something that Dan and I didn’t do as much as we should have [was update] the student body on what [we were] doing. We should’ve done that because we were [always] doing something new and different that people weren’t seeing. I think it just really goes back to communication.”

What was the most important value you learned from being All-School Presidents?
Daniel: “One of the things that I really [tried] to [do as a student-body president] that came more naturally was being more humble. I had the ability to talk to underclassmen and become friends with them. I think that was really special, because I always remember people saying that [previous] president[s were] very charismatic or that president [were] very social. I don’t think I’m really either, and I realized that really doesn’t matter in being a leader, because especially at Hotchkiss the really important things is being the embodiment of what you want your community to be. I think being a president allowed me to do that more, and hopefully people aren’t nervous to come up to us or talk to us about different things.”

What are some final words about the presidency?
Caitlin: “I would just like to say thank you, on behalf of Dan and I, to the students, for entrusting us to lead the school this past year. It really has been a rewarding experience for the two of us. There have definitely been some obstacles and challenges that we weren’t expecting along the way, but I think they were all worth it. We hope that we made you guys proud. We know some things didn’t go the way that we wanted or the way that [you] wanted, but we hope that overall, people will remember us favorably.”