Slating student leaders at Sonoma Valley High
Live stream Convention at SVHS by clicking here (student Sean Callahan engineered this video stream).
Once a year, Sonoma Valley High School’s Golton Hall transforms into a election arena, with red, white and blue decorations adorning every inch of the room. Flags from various countries hang high above the heads of the gathered student body, with a massive American flag displayed on the main stage. In the middle of the room there is a runway of sorts, where student government candidates pace up and down, microphone in hand as they persuade the student delegates to vote for them.
This is Convention.
Convention is an all-day, all-out election event during which candidates for student government positions (known as a slate) compete throughout the day in hopes of being elected as government officers for the upcoming year. SVHS is (as far as our school is aware) the only school in the area that holds elections in this manner.
Slates are comprised of three people: a student voice (equivalent to student body president), a student activities director (equivalent to vice president) and a financial advisor (equivalent to treasurer). These three people run for office as a slate – either all three are elected, or none of the three. Additionally, slates run with a campaign manager who works on advertising for the slate, but holds no position after the election.
The duties of each member of the slate vary. The student voice is primarily responsible for communicating student opinions to the administration and ensuring that the student body has a venue with which to address issues that concern them. The student activities director is in charge of planning and overseeing school activities (such as dances, rallies, etc.) and generally keeping the slate organized and running smoothly. The financial advisor is in charge of funding for many school activities and thus must balance the leadership class budget and keep track of the financial situation.
Potential slates are currently in the campaign process, which involves appearances on the school broadcast, on-campus advertising and involvement in school rallies, among other things. Their main goal, as of now, is to convince the student body to vote for them by emphasizing what they would change on campus if elected, and why they are qualified to be officers.
The entire student body casts a primary vote; however, roughly 250 members of the student body attend Convention as delegates. Delegates have the opportunity to vote throughout the day, and ultimately elect next year’s slate. Delegates are chosen in their history classes to attend Convention, based on criteria such as grades and disciplinary records.
This year, there are four slates running for office. On the day of Convention, some of the activities they are expected to do include: giving speeches, performing lip-sync and dance routines, playing fun games, debating one another and meeting with administrators onstage to present some of their ideas. Slates are eliminated throughout the day, based on delegate voting. By the end of the day, it comes down to the final two slates. They make one final attempt to persuade the delegates to vote for them, and ultimately the winning slate is elected to the student government positions.
In order to increase participation, there are a number of ways for students to get involved, besides running for slate or being a delegate. Seniors can be “fuzzies,” “runners,” or “security” personnel during Convention. Fuzzies are in charge of the long-standing tradition of giving delegates rather creative makeovers during Convention. They choose delegates at random, and take them into a side room, where they’re adorned with loads of face paint, glitter hair gel, feathers and more. Runners are people who pass notes between delegates during Convention, and generally keep the peace on the election floor. Security makes sure that the only people in attendance at Convention are the cleared delegates, slates and other authorized personnel. They guard all entrances to Golton, and fetch delegates to be “fuzzied.”
This year’s slates are as follows (in order of student voice, student activities director, financial advisor, and campaign manager): Slate 1 is Jesse Summers, Mitch Hood, Jimmy Flatt and Miles Hagin. Slate 2 is Joel Bremner, Zach Thompson, Seamus Swendsen and Rich Denning. Slate 3 is Paulina Prasad, Maria Hawing, Jack Murphy and Vinny Albano. Slate 4 is Itzel Macedonio, Tasi Sherpa, Maria Ayala and Janet Cabrera.
All four slates have begun their campaign with various public appearances, and all will compete for the slate title during Convention on Friday, March 15.