(When we decided to start a “family blog”, it was our intention to write posts about our lives and experiences in the voices of both parents. The reality was quickly established, however, that the tech support and social media requirements of starting a blog were far more time-consuming than we had originally estimated, so most all of the writing thus far has been by my talented wife. But the learning curve is steep and we’re getting the hang of how to make this whole thing work, so the time has finally arrived: it’s my first blog post!)
While the Presidential Election has dominated the national news of the past week and a half, the political discussions around our household have been of a decidedly smaller, but no less important (to us), scale. You see, our eldest daughter (Presley) decided to throw her hat in the ring and run for office with the Junior Beta Club at her middle school. The process started a few weeks ago when she came home and announced that there was to be an election and she wanted to run for office. This led to some frank discussions regarding the available positions and her strengths and qualifications.
After some heartfelt conversation, she eventually determined that her natural assertiveness, positive attitude, and leadership traits would serve her well in the role of Vice President. She signed up at last Friday’s meeting and when she came home that afternoon, she informed us that the election would be held Friday, November 18th. When I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to prepare for her campaign, she just shook her head and said, “No, I really don’t think so.”
She didn’t say much about the election on Monday, but after school on Tuesday, she said that several students who were running for office had put up campaign posters in the hallway. I asked her if she would like to make some posters as well, and she lit up brightly. “CAN WE??”
We picked up some poster board and went home to start her campaign. This quickly evolved into a full family effort, with input, ideas, and creative effort provided by all four of us. We were quite pleased with the results, however, and we went in early to school the next morning to hang her posters.
Someone in the family (I don’t remember who) suggested that she could use some campaign buttons for her supporters to wear, but it was only three days before the election and we wouldn’t be able to pull that off. My wife, however, came up with a brilliant substitute: 2-inch round label stickers, printed with Presley’s campaign slogan!
The last component of her campaign, however, would be the most critical. She told us that she would be given a few minutes to speak to the Junior Beta Club right before the election. I could sense that she wasn’t sure about the necessity of giving a speech to her peers, so I decided to share with her a story that I had kept to myself for over 20 years.
Near the end of my junior year in college, I was running for President of my fraternity. Young and cocky, I felt that my previous experiences and accolades would stand on their own and I would easily win. I uttered a brief, off-the-cuff, impromptu speech, and then sat dumbfounded as my brothers overwhelmingly voted for my opponent, who had delivered a stirring, emotional discourse on the true meaning of brotherhood and leadership. Stunned as I was, to this day I still recall the embarrassment I felt when one of my well-meaning brothers informed me “Wow, I know you’re a political science major, but you were just outmaneuvered right there.”
My hope in sharing that story with her was that she would understand the importance of seizing the opportunity to tell her club why she felt they should vote for her and what she hoped to accomplish if they did. You can imagine my pride when she showed me what she had written:
Hi, my name is Presley Shilkitus and I would like to be your Vice President.
A few reasons that I would be a good Vice President is that I’m a strong leader, and if I’m elected I will listen to your thoughts and ideas.
I am also trustworthy, so if I’m elected I will share with you what we are going to accomplish and its meaning to the community and our school.
I am focused on getting the job, and if I’m elected I will work to make sure you are proud of what we do in this club.
I also stand up for what is right, so if elected I will be your voice for what is fair.
In closing, I would like to say that I know some of your friends are running and they told you to vote for them or you are voting for them because they’re your friend, but I would like you to vote for who you think would be the best Vice President.
Make a Better Beta Vote Presley for VP
The election is this afternoon. We will keep you posted on how it turns out.
UPDATE: The speech reportedly went well (so much so that Presley was encouraged to enter the “Speech” competition by the Junior Beta Club faculty advisor) and the votes were cast. Unfortunately, the results will not be made public until Monday. Stay tuned!