Co-chair elects plan for next year amid uncertainty


Annie Rubinson

The elected co-chairs for the 2020-21 season, Caio Lanes and Sophia Viscarello, pose for a virtual picture.

Annie Rubinson, News Lead Editor

Juniors Caio Lanes and Sophia Viscarello were elected as the 2020-2021 co-chairs for the Masters School, Upper School Head Peter Newcomb said in a schoolwide email in early May.

Both Viscarello and Lanes said they were excited by the news. 

“I felt such pure excitement and joy,” Viscarello said. “I might have started crying.” 

Lanes said he jumped right into his pool with his clothes on upon reading the email.

“I just wanted to show the community who I am and offer myself to the position. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I’m glad they chose me,” he said.

The two commended the work of their seven fellow candidates for the position, and Viscarello said she thought anybody could have won.

Lanes added, “The fact that we couldn’t deliver a speech in the primaries definitely downplayed some of the candidates that didn’t make it to the next round.” 

Due to Masters’ current practice of remote learning, each candidate simultaneously delivered their speeches to four different Google Meet pages, one for each grade. Lanes said Public Speaking teacher Curt Ebersole contacted the candidates before the election to offer them advice on how to virtually address the crowd.

Ebersole, having taught all five candidates in Public Speaking class, said he was very pleased with the outcome of all the speeches. 

“I said to them, ‘Take a good breath, let your natural pauses allow everyone to process what you’re saying and just be yourself,’” he said. He also said he told them to think of their screens as teleprompters. This is a relatively new concept introduced to his second semester classes, and he saw his email as an opportunity to bring the rest of the candidates up to speed. He was also sure to include some positive reinforcement. 

“No one was going to be in the room with them. There’d be no one there to give them a thumbs up or a nice smile,” he said, concluding that he was not worried about any of the five candidates’ performances going into the election. 

Lanes said that due to the uncertainty of when in-person learning will resume, he hopes to prioritize working towards “keeping the community spirit alive” by centering morning meetings around entertainment. 

Viscarello also said she hopes to make morning meetings more energized, potentially by encouraging existing groups like DAA and MISH to integrate interactive activities and games into their presentations in order to keep everybody engaged. 

“People remember things they have a connection to,” she said.

People remember things they have a connection to

— Sophia Viscarello '21

In terms of executive committee, Viscarello added that she hopes to introduce the idea of focus groups in order to maximize the inclusion of non-voting members, and prioritize the viewpoints of stakeholders in each proposal. 

“There was recently a proposal about EPA [a required class for the ninth grade], but there weren’t many freshmen in the meeting,” she said. “I want to make it [executive committee] feel like a group of their peers, as opposed to a group of older kids that they [underclassmen] don’t know.”

Lanes agreed with this sentiment, and added that one of the first items on the executive committee agenda is to reevaluate the concept of gender neutral elections, as outlined in a sunset clause of the initial bill passed three years ago. 

English teacher and executive committee faculty advisor Zev Barnett said he is looking forward to participating in and advocating for Lanes’ and Viscarello’s visions for the coming school year. 

“Caio has been writing proposals and coming to executive committee since he was in ninth grade, [and] I have a very positive impression of Sophia,” he said. “I think they’re both going to do an incredible job.”

Barnett added that he hopes to meet with the two throughout the summer to revise the constitution, which would include various tweaks in language as well as codifying this year’s online ballot system for future elections. Traditionally, paper ballots have been submitted the day of the co-chair candidate speeches.

“The virtual election was tough on the candidates, but I do think it’s better to give the kids 24 hours to think about it [their vote],” he said. 

Both co-chair-elects said they are looking forward to representing the school and working with one another. 

“I don’t know her [Sophia] very well, but she seems like an amazing person that I’d love to work with,” Lanes said.

Viscarello said, “I’m looking forward to getting to see Masters from a different perspective and having an extra way to connect with people I wouldn’t otherwise know.” 

She also said she is grateful for the support from her peers throughout the election process.

“The amount of nice text messages and emails I got was overwhelming,” she said. “It was so nice to hear that people believed in me, and I want to pay that forward next year and Masters the best it can be.”