Meet the 2017-2018 Big Sibs Chairs

Juniors Kevin Li‎, Max Onderdonk, Charlotte Ruhl, Leila Storkamp, and Aren Tucker have been chosen as the 2017-2018 Big Sib Chairs. Excited and ready for the year ahead of them, each chair hopes to bring something different to the table.

The selection process for Big Sibs Chairs is both a long and rigorous journey.  This year’s Big Sib Chairs were chosen by the 2016-2017 Big Sib Chairs: seniors Chloé Delfau, Liam Elkind, Jean Joun, Olivia Kusio, and Benjamin Zhang.  After filling out an application as well as submitting both teacher and Little Sib recommendations, candidates were further narrowed down based on grades and attendance. A personal interview in front of their predecessors and two guidance counselors finally secured each new Big Sib Chair their positions.  

“We were really focused on compatibility. We picked the five who we thought would work best together and complement each other,” Delfau said. “We feel that we worked really well together so we wanted a group that would do the same.”

The new chairs are looking forward to using that group dynamic to implement their ideas for the program.

Li is an active member of Stuyvesant’s Lincoln-Douglas Debate team and plays for the varsity boys’ volleyball team. Li hopes to spur greater interaction between Big Sibs and Little Sibs. “After Camp Stuy finishes, [Big Sibs] only get to see their Little Sibs once in a while and [they] don’t really get to build a close relationship with them. We want Little Sibs to meet their Big Sibs out of homeroom as well,” Li said.  

Storkamp’s Little Sib experience played a large role in her decision to become a Big Sib Chair. “One of my Big Sibs, Shannon [Lee], who ended up being Big Sib Chair, really reached out to me,” Storkamp said. “Seeing her face every other week really brightened my day.  I can safely say that I wouldn’t be the confident person I am without her and […] I wanted to have that kind of effect on the incoming freshman.”

Storkamp is a participant in both SING! and Stuy Squad.  She is also a member of Stuyvesant’s girls’ lacrosse team and competes in national events as a member of Stuyvesant’s Speech team.

Tucker had also been heavily influenced to become a Big Sib Chair from his years as a Little Sib. “[The Big Sibs] as a source of guidance and support is necessary for all the incoming freshmen, and developing this program […] and working on ways to strengthen it is essential,” Tucker said.

Tucker, who is a member of Stuyvesant’s Piano Club as well as a volunteer for Stuyvesant Red Cross, also hopes that he can bring Big Sibs and Little Sibs closer through individual meetings with each Little Sib and their respective Big Sibs.

Like the others, Ruhl believes her experience as a Little Sib gave her a natural reason to become a Big Sib. “I know it’s scary when you first come to Stuy[vesant] so it’s nice to know that there are people there to support you and comfort you,” Ruhl said. “I just wanted to give back to the school because I know how daunting this experience can be.”

Ruhl, who is a member of Stuyvesant’s girls’ soccer team and girls’ softball team, encourages underclassmen to fully immerse themselves in the Stuyvesant community and enjoy all that the school has to offer. “Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. I know I wish I tried out more things during freshman year,” Ruhl said. “There are so many opportunities and awesome people at Stuy[vesant] so don’t be afraid to try something new. The worst thing that happens is that you don’t like it.”

Onderdonk, who is a member of Stuyvesant’s boys’ baseball team and is an editor of The Spectator Sports Department, wants to ensure that Stuyvesant is more than just a school to the incoming class. “Be happy. Too many people think Stuy[vesant] is just a pathway to college,” Onderdonk said. “Do things that make you happy and enjoy the experience at Stuy[vesant].”

To achieve this, Onderdonk seeks to draw from the example that his Big Sib Rose Cytryn (‘15) set. “I want to have the same impact on incoming Freshman and Sophomores that Rose had on me,” Onderdonk said. “She turned what seemed to be a scary transition into a smooth and fun process.”

The new chairs hope to encourage underclassmen to interact with each other and their Big Sibs to enrich their experience at Stuyvesant. To do this, the chairs plan to host more community events such as the summer picnic for incoming freshmen. “The picnic [helps incomers] talk with not only people in [their] own homeroom but also in different homerooms, […] so that when [they] go into Stuy, [they] already know people. Another idea is that final push for perfect Big Sib attendance in homerooms,” Storkamp said.

To help the incoming class open up and try new things, Ruhl has also proposed arranging more meetings between Big Sibs and Little Sibs and spirit days. These events, including basketball games and more picnics, would help underclassmen interact with each other and their Big Sibs more.

The chairs are confident that the diversity of their backgrounds and shared enthusiasm will help them work together to make the upcoming year of the program a success. “We have different friends, different interests, and different ideas, but that will help us come together and work really well,” Ruhl said.

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