Get to know the new House presidents
The new presidents are beginning to form a plan for next year’s 2013-14 academic year for their Houses, formulating visions and practical goals for how they want their Houses to look, and how to preserve longstanding customs while introducing new traditions.
The House of Barton elected Sophie Simunek, who is confident that the House will be able to live up to a standard of excellence in competitions as well as relations within the House. In the House of Barton, the value of sisterhood is undeniable, and some of Simunek’s closest friends are from within her House.
Simunek sees her role as president as two-fold. Within the House, she is there to provide leadership and support for the exec team and the individual members themselves. To the school, she is the face of Barton, representing the house on the council, acting as the liaison between the girls and the wider community. Simunek plans to focus on getting to know the incoming freshmen and current members as the former president, Eliza Ohman, has done. Simunek is impressed by Ohman’s ability to create community in a structured way, and her ability to make every individual member an essential piece of the house. Simunek believes that as a team she will be able to improve the Barton experience. She describes her exec team as solid and very in-tune with one another. “We can see the areas that need improvement, and we can see the areas we need to work on for the incoming and current students,” Simunek said.
Allison Lawrence, President of the House of Sojourner Truth, loves the diversity within her house. “One of our values is color,” Lawrence said, referring to how her house members all add so many different ideas and crazy things to their community. Lawrence hopes be able to set up a mentorship program that would involve alumni, church communities and faculty. She believes that such a program would help her house meet with older people who have more life experience and advice. Lawrence sees an older figure as essential to helping students sort out personable troubles and struggles concerning school, boys and self-doubt.
“The job description is boring,” Lawrence joked, but she knows the role of president embodies much more the typed list suggests. She plans on creating an environment where her “Truthies” can succeed. Lawrence also plans to continue the big/little system and encourage the upperclassmen to take the freshmen under their wings as their "littles." The House of Truth will be moving to Clark Street next semester, and Lawrence hopes they can complement the strong sense of community that she sees in the House of Thatcher, whom they will be joining.
Newly elected Jonathan Lile brings a business mindset to his exec team. Lile hopes to provide advantages and benefits to the House of Ronald Reagan by helping its members find jobs and internships through networking and alumni. Getting the alumni more involved is one Lile’s priorities, as he wants to maintain a strong community and encourage involvement after House members graduate.
Lile recognizes that his job is not "to be everyone’s best friend" but rather to provide an image for the house, the alumni and the school. He hopes to follow current president, David Danztler’s lead as an exemplary, forward-looking leader. By thinking ahead and narrowing in on future goals, Lile hopes to provide a better experience for the House of Reagan. He appreciates the close brotherhood of Reagan. Lile shared that his favorite thing about his House: "our reputation."
Charlie Durham, president of the House of Lewis, hopes to encourage his House spiritually. The guys in his House are fundamental to Durham, who has created some lasting friendships and hopes others in his House will do the same. Durham would love to see more community in his House and plans to have monthly activities. He sees that the House system draws people together who may not initially become friends. “I think there are beneficial outcomes,” Durham said. He sees himself meeting with the guys, trying to bridge the gap between upperclassmen and freshmen, and challenge them both as Christians in the city. Durham plans to work closely with his exec team to advance the house goals, and challenge them to pursue that value of “the common pursuit of Christ’s Lordship.”
“I mean, we are just a group of nerdy guys who like to bro-out,” Durham joked, but he plans to encourage that identity with more House functions like weekly Bible studies. Durham says he is surrounded with very competent individuals. According to Durham, they will get to enjoy "the warm smile of Stephen Berry, the hilarious impressions of Spencer Kashmanian and the meaningful conversations of Dan Kemp.”
“I want to have an attitude that’s infectious,” Kelli O’Donnell of SBA said. “I don’t have a revolutionary plan, and there are things you can’t control, but there are important things you can control– like attitude.” O’Donnell hopes that her positive mindset will be reflected in the House of Susan B. Anthony. O’Donnell admits the role of president is very “nebulous” but she wants to be a role model for her girls by maintaining that positive mindset and being an example of honor. The spiritual life of the House is important to O’Donnell, and she plans to make sure no one falls through the cracks by offering Bible studies and options for church.
