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Visions of Community
Auden Salazar

If you’re looking for a group that encapsulates the core values that Seattle Prep aims to instill in its students, look no further than the 2023-24 Associated Student Body (ASB) officers: President Matt Kennedy and Executives Blen Assegid, Alison Choi and Elena Lovejoy. 

It’s commonly known in the Communications Office that arranging interviews for Panther Tracks can often feel like herding cats. However, this was hardly the case with this year’s rising ASB Executives. In addition to busy summer schedules: new jobs, touring colleges and enjoying their last summer as a high schooler, they agreed to meet with me in the Navone Great Room to discuss their goals as the new ASB Executive team, different approaches to leadership and what their experience at Prep has taught them. Throughout our discussion, this team’s determination and commitment to uplifting the Prep community was overwhelmingly clear. Each member brings a unique personality and leadership style to the table, yet they are perfect complements. Matt exudes a keen sense of self. Alison brings a bright personality, energizing those around her and Blen and Elena are arguably two of the friendliest Panthers you’ll find. With these four remarkable students, the coming school year is bound to be nothing short of amazing. 

Why did you want to be an ASB executive?

Matt: I think a lot of our high school experience has been guided by COVID. We lost a lot of the community that we had spent a lot of time building. But what’s so cool about ASB is that you have a group of 17 students who can all come together, put their heads together and say, “these are the specific ways where we as a group can help rebuild community.”

Blen: I ran last year, but I did not win, so I just wanted to try again. I wanted to do it because my friend encouraged me saying “you should try something new,” and I love being involved.

Alison: I have always loved leadership type roles. I’m a sucker for school spirit and community bonding and school retreats where everyone gets super close. I thought ASB was a really good opportunity to be part of making that bond and bringing everyone closer together.

Elena: Everyone says junior year is the hardest year. I signed up for AP Physics and AP US History, which was a little bit over-extending. But in taking an extra class, I felt like I met more people and made more friends. I felt like a good way to continue that would be to join ASB. Being a part of this group would be a good opportunity to promote school events and support my friends as a class community. 

What are your ASB responsibilities?

Matt: We are the student group that organizes and plans all ASB sponsored clubs, dances, activities and assemblies. We’ve been thinking about our hopes for next year and we want to go above and beyond that sort of traditional definition of ASB and be this force of positive culture building, you know, getting people to connect with one another and making Prep that great community we’re always talking about. 

Matt’s Prep journey started off on a somewhat tumultuous note. Coming from a public school in Renton, he arrived at Prep without any substantial connections. Despite his eagerness to forge new friendships, the pandemic disrupted those plans. But Matt persevered. Today, he’s ready to assume the role of President for his senior year, a goal he has nurtured since his first steps onto Prep’s campus. He follows in the footsteps of his father, who also served as a high school ASB Senior Class President. Matt deeply admires his father’s accomplishments, unwavering character and strong moral compass, finding him a constant source of inspiration. With aspirations of gracing the big screen one day, Matt Kennedy is a name you surely won’t forget. 

How has Prep prepared you for this leadership role?

Elena: I’ve played soccer and basketball and ran track. I did theater. I go to all the choir concerts to show my support. And in doing that, I’ve gotten to know very different people with varying levels of comfort with getting involved at Prep. Next year I want to make sure everyone has a chance to have fun. My little sister will be a freshman and I definitely want there to be good opportunities for her to get involved. I want it to be fun for the people who can just immediately jump into things, but also comfortable enough for people who might want to take a more roundabout way to getting involved. 

Elena’s connection with Prep runs deep, extending beyond her role as the sister of one accomplished Prep alum (Sophia ’22) and the daughter of Jack Lovejoy ’97 and Katie (Harrington) Lovejoy ’97, Assistant Librarian and Prep alum. Elena has carved out her own remarkable legacy within the Prep community, displaying her exceptional artistic talents and impressive athletic abilities. When asked about the driving force behind her extensive involvement in the community, Elena attributes it to her classmates and family. Her genuine commitment to her community and the relationships she has cultivated at Prep form an integral part of her identity. 

What else are you involved in at Prep?

Matt: My focus is theater and outside of that I’m an Honor Society tutor. I’ve never found it super difficult to manage my time because I don’t spread myself super thin.

Blen: Mock trial is a big thing. I did theater this past year as well. It was hard managing my time, but I think that I’m getting better.

Alison: In addition to ASB I’m also President of Asian Pacific Islanders Club. I’m also head of costume crew for theater and those are my three main things. I feel my time management has improved. My freshman and sophomore years, I piled on a lot. My junior year I decided to cut a lot of things and prioritize what matters most to me.

Elena: I did the same thing last year. I cut back a little bit because in my freshman and sophomore years I played soccer and basketball and ran track and, you know, was involved in clubs and then I played club soccer outside of school. Last year, the night before the musical auditions, I was like “Oh, I’ll do that” so I did, and it was great. 

Alison’s enthusiasm for school spirit indicates her natural inclination towards leadership at Prep. This marks her third year as an ASB member, carrying forward the rich legacy of past ASB Executive cohorts. Alison’s true passion lies in fostering a sense of community and facilitating meaningful connections among students. Additionally, she acknowledges the ASB seniors from the previous year as her role models and a constant source of inspiration in her current role as an ASB Executive. Apart from her responsibilities within ASB, Alison also serves as a peer mentor, plays a vital role in the Asian Pacific Islanders Club and radiates an inviting presence overall. 

What would you tell your freshman self?

Matt: Be a little more open. I feel like early on I tried to only give people a little sliver of me, but I think to build connections, you need to show people your soul.

Blen: Don’t stress yourself out and don’t make everyone else’s problem your problem because you should enjoy life.

Alison: Just be yourself and be confident. I just want to give myself that space to chill and not feel as if I’m missing out on anything.

Elena: My freshman year I stressed myself out trying to make friends. So, I would say, “be yourself and you’ll find people who appreciate having you around.” 

What are your plans after Prep?

Matt: It’s kind of a pipe dream of mine right now but I would like to pursue an acting career. I think psychology would be something that I would love to study as well.

Blen: I’d like to study business with an emphasis in marketing and I want to be on the pre-law track.

Alison: I’m interested in studying psychology, it’s always been an interesting subject for me.

Elena: I’m hoping to either go to an art school or double major in art and history. 

How do you hope to be a leader in the future?

Elena: Leading actor, right Matt?

Matt: Yeah, that’s something I think would be really cool. I’ll give a speech and people will joke with me like “Oh man, you’re going to be the president one day” and I’m like there’s no chance in H-E double hockey sticks. I’m too sensitive for that.

Blen: Yeah, I don’t think I really want to be the president either, I’d probably cry. Obviously, I want to be a leader so I can learn to talk to people. 

Among the ASB Executives, Blen may appear as the quietest member, but make no mistake - her approach to leadership is equally impactful. During my conversation with our ASB leaders, I discovered that Blen’s primary focus lies in community building. Additionally, her passion for justice, evident through her participation in Mock Trial and her plans to pursue a pre-law track in college, promises to add a fascinating dimension to this year’s ASB capabilities. As the daughter of immigrant parents from Ethiopia, Blen actively engages with the Black Student Union, striving to amplify black voices both within and beyond the Prep community. She expressed that her family and friends serve as her inspiration to actively participate at Prep and foster stronger communities. 

In a word or a phrase, describe your leadership style.

Matt: Loving

Blen: Open-minded

Alison: Welcoming

Elena: Love-joy 

  • ASB
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Lisa Fernandez, Director of Communications & Marketing