Upcoming THHS Student Union President Hanna Kurdziel answers questions about goals and aspirations for the 2021-2022 school year

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As the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year draws near, the Townsend Harris Student Union (SU) transitions to a new Executive Board, led by SU President and rising senior Hanna Kurdziel. Since NYC public schools will be fully in-person this year, Hanna is faced with leading a returning student body still coping with the effects of COVID-19. The Classic spoke to Hanna about her hopes and goals as the SU President and for the Student Union as a whole when returning back to school in September.

Q: How did you feel about the SU Elections that were held in Spring 2021? Are you excited to work with the new SU Board?

Hanna: I’m incredibly proud of all the great work the candidates did this year, especially considering the circumstances they ran under. Many of my favorite campaigning traditions, including candidate speeches, hanging up flyers and directly talking to voters had to be heavily modified, and though I’m saddened that the 2021-2022 SU Executive Board couldn’t have the same experience, I’m excited to work with them and hopefully bring back many of our beloved activities. I know that this year’s Board is incredibly capable and I can’t wait to put their ideas in action.

Q: What were some of the academic, social, and extracurricular experiences you had either in THHS or out-of-school that you believe helped you gain the leadership skills and courage to be the SU President?

Hanna: For the past two years, I’ve had the honor of working on the SU Board as Class President! My time on the Board taught me the importance of collaboration, honesty, and dedication, both to my work and peers. Additionally, I consider myself to be pretty engaged in the club culture at Townsend. As an underclassman, I was lucky enough to work closely with the leaders of a few clubs I hold leadership positions in now! Working with so many wonderful people over the past few years has taught me about the desires of our school community, and allowed me to hone the leadership, organization, and communication schools I consider necessary for an effective leader.

Q: What did you learn both about yourself and the THHS community during the COVID-19 pandemic that you believe is valuable for your SU endeavors next year?

Hanna: This year helped me realize (and appreciate) how resilient the Townsend community is! Even though it was not possible to facilitate in-person events most of the year, seeing students show up to the Student Union’s online events inspired me and made me feel incredibly proud of our school community! I think I also learned about my own resilience, and gained confidence in myself. This year and the challenges it posed were definitely disheartening and frustrating at times, but ultimately taught me to trust my judgement and pursue my goals, regardless of the challenges standing in my way. I hope to carry these lessons with me into the next academic year.

Q: What is one thing that excites you about finally going back in-person in September and leading THHS as the SU President?

Hanna: I love connecting with people! Whether speaking to a group or individuals, I’m most excited to see everyone in person again in the fall. I definitely think it’ll make many aspects of school wide communication easier, and hopefully, it’ll help the Board receive even more real time feedback from students.

Q: Knowing that Class of 2023, Class of 2024, and Class of 2025 did not have a significant amount of time attending in-person and experiencing THHS, what do you hope to do as an SU President to acclimate a Townsend Harris of essentially 3 grades of Freshmen? How will you direct the Student Union as a whole to achieve these immersive goals for these students?

Hanna: Making sure everyone feels comfortable at Townsend is my number one priority. This will certainly be a unique year, and I expect we’ll spend much of it trying to acclimate to in-person classes and revive old traditions. With how many students will be taking their first in-person classes this September, I plan to ensure that Board members are more than willing to help underclassmen, whether by answering questions, giving directions, or offering advice!

Photo by Hanna Kurdziel