The returning SBA girls can look forward to being in a community that is unified, and not divided between class levels. The incoming class will able to appreciate the support system the upperclassmen will bring. O’Donnell believes many of the upperclassmen are dedicated to the House and are “ready, willing and excited to serve.” One of SBA’s defining factors is their authenticity. O’Donnell also wants to be authentic and vulnerable, showing girls that her House is “not trying to be the perfect King’s students, rather we are trying to be the most perfect students we can be at King’s.”
Maddie Whitlock, new president of Thatcher, really appreciates all of the different individuals with so many different talents and abilities in her house: According to Whitlock, Thatcher has authentic and genuine community. “We also live in Brooklyn. And we love that,” Whitlock said. One thing Whitlock would like to continue is the house's tradition of Bible study groups. Thatcher also plans to follow Mary Pham’s lead and have "family dinners" about every two weeks.
“We want to win interregnum next year," Whitlock said. A big change she’ll face next year is some of the Thatcher girls moving off campus. She will have to figure out how to accommodate those girls and hold events differently. Whitlock says the incoming freshmen can look forward to living in Brooklyn, attempting to win interregnum and having a place to belong.
Lucinda Sweazey (’15) of QE1 transferred to King’s after a year at Taylor University to study MCA in hopes of pursuing a career in film production. Her favorite class is Microeconomics with Professor Pincin, and her favorite thing about her House is how it brings together people who wouldn’t ordinarily be together. She joked that a major goal of hers for next year is to unite her house members through food. Food, she said,“has a way of bringing about calming community,” which she hopes to encourage. Above all, Sweazey appreciates the holistic view of community the house system creates.
Sweazey says she has learned from QE1’s 2012-13 president, Kate Knowlden ('14), who has a very different leadership style than her own, and has shown her how she can grow as a leader. She wants her house to work together better this year to cultivate a healthy competitiveness in House competitions, and re-integrate the upperclassmen who have drifted away back into the House again. Stomach, situation and story are her three key focuses for next year—bringing students together through food, addressing their particular problems and concerns and re-integrating upperclassmen, and encouraging them to share their individual stories in creating a greater House story.
Sean Spurlock (’14), also transferred to King’s to pursue a PPE degree, and his favorite classes are Con Law and Islam. His favorite things about his house is also one of its house values, that of brotherhood, what he thinks the House system overall should foster. He wants to continue the family-like feel to his house, focusing on freshmen and house traditions and making the house an anchor for its members. Spurlock appreciates how the House system is able to easily acclimate freshman to their new environment.
He came to King’s because he liked how it was a Christian college in direct contact with a secular society, and says former president Brandon Trotter (’13) has inspired him by being a very visible and open president always ready to serve his House members. He also wants to encourage a holistic view of the House, prepare for the future, and make exec team members remember constantly why they wanted to run in the first place. He hopes to encourage more relations with Churchill-related organizations outside King’s, and in the future wants to see Churchillians still in relationship with one another outside the realm of King’s. Churchill men, he said, can look forward to playing hard: "We’re going to be working hard, but we’re going to be playing hard.”
Bonhoeffer President John Sailer (’15) shared that he came to King’s specifically because he wanted to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and couldn’t find that blended his interests as perfectly as King's. He likes how his House has had a lot of interesting and influential members over the years, such as former and current SBPs, Sam Tran ('14) and Peter Flemming ('14), founders of King’s Debate Society and Mock Trial.
Sailer wants to achieve more unity in his house through weekly meetings, and appreciates how the House system encourages relationships with students of every class, which doesn’t happen often at other schools. He learned from 2012-13 president Flemming that it is possible to hold other positions while president of the House, something several Bonhoeffer presidents have done. He’s not sure what career he’ll be pursuing but has considered grad school and speech writing for a politician. Sailer wants spiritual life to play a larger role in the House, and to see his House more united in the realm of academics.
Laura Bradshaw (‘15) president of Ten Boom, says her favorite thing about her House is the relationships she’s formed, and how acceptance and loving one another are such a big part of her house. She wants to continue to foster a sense of sisterhood and community next year and make a bridge between the girls in her House and the council. Bradshaw likes the instant camaraderie of the house system, and came to King’s both for the uniqueness of the House system and the rigorous academics. Her previous president Christina Morgan ('13) inspired her by developing relationships with her girls and being committed and involved in her House.
She wants to either work at a non-profit or at a church after graduation, and wants to develop her House more fully into an example of the body of Christ working together. Bradshaw describes Ten Boom as a fun, diverse House. Ten Boomers can look forward to an exec team devoted to them, and to the furthering of the cause of grace, life and spirit.