This week’s blog features a Q&A with Caspar von Hollen, Grade 8 student, and a Student Government Association (SGA) representative.
Caspar started his Far Hills journey in Kindergarten and is now preparing to graduate this June. He will be attending Newark Academy this coming fall and said, “I am excited about the opportunities it offers.”
Student involvement at Far Hills is strongly encouraged in the classroom and beyond. Are you curious about what the SGA’s role is in our school? How the SGA works with both the Lower School (LS) and the Upper School (US)? Want to know what skillset can be obtained by being involved in SGA? Caspar offered insight into what it’s like to be involved with the SGA and some useful information for our parents and students interested in participating in the SGA in the future.
Q: Did you have a personal goal of what you wanted to accomplish/achieve for the school by being an SGA representative this year?
A: I wanted to help rebound the school after COVID. With the cohort system gone and some of the restrictions lifted, we had some room to grow. I wanted to be a people's candidate, someone who students could reach out and talk to if they wanted something. I wanted to take the job seriously and give it my all. I went into the experience knowing that I wanted to do something realistic and leave my mark on the school.
Q: What skills have you developed through your involvement with Student Government?
A: I think going to the meetings and having to connect with other people for a presentation we are giving the next day has taught me some valuable skills. This has enhanced my communication skills and taught me ways to navigate working together in a team setting frequently. Managing people and getting things done has been both fun and educational. I think I have gotten better at quickly getting up and giving presentations to the whole Upper School while thinking and talking off the top of my head.
Q: In your own opinion, what do you think SGA’s role is at Far Hills, and how does it help all students LS and US?
A: When coming up with an activity for the school, we try to connect the Upper and Lower Schools. Our activities are meant to be fun and teach students. An example of the former would be a scavenger hunt we organized. The latter would be making posters with the biographies of famous people for Black History Month to display around the school's hallways.
Q: Since you started at Far Hills in the Lower School, what was your perspective of the Student Government at that time? Did you aspire to lead the school as they did? Explain how you looked up to them and how their guidance made you feel.
A: When I was in Lower School, I remember seeing the posters of candidates. Since about fifth grade, Nate and I had been deciding what we would run for so that we would not interfere with each other. When I was in the Lower School, if the Student Government made decisions that affected us, I don't remember it. I’m happy we have started to include the Student Government more. Some of the activities previous Student Government representatives have come up with were very fun and outstanding ideas.
Q: As you look ahead to secondary school, how has your involvement with the Student Government shaped your leadership skills? Do you feel more prepared and confident to lead at secondary school? Why? What are your aspirations for being a leader in the future?
A: At Newark Academy, I might run for a position in the Student Government, but I would rather be the leader of the school newspaper. As I am the Co-Editor-In-Chief of a magazine I founded with Nate in fourth grade (The Next Question), I would rather continue journalism. I think the leadership experience I have had at Far Hills would help me become the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper at Newark Academy.
Q: What activities has the Student Government led this year for our school?
A: The Student Government has organized a wide range of activities this year. But, just to name a few, we have organized and led activities from a scavenger hunt, making posters to hang around the school for Black History Month, a Spring Holidays Kahoot, Crosswords and Word Scrambles, and a Random Acts of Kindness wall.
Q: What impact has the Student Government had on the school this year?
A: The Student Government has had classes learn about famous people during Black History Month and their accomplishments. We made a wall with all of the Random Acts of Kindness that Upper School students had completed. We had Upper School students write to Lower School students about what the pillars meant to them. We have made a huge push to incorporate the Lower School in the Student Government and activities with the Upper School this year.
Q: What would you say, in your opinion, has been the most impactful activity or message SGA shared with the school this year.
A: I would say the most impactful activity was the Easter and Passover Kahoot. This is because we gave a presentation on the two holidays’ histories, and then we did a Kahoot, which engaged the students and most likely got them to remember the information.
Q: How have the 5 Far Hills Pillars shaped you as a person, and how has SGA strengthened this in you?
A: The Pillars have always been a symbol of Far Hills. I think that they are in place to serve as rules and provide guidance to our community. When organizing activities for the Upper and Lower Schools, they serve as a reminder and act as guidance for all involved to keep it fun and responsibly appropriate for all.
Q: What advice would you give younger students if they are considering running for a position in SGA?
A: I would say that when running for office, you should be realistic and spend time on your speech. It is important to really exemplify why you are the best candidate to the other students when delivering your speech. Share your experience leading, and give some of your ideas, but make sure that they can be carried out. My second piece of advice would be to make sure to have fun but take it seriously when actually in office.
Q: What is your favorite Far Hills Memory so far?
A: My favorite memories include:
The Adventure Trips, including bus rides.
All of the plays. Beauty and the Beast Jr. especially.
I love that many of our teachers encourage discussions and conversations with our classmates during class about worldly topics. It is fun to take a break from the normal curriculum but still have a teachable moment.
Working with Nate (my best friend) and Clarence and trying to come up with new math equations. Specifically ones that could solve quadratic equations faster. The wall of the classroom is painted with whiteboard material, so we could take up the whole thing. We had enough room for all of our ideas and were solving problem after problem. It was so fun.
While not being one memory, I appreciate the small size of the school. I know everyone in my grade, and they know me. I know most of the people in the grades below me, and when I was younger, I knew some of the people in the grades above me. I love knowing all the teachers. I have had many of them multiple times and love all of them.