Meet the NHS Board Newcomers

Audra Bergman, Penelope Cohen, Leo Benner, Nadia Ceasar

On March 23rd, 2023, Berkley’s NHS held its upcoming board elections. A total of nine candidates ran for one of the four spots on the leadership board, with four especially qualified students being voted in by their fellow junior classmates. They include President Penelope Cohen, Vice President Leo Benner, Secretary Audra Bergman, and Treasurer Nadia Ceaser. But earning a position on the board wasn’t a walk in the park. Here’s how the upcoming leaders prepared for the elections.

When looking at Penelope Cohen, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the grand position as president. She felt excited by the Presidency from the start, explaining, “As someone who is naturally drawn to leadership positions, I really wanted a significant part in the NHS. I love how it supports not only our school, but the entire community.” Cohen explains that she’s fit for such a role due to her marriott of leaderly qualities, stating, “I’m very outgoing and energetic. I’d label myself a doer- when I put my mind to something, I truly go for it”
However, her running process was not exactly smooth sailing. After getting discouraged while making her campaign video for the elections, she rethought her entire candadecy. “At one point I came to the conclusion that I was just going to drop out,” she shares, “But my family told me that I was making the wrong move.” Cohen then redid the video, the very one she claims led her to her victory. The 17 year old says “I think my video was the final push. I tried to make it fun and engaging”. And engaging it was, with the clip opening onto a sleeping Penelope, with a to-do list beside her including “Play B-Ball with Lebron, Go to the Moon, and Run for NHS President”. On her success in the election, she comments, “At first I was very confident, I was certain people would vote for me. But my good friend was also running, and I thought she’d do a great job as well. I thought, I won’t even be disappointment if one of my opponents wins.” As for her plans on what to bring to NHS, Cohen voices “I really like how NHS is right now actually. But besides maintaining the current state of it, I’d love to offer some more creative volunteer opportunities. For example, I’ve helped Beaumont, The Friendship Circle, and You Matter, and I’d love to offer those options to students.”
“Everything was alright when I filmed my video, it wasn’t until I edited it that I realized it was over the time constraint.
Accompanying Cohen as Vice President next year is Junior Leo Benner. The 17-year-old comments that he ran in this election “ to help make the Berkley chapter of NHS a better version of itself.” From the start, he felt confident in this position, stating “I feel like my traits of creativity and intelligence are my main tools in just about every task I go up against, and I believe they will continue to serve me well as Vice President.” However, when it came to campaigning, Benner went for a minimalist approach. “My running process was more or less nonexistent up until the election,” he confesses, “I spent a few days making my video, and other than that didn’t really do much campaigning.” Aside from his engaging video shown during elections, Benner attributes his win to his other leadership skills, explaining, “I think I was successful because I have the ability to handle responsibilities in the past. I think the voters knew that I would be able to do so next year as an officer.” Benner ran against two other candidates, yet his confidence remained stable, explaining “My mindset was that I wanted to be elected, but I simultaneously prepared myself to accept a loss. I knew that even if I was not elected, NHS would be in good hands of my fellow nominees.” Regarding his contributions to the future of NHS, Benner admits, “I’m not entirely sure yet, but I plan on learning from the current officers and fellow newly elected ones to see what we want to work on.”
Audra Bergman took home the title of NHS Secretary, a role that she sought after in hopes of building upon her current leadership skills. “I felt like the position offered a lot to learn from”, she says. However, the 16-year-old isn’t jumping in blindly, having an array of previous experiences that helped her prepare for running. “I’m actually secretary of my youth group as well, so I feel qualified for this position,” she shares. “I’m also already a committee leader for NHS, so I have experience working with BHS students.” Bergman’s running process included passing out stickers labeled “Audra Bergman for NHS Secretary”, which the Junior admits she was hesitant to make. “At first I thought people would think the stickers were weird,” she says, “But they helped me get my name out there. I think that’s why I got the position.” As for her video, Bergman shot a parody of the 2011 hit comedy New Girl, in which she and her friends played the characters in the show. The hilarious tape included each character offering examples as to why Audra would make a great candidate. “I wanted to grab people’s attention,” she comments. Bergman hopes to “bring a fun spirit” to NHS, as well as brainstorm ideas that would “make student’s not dread meetings.”
The new “wallet”, or treasurer of Berkley’s National Honors Society next year is Nadia Ceaser. Two years ago, her sister, Mia Ceasar held the position of Vice President, inspiring the 16 year old to follow in her footsteps. Unlike her sister, Nadia felt especially compelled to the role of treasurer for several reasons, “I have a lot of experience on leadership boards, and I’m additionally good at managing money. I’m secretary of the Huntington Woods Teen Council, as well as treasurer of Tri-M, so I have experience with collecting dues and leading students.” Caesar said that the most important part of her running process was creating her video. What ended up on the projector was a witty parody of the Vanity Fair lie detector interviews, starring a suited up Ceaser answering questions about herself while strapped to a polygraph. “I had the idea in the middle of the night, and rushed to write in down beside my bed,” she shares, “My main goal was to make it memorable and funny.” Although her campaign clip fit that criteria, the Junior felt hesitance before the big day. “I was relatively confident at first,” she remarks, “But I also felt my opponent was greatly capable, and as the physical elections approached my confidence wilted. Most of all I was nervous about people seeing my video; it can be embarrassing.” Nevertheless, her campaign was a success, giving her a new platform that she plans to use to amplify students voices, “I want to represent every opinion in NHS, and promise that everyone feels heard within out decisions.”
The National Honors Society is a staple at BHS, making the decision for whom to lead it important. This year’s election offered four especially exceptional and qualified students for those leadership roles. With these students leading, a bright year is certain ahead for NHS.