CHS’ Queer Straight Alliance Votes For New Student Officers


Laurel Peterson

A Progress Pride Flag flying in the CHS vegetable garden. QSA picked new student leaders including artistic and communications directors.

On Friday, Oct. 8, CHS’ Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) gathered in room 307 for their student elections. The room was packed to the gills: as Chloe Root, QSA staff advisor and CHS teacher, put it, there was “The wonderful problem of having more people than seats.”

The officers that would need to be voted on first were the positions of right and left hand, which were basically aids for the rest of the officers. These positions were highly contested, with six candidates running: Bella Stevens, Jesse Zikmund-Fisher, Zoey Cerniglia, Jupiter Foster, Beck Nordstrom and Leah van der Velde.

Foster wasn’t sure they would win.

“I don’t know how confident I am about winning,” they said. “I don’t know these people that well, but I’m still gonna run because who’s gonna stop me?”

After the votes were tallied by Root (twice, because she forgot about Cerniglia the first round), she revealed them on the QSA slides; Foster and Stevens had won!

But these weren’t the only offices. They were just the only ones that needed voting, as the other offices shared positions or had only one person running for them. Nadya Matish ran for president with hopes of starting new events.

“I would like to help take QSA in a direction that the group wants,” Matish wrote on her candidate slide. “I liked the Big Queer Box, so I think we should continue that. We could also do queer history lessons, current event discussions or even invite guest speakers!”

Moose Gultekin and Zion McLilley ran for parents, and Rebecca White joined them at the last minute. Root said it seemed appropriate for QSA to have a different family structure, so they all get to share that role.

For Gultekin, the choice to run stemmed from a very personal matter.

“I have a lot of really close friends that identify as LGBTQ+, and a lot of them have had a little trouble with their parents specifically,” she said. “And so as, like, a friend I just kind of decided that they were my child now; I kind of adopted them. And I really feel like everyone needs that kind of person that can be there and take care of them and love them and give them support when other people won’t, and I always just, like I want to do that for everyone, so QSA was a really good way for me to do that.”

It was personal for McLilley, too, though that wasn’t the only reason for him.

“Firstly, just because my own father, he disowned me, and I want to be a safe space for other queer students who might have either not have the same experiences as me or did, and I feel like I’m a very compassionate person. I seem to have like a lot of empathy and sympathy for a lot of people, so I feel like that was a good role for me,” he said.

McLilley also has a unique perspective because of his race, which is another reason he decided to run.

“When I joined and when I decided to run for it, I was thinking from a Black queer perspective as well,” McLilley said. “And I felt like it was really important at this time for someone who looks like me to run, and to show them what like excellence and queer excellence looks like.

Tate Zeleznik and Leah van der Velde ran for fundraising director. Though this was originally to be voted on, the two of them decided to work together and be co-fundraising directors. Zeleznik is very excited about this, and his other position, communications director.

“I ran for both communications director and fundraising director for the QSA officer elections, and I chose those two because both of them show a lot of opportunity for creativity and fun ways to come up with different recruitment strategies and fundraising strategies, which is what I think I’m really good at,” Zeleznik said. “I like to design things and communicate with people, which I think is good for the communications position, and then I also really like persuading people and getting people to do fun things and organizing events, which I think is great for the fundraising position.”

Zion McLilley also got the position of outreach officer. Additionally, Aurora Cook got the position of artistic director, and David Guikema and Addison Smith are now QSA representatives.

The winning candidates, some of whom had no one to compete with, were very excited about their new roles.

“I was really surprised [by winning] and I think it’s gonna be a really good experience,” Stevens said. “I’m excited for what comes in the future.”