Lack of recognition for initiatives led by informal student leaders

|| By: Noorie Dhingra ’21 ||

Hill prides itself on its students’ accomplishments, whether it be in athletics, arts, or academics. The best way to see this is through The Hill News; whenever a community member achieves a noteworthy feat, there is almost always a mention of it in the school newspaper.

However, what happens to those student leaders who don’t hold a formal title? There is only a small percentage of students from the student body who are Student Government Association representatives, prefects, captains, and/or honor council representatives, but this doesn’t mean that they are the only ones working on projects to change Hill for the better. 

Many students work behind the scenes to introduce new initiatives. One class that has an established history of shaping student leaders is Design Thinking For World Change. So, as a part of my inquiry, I spoke to one past student of the class as well as one current one about projects they championed. Ella Heft ’21 led a project throughout the 2018-2019 school year and collaborated with the Facilities Department to ensure the sustainability and support of putting menstrual products in bathrooms throughout campus. She also worked instituting whiteboards, murals, and posters in the restrooms. When asked about her intent and motive behind these acts, Heft replied that her “objective was to not only spread positivity and happiness around campus but to also cultivate an openness around sex education at Hill.”

Another student I spoke to was Katelyn Mills ’22. Throughout her past two years at Hill, she has been working with Mr. Dioguardi to make sustainability more accessible to students. Together, they were able to replace the dining ware at The Grille with biodegradable utensils and transition from individually packaged condiments to bulk ones. Mills said that her main motivation in these projects is “to ensure that I am doing as much as possible to relieve some of the tension on our environment and encourage others to do the same.”

This past October, I worked with Mallika Saluja ’21 to organize a Diwali event, and we had one of the largest turnouts for a club-organized event. In terms of cultural integration, this was a big step forward for Hill. Unfortunately, not many people recognized the hard work we put in, which was extremely disheartening. If the lack of recognition continues, whether it be in sustainability or inclusivity initiatives, it will discourage future students to lead projects without having a formal title. As a community, we need to be more cognizant of new changes being championed to remain appreciative and encouraging of those who work selflessly to create a better Hill.