Gorman grows as leader in ASB

Julia Dailard, Features Editor

Left to right: Nani Nguyen (12), Naomi Yoo (12), and Sammy Levy (12) join Brooke Gorman (12) in reading the yearbook. Gorman reflects on how she has grown to connect with her classmates. Photo by Julia Dailard.

Although the 2019 Winter Formal was arranged to give students an escape from their studies and an exciting night of dancing with their friends,  current senior class president Brooke Gorman (12) spent most of the night off of the dance floor deep in thought. As sophomore class president at the time, she paced from room to room deliberating over whether everything was going according to plan. She checked to see if students were enjoying the music and admiring the decorations she spent weeks selecting. Gorman had wanted the night to be perfect—and the thought that it wasn’t made her stomach churn. 

Prior to her time in Westview ASB, Gorman’s passion for student leadership began after getting elected president of her fifth-grade class, which eventually led to her involvement in ASB during her three years at Mesa Verde Middle School. According to Gorman, her experience in student leadership positions before entering high school looked very different from what she knows now.

“Throughout middle school and elementary school I wasn’t really taught how to be a leader, I was really just taught how to plan an event,” she said. “And planning something is so much different than actually learning how to effectively work with those around you.”

Now, as her fourth year as class president at Westview draws to a close, Gorman says that her leadership style has developed dramatically, something she attributes to abandoning the need for perfectionism.

“In the beginning I just wanted to be this perfect person that never made any mistakes because that’s what I thought being a leader looked like,” she said. “But then I eventually started to realize that making mistakes is such an integral part of actually learning.”

During her sophomore year as class president, Gorman and her co-president at the time, Alexis Weldner (12), were both in charge of putting together Westview’s annual Winter Formal dance, which she says marked a turning point in developing her interpersonal skills.

“Freshman and sophomore year, I just think that I thought I knew what was best, so when formal rolled around my sophomore year and students seemed a little underwhelmed by the event, it hit me hard,” Gorman said. “It was a really big wake-up call that I needed to try to be more aware of what students really wanted out of school events and activities.”

When planning future events, Gorman prioritized collecting student opinion and feedback through Google Forms sent out to the student body. According to Gorman, this has helped her form a stronger connection with her classmates and gain a greater perspective on how to cater to their preferences. 

“I think getting feedback from students definitely helps us plan and improve the events we’re planning, no matter if it’s instructive or not,” she said. “It helps us actually assess which aspects of certain events need improving and it helps me assess what I need to be doing better in how I lead.”

After Westview switched to virtual learning last year and COVID guidelines set restrictions on organizing student events, Gorman says that being mindful of students’ preferences became more important than ever to her and her current co-president, Brian Chander (12). 

“Brian and I have really had to think about what our class really wants to do and what is really necessary for us to advocate for,” Gorman said. “And so at the beginning of the year when everything was so up in the air, we just thought that if we could put all of our effort into making one thing happen, then what would that be? We immediately thought of an in-person graduation.”

Whether it be a drive-through or a traditional in-person ceremony, plans for high school graduation needed to be the same across the district. To advocate for an in-person graduation ceremony, Gorman and Chander had numerous discussions with Poway Unified Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps and the senior class presidents of every Poway Unified high school. Following their meetings, Gorman and the other Poway Unified senior class presidents sent out surveys to their student bodies to collect feedback on their preferences for graduation plans, and found that almost 90% of respondents were in favor of an in-person graduation ceremony, as opposed to a drive-through one. 

After months of planning between ASB directors and principals across the district, Westview administrators recently announced plans for a traditional in-personal graduation ceremony on June 18. According to Gorman, she was happy to find that her class was so enthusiastic about spending their last moments of high school together. 

“I think that with graduation, many felt that having a shared experience would be so much better after spending so much time apart from each other,” Gorman said. “There are so many senior events that we missed out on this year because they didn’t fit with COVID guidelines so I’m really excited that we’re able to make the most of what we can do.”

Following graduation, Gorman plans to attend American University in Washington D.C to study CLEG—an American University specific major that integrates the study of communications, law, economics and government. Gorman said she hopes to use what she’s learned from her years of student leadership experience as a foundation for her studies in college.  

Although she said that her time as class president these past four years has taught her many valuable lessons, her greatest takeaway from the experience is discovering the important role understanding plays in leadership. 

“My time as class president has taught me the importance of really connecting with my peers through understanding,” Gorman said. “I’ve learned that through making connections, through talking to others, through truly listening to what they understand the world to be, is so vital to leadership because you can’t serve people if you can’t understand them.